By Piya Sinha-Roy
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Kanye West led a slew of new rap music debuts on the U.S. weekly Billboard 200 album chart on Wednesday, as his latest album "Yeezus" topped the chart but fell below industry sales projections.
"Yeezus," West's seventh solo studio album, sold 327,000 copies in its first week, according to figures from Nielsen SoundScan, falling below Billboard's expectation of 500,000 copies sold.
The album scored the third biggest opening week sales this year, behind singer Justin Timberlake's "The 20/20 Experience," which opened with 968,000 copies in March, and French electro-dance duo Daft Punk's "Random Access Memories" debuting with 339,000 copies in May.
Unlike most albums that are promoted heavily ahead of release, "Yeezus" was released on June 18 after West debuted new tracks at a music festival earlier in the month.
Despite the hurried release, critics gave the album positive reviews, saying West's aggressive lyrics and dance beats were "daring and "ambitious.
Rapper J. Cole landed at No. 2 this week as his sophomore album "Born Sinner" sold 297,000 copies, exceeding industry projections that placed sales around the 150,000 mark.
Indie rapper Mac Miller's "Watching Movies with the Sound Off" debuted at No. 3 with 101,000 copies sold.
Miller's strong opening echoes that of his first album, 2011's "Blue Slide Park," which became the first rap record produced by an independent label, Rostrum Records, to debut at No. 1 since 1995 on the Billboard 200 album chart.
Last year, indie rapper Macklemore and producer Ryan Lewis' "The Heist" debuted at No. 2 and to date, has sold more than 843,000 copies in the United States, marking a growing presence of independently produced rap music on the music charts.
Destiny's Child singer Kelly Rowland debuted at No. 4 with her latest solo album "Talk a Good Game," rounding out the new albums debuting in the top 10 this week.
(Reporting by Piya Sinha-Roy; Editing by Eric Kelsey and Paul Simao)