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"We knew it was going to be big. We also knew that the deep discount and rebate plans at the retail level were only going to have an impact if the record was a hit. This one is a smash."
——Tony Bazemore of AEC One-Stop Group.
ASHANTI MEANS BUSINESS
Tweet Bows Sweet, Scorpion’s Got Sting, Mayer Gets Elected, White Stripes See Green
Take a mass-appeal newcomer with a solid street base and combine her with the Murder Inc./IDJ machine, and what do you get?

Try a MONSTER #1 album chart debut for the self-titled debut from Ashanti, on sales north of 500k. The last person to do that was another relative unknown, Epic’s Celine Dion. That feat occurred last week, with the Canadian diva dipping to a still-impressive #2 this week.

"We knew it was going to be big," said Tony Bazemore of AEC One-Stop Group. "But we also knew that the deep discount and rebate plans at the retail level were only going to have an impact if the record was a hit. This one is a smash." Tony then looked at himself in the mirror and wondered how his life had become such a torn, shattered, hideous mess.

The other big debut of the week belongs to Elektra newcomer Tweet, who bowed at #4 with Southern Hummingbird.

"Another impressive first-week sales story, as the Missy Elliott connection helped the initial awareness factor, and then it just took off from there," whimpered AEC’s Bazemore, who added, "It’s horrendously boring quotes like these that greatly contribute to my plummeting self-esteem."

The Top Five was rounded out by UTV’s omnipresent Now Vol. 9 and Mercury/IDJ’s O Brother, Where Art Thou? Incidentally, Universal’s Scorpion King ST climbed to #6—before the movie’s release.

And amid all that, will you take a look at Columbia’s John Mayer? This week, among many sales drops, his Room for Squares jumps a whopping 37% (49-26) as press, radio play and touring all come together to create a new wave of sales. This kid’s a star.

Also showing snowballing sales strength this week are V2’s White Stripes and Blue Note’s Norah Jones, both of which continue to evolve into bona fide smashes. Buckle up for the ride on these two, folks.

"Do you think I have the personality of a small soap dish?" queried AEC’s Bazemore.

FREEDOM NOW AND OTHER JAMS, PT. 2
Marveling at Miles. (2/25a)
BILLIE'S GOT AN ALBUM READY FOR RELEASE
We now know how she spent her lockdown. (2/24a)
BLACK MUSIC COLLECTIVE SLATES GRAMMY WEEK EVENT
A first for the Academy's new group. (2/24a)
SPOTIFY GOES HIFI, BARACK & BRUCE BOW
The Bruce & Barack Show is available on demand. (2/23a)
FREEDOM NOW AND OTHER JAMS, PT. 1
Social justice through the lens of jazz (2/23a)
BLACK HISTORY MONTH
A jazz chronicle of fighting the power.
GRAMMYS: WHERE TO FROM HERE?
After the snubs, the show.
ACQUITTED
In a phenomenal display of cowardice.
MOVING THE NEEDLE
When vaccination schedules and touring schedules meet.
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