13. Kendrick Lamar – $12 million

New album To Pimpa Butterfly was a dense, jazz-inflected record that denied fans singalong hits, yet still sold 324,000 copies in its first week. Still, he didn’t top last year’s $9 million total by all that much, partly due to a hesitation to endorse products. Said Lamar: “All money ain’t good money.”

14. J. Cole – $11 million

The Born Sinner redeemed himself with a scorching surprise album, 2014 Forest Hills Drive, which debuted at No. 1 and sold 354,000 copies its first week. A budding mogul, Cole’s Dreamville imprint struck a distribution deal with Interscope Records. “It’s definitely a path that’s been made possible by the Dr. Dres and the Jay Zs,” he told FORBES last year.