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"Foot traffic is way up, and records are hitting their forecasts. Jay-Z even exceeded our expectations, and it’s been a while since we could say that about any record."
——Jerry Suarez, Virgin Entertainment Group

JAY-Z’s GIFT TO RETAIL

Sales Perk Up, as Missy, Pearl Jam, TLC, 3 Doors Down Bow Big
Jigga came, Jigga saw, Jigga conquered…record-store cash registers around the country.

Roc-a-Fella/IDJ hip-hop juggernaut Jay-Z’s Blueprint 2: The Gift & the Curse exploded onto the HITS Top 50 Albums chart this week, decisively taking the top spot on sales topping 600k. Jay-Z beat back Eminem’s Shady/Aftermath/UMG Strx 8 Mile soundtrack, which had been #1 the previous two weeks.

Hip-hop also owned the #3 spot, with Goldmind/Elektra rap goddess Missy Elliott powering her way to a solid bow behind the smash single "Work It," just ahead of holdover teenpop alumnus Justin Timberlake’s first solo album on Jive at #4.

Virgin Entertainment Group’s Jerry Suarez donned his red suit and long white beard to declare the fourth quarter to be officially in full swing: "Foot traffic is way up, and records are hitting their forecasts. Jay-Z even exceeded our expectations, and it’s been a while since we could say that about any record. With any luck at all, Shania will blow the doors down this coming week."

The grunge renaissance continued apace, as Epic warhorse Pearl Jam debuted at #5, barely edging Arista’s TLC, who came in at #6 with sales north of 156k. The other newcomer to the Top 10 was Republic/Universal band 3 Doors Down, who bowed at #9. The Top 10 was rounded out by The Eminem Show, showing a 15% rise in sales while going 9-7, RCA’s Christina Aguilera at #8 and Arista’s Avril Lavigne, up 8% at #10.

As we head into the teeth of the fourth quarter, a total of 13 albums registered more than 100k in sales. Other chart newcomers included UTV’s Elton John greatest hits collection (#13), Koch’s WWE Anthology (#14), Island/IDJ’s Saliva (#19), Atlantic’s Sean Paul (#25), J’s O-Town (#27), Atlantic’s Fat Joe (#29) and Phil Collins (#30), Arista Nashville’s Alan Jackson Christmas album (#46) and Def Jam/IDJ rapper WC (#50).

Double-digit sales increases were registered by Aware/Columbia’s John Mayer at #33 (14%), 143/Reprise’s Josh Groban at #34 (28%), Epic’s Good Charlotte at #36 (10%) and Arista’s Pink at #38 (14%).

Online sales are also showing the effects of year-end activity. Alliance Entertainment’s Laura Provenzano told HITS she saw a huge increase in Web activity "starting last Wednesday (11/6) at around 4 p.m. ET."

Next week, Mercury Nashville’s Twain shall meet the charts, as will Murder Inc./IDJ’s Ja Rule, Atlantic’s Matchbox Twenty, UTV’s Now 11, Epic/Interscope’s Audioslave, Wildstar/Atlantic’s Craig David, Dark Horse/Capitol’s George Harrison, Epic’s Mudvayne, Rawkus/MCA’s Talib Kweli and Arista’s Toni Braxton.

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