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ONE-DAY SALES: FANS BINGE ON CHOCOLATE FACTORY
Despite Controversy, New R. Kelly Album Doing Huge Numbers
He may be a long way from the innocence of a Roald Dahl children’s book, but it looks like R&B fans aren’t ready to convict R. Kelly at the cash register. Indeed, despite Kelly facing child pornography charges in two states, his long-delayed new album, Chocolate Factory (Jive) appears likely to sell over 700k in its first week of release, according to early reports from national accounts.

The album is being driven by smash single “Ignition,” which has found a huge radio audience despite the controversy surrounding Kelly. After one day in the streets, retail reports indicate that Chocolate Factory is even selling at rack accounts, which means Wal-Mart, the nation’s largest retailer, famous for taking the moral high ground and not carrying product with parental advisory stickers. Ironic as it may seem, Chocolate Factory does not carry such a sticker. Apparently due process is alive and well.

Jive’s initial shipment of the Kelly album was 850k, meaning the overwhelming demand has created some stock problems. These have reportedly been quickly resolved, however, with 1.1 million in the street now and more hitting shelves tomorrow. Rap phenomenon 50 Cent was able to sell 800k with between 1.3 and 1.4 million in the marketplace, so retailers believe 700k isn’t out of the question for Kelly.

If Kelly does move 700k for the week, he should be an easy #1 on next week’s chart. 50 Cent, who has spent two weeks at #1 (the first only four days) on sales of over 800k, would have to defy every historical sales trend ever to not drop by at least 15% next week, in which case he could battle Kelly to hold on to #1. But if Get Rich or Die Tryin’ behaves like history tells us it should, Kelly should have #1 wrapped up.

Also hitting the streets yesterday was the DMX-driven Cradle 2 The Grave soundtrack (Def Jam), which also features Eminem, 50 Cent, Clipse, Baby and Fat Joe among others. You won’t find the explicit version at Wal-Mart, but early retail reports indicate it will easily sell over 70k anyway. And that’s a full two weeks ahead of the movie’s 2,500-screen opening.

May Jet Li never drop-kick your Pomeranian.

A HOLLY, JOLLY
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