Not so long ago, J. Cole was just another budding rapper hoping for a shot at the big time. In fact, his first meeting with his future mentor and label boss Jay-Z occurred when he brushed past the hip-hop icon on the street, failing to get his attention.

Now, of course, all that persistence has paid off: He’s one of the hottest young performers in hip-hop, and if industry predictions are correct, he could top the Billboard charts next week with his debut album ‘Cole World: The Sideline Story.’

Insiders predict that ‘Cole World’ will sell as many as 250,000 units in its first week. This would make Cole the first solo performer to notch a Number One debut since B.o.B. did with ‘The Adventures of Bobby Ray’ last spring, and the biggest sales week for an artist’s first album since Nicki Minaj‘s ‘Pink Friday,’ which moved nearly 400,000 units last December.

‘Cole World’ bows in a crowded week of debuts, including the likely Number Two release, Blink-182‘s reunion album ‘Neighborhoods.’ Other albums making their first appearances are Wilco’s ‘The Whole Love,’ Chickenfoot’s ‘III,’ and Mastodon’s ‘Hunter,’ which is expected to give the veteran rock band its first Top 10 record.

[Billboard]