Sometimes it's good to be an underdog. Aaron Watson has debuted at the top of the Billboard Country Albums chart with his album The Underdog, marking the first time a solo male artist debuted in the top spot with a self-released and independently distributed and promoted album.

The record also came in at No. 8 on the Billboard 200, giving it the week's second-highest debut on that chart, with more than 26,340 albums sold.

"I wanted to raise the bar both musically and lyrically when making this record," Watson says. "Working with producer Keith Stegall took things to the next level. The Underdog is the album I always wanted to make.

"I can't say enough about the teams at Unrest Music, Thirty Tigers and CAA who have helped get this music to fans of country music," he adds. "At the end of the day, it's about connecting with them at every show, every event and every meet and greet. This record is for them."

Watson also landed at No. 44 on the Billboard Artist 100, the highest debut on that chart for the week. The all-genre Artist 100 chart combines sales, airplay, streaming and social data to determine chart position.

The Underdog is Watson's 12th studio album, all of which he's released on his own. After meeting with a music industry executive who discouraged him from continuing his music career, the Texan says he's happy to do all the work himself.

“Since having that guy pretty much stomp on my dreams, we’ve created this multi-million dollar business,” he tells Taste of Country. “At the end of the day, I have a dream. If you aren’t going to be a player, then I had to figure out another way to skin that cat.”

Still, Watson isn't about to rest on his laurels.

“It really is always about the next one,” he concedes. “Especially if you’re an independent artist, you’re only as good as your next record. That’s the truth. We live and die by putting out quality records.”

The Underdog is available for download on iTunes.

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