Lil Wayne tops the 1 million mark with first-week sales of ‘Tha Carter III’

June 19, 2008 at 9:57 am | Posted in 50 Cent, kanye west, lil wayne | Leave a comment
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Like a superhero arriving in the nick of time, rapper Lil Wayne has swooped in to stem the tide, however briefly, of both the record business’ general slump and the steeper slide that rap music has suffered in recent years.

The New Orleans rhymer’s “Tha Carter III” has become the first album to top the 1 million sales mark during its first week in stores since 50 Cent’s “The Massacre” more than three years ago. It also is the first rap album to top the national sales chart since Jay-Z’s “American Gangster” held that spot in November.

“I’m sure there are people who thought we wouldn’t see a 1 million copy week again,” Geoff Mayfield, Billboard’s charts director, said Wednesday. “This doesn’t mean there isn’t trouble in the music business, but it does mean if you have the right record at the right time, it’s still possible.”

The fact that Lil Wayne, who is less a household name outside hip-hop circles than Jay-Z, Kanye West, Eminem or 50 Cent, managed to hit that threshold speaks to the groundswell of popularity he has generated through a string of singles and mix-tapes released over the Internet in the last year.

His single “Lollipop,” which he sang Monday at his release-week concert at the House of Blues in West Hollywood, is one of the year’s biggest hits. In recent weeks it has ridden high on both Billboard’s Hot 100, which measures radio airplay, physical and digital sales, and the magazine’s Hot Digital Tracks chart, indicating its popularity as a download.

“There had been a lot of anticipation building for the album,” Mayfield said. “It shipped 1.3 million copies, which is a number like the old days.”

It’s a dramatic step up for Lil Wayne, whose previous album, “Tha Carter II,” sold 238,000 copies during its first week in stores in 2005, according to Nielsen SoundScan, and peaked at No. 2 on the chart. The closest anyone has come to the 1 million sales week since 50 Cent was West, whose “Graduation” album logged a first-week figure of 957,000 last September.

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