West edges out 50 Cent in early sales


NEW YORK -- It looks like 50 Cent is headed for retirement, if store reports continue to trend the way they were by mid-afternoon Tuesday. 50 Cent had said that he would quit the rap game if his new G-Unit/Interscope album, "Curtis," was outsold by Kanye West's Def Jam set "Graduation," both of which were released Tuesday.

Sales data is finalized Sunday at midnight when the Nielsen SoundScan week officially ends, but early indications are that West will be the victor, at least in the first week.

According to executives with three of the major labels, whose job duties include projecting first week scans based on early store sales reports, "Graduation" could come in at the 575,000-700,000 range, while "Curtis" is being projected in the 500,000-600,000 range.

Meanwhile, Kenny Chesney's "Just Who I Am: Poets & Pirates," also released today, is projected to arrive the 400,000-550,000 range, with one sales projecting guru putting the country star neck and neck with 50 Cent.

A check with one Northeast urban-oriented store selling both the 50 Cent and West albums found the former outselling the latter seven copies to three copies today.

But when asked why there was such a light turnout for the two biggest urban music stars, the store owner admitted selling 144 copies of "Curtis" and 91 copies of "Graduation" over the weekend, "Of course, you realize Sept. 11 wasn't the release date in my store," he said.