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"There’s more confidence taking rap records to Top 40 these days."
——Steve Stoute, Interscope A&M Geffen Exec. VP/President Black Music
RAP EVE-OLUTION
Second Single’s The Charm For Eve, Ludacris, Ja Rule
Guess hip-hop is lovelier the second time around.

Rap albums traditionally debut high their first week out, then taper off after the hardcore fans have bought the record. But hip-hop albums with radio hits have shown staying power. Island Def Jam, for example, has generated strong sales on albums by Ludacris and Ja Rule, thanks to crossover airplay on second tracks.

That seems to be the case with Ruff Ryders/Interscope’s Eve album, "Scorpion," which debuted at #4 on the HITS Albums chart on its release in March.

The record set up a base at Urban Crossover and mix shows with the first track, "Who’s That Girl?" but it’s the current smash, the Dr. Dre-produced "Let Me Blow Ya Mind," a duet with Gwen Stefani, that has shot the album back into the Top 15, spurring weekly sales of more than 50k. The song’s now using MTV and BET play, along with phone requests, to power its way through Crossover and Rhythm. Pop radio is up next.

Interscope Geffen A&M Exec. VP/President Black Music Steve Stoute interrupted his weekly canasta game with Fred Durst to tell us: "There’s more confidence taking rap records to Top 40 these days. We knew we had to follow up with a track that had more guts. You have to have that second single locked and loaded, which is where strong A&R comes in."

IGA Head of Sales and Mktg. Steve Berman stopped counting royalties from his appearance on Eminem’s record to add: "The success speaks to the vision of Dr. Dre and Steve Stoute and the power of Eve and Gwen in the marketplace. A hit is a hit. Now, can I get back to buffing Jimmy’s nails?"

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