Eminem just can't miss. His Shady Records signee 50 Cent sold an eye-popping 872,000 copies of Get Rich or Die Tryin', according to SoundScan, in its first week of sales -- an abbreviated one no less. The album enjoyed monstrous press buzz, and 50 Cent received a more-than-helpful boost by his inclusion on the 8 Mile soundtrack. Still, the number is even more startling for what it could have been. Rather than being released on a Tuesday, Get Rich was rushed out last Thursday, which shorted the album two sales days.
Further, Get Rich managed to make a mockery of vets in the hip-hop genre. The figure is the highest by a rapper not named Eminem, besting the highest marks put up by reliable rap chieftans Jay-Z (The Dynasty: Roc la Familia sold 560,000 copies in 2000) and DMX (And Then There Was X moved 698,000 in 1999). Even more mainstream/less-hardcore rap fare stands in its shadow: Nelly's Nellyville sold 714,000 in its first week, and No Way Out, back when Diddy was Daddy, did 561,000.
Get Rich's sales figure could also be read as the highest ever for a debut: The rapper recorded a debut for Columbia four years ago that was shelved -- after he took nine bullets in a drive-by shooting -- and never released, and material from some of his underground mix tapes was compiled and released as Guess Who's Back last year.
Speaking of surviving a shooting, Kid Rock's Cocky was a certain dead duck that continues to enjoy a second life. The record had a 29,000 copy sales spike (up to 104,000) and worked its way to Number Three, its highest position since being released sixty-four weeks ago. Another quiet giant was awakened with LL Cool J's 10. The album sat nearly flatlined a week ago at Number Eighty-four with sales of 11,000. It could be a starring role in the upcoming film, Deliver Us From Eva, but it's more likely that some J.Lo pixie dust rubbed off on the rap vet from his appearance on her hit single "All I Have." Regardless of cause, the record zipped up to Number Nine with sales of 66,000.
While 50 Cent was the week's big money man, there were a few other debuts that fared well. Country music minted a new star with Blake Shelton. The singer's second album, The Dreamer, arrived at Number Eight with sales of 77,000. Other debuts included the Daredevil soundtrack, which features a new tune by Drowning Pool with Rob Zombie (Number Eleven, 59,000 copies sold), Alabama's In the Mood (Number Fifteen, 51,000), Lionel Richie's Definitive Collection (Number Twenty-one, 43,000) and the All-American Rejects self-titled debut (Number Twenty-five, 40,000).
Elsewhere, fans of teenage Russian lesbians have begun to snap up copies of T.A.T.U.'s 200 KM/H in the Wrong Lane, which now sits at Number Thirty-three with sales of 33,000.
With a full week in stores before the next round of sales figures hit, it seems unlikely that 50 Cent will sit anywhere but Number One next week.
This week's Top Ten: 50 Cent's Get Rich or Die Tryin'; the Dixie Chicks' Home; Kid Rock's Cocky; Norah Jones' Come Away With Me; Avril Lavigne's Let Go; the Chicago soundtrack; Jennifer Lopez's This Is Me . . . Then; Blake Shelton's The Dreamer; LL Cool J's 10; and Missy Elliott's Under Construction.
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