Jay-Z nabs top spot for 10th time

'American Gangster' sells 425,000 copies

Jay-Z’s “American Gangster” (Roc-a-Fella/Island Def Jam) becomes the rapper’s 10th album to hold the No. 1 position on the album sales chart.

“Gangster” sold 425,000 copies in the week ended Sunday, according to Nielsen SoundScan, tying him with Elvis Presley for second place on the most No. 1 albums list. The Beatles are at the top with 19 titles.

This is his second No. 1 debut in less than 12 months; 2006’s “Kingdom Come” opened with more than 680,000 units sold. Jay-Z promoted the album with a quick five-city club tour and managed to hit No. 1 despite not offering the album at Apple’s iTunes store.

This week’s chart is the last one to reflect pre-strike television appearances as the usual promo tours of latenight shows have gone dark. Many acts with fourth-quarter releases are losing crucial TV airtime and are limited to daytime appearances on shows such as “Ellen.”

Some acts got ahead of the curve and made a news show the cornerstone for their TV activity. Alicia Keys, for example, launched her album “As I Am” on Tuesday with a performance on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” She has appeared on “The Tonight Show” when her single “No One” was released in October and will appear Sunday on the American Music Awards. Appearances on “Late Show with David Letterman” and “Jimmy Kimmel Live” were scratched.

“The AMAs are a huge booking for her,” said Tom Corson, exec VP and general manager of RCA Music Group. “That show is critically positioned before Thanksgiving. Our roster has a real fourth-quarter mentality, and we hope to get two Christmases out of Alicia’s album.”

Celine Dion will also be launching an album with a performance at the AMAs and appearing at the Nov. 28 lighting of the tree in Rockefeller Center on NBC. Keys and Dion are being projected as next week’s top two sellers, with Keys’ disc expected to do north of half a million.

Lenny Kravitz, Nicole Scherzinger and Mary J. Blige will also be appearing on the AMAs to promote releases.

Another scheduled AMA performer, R&B singer-dancer Chris Brown, saw his second album, “Exclusive” (Jive), sell 294,000 copies to open at No. 4.

It trailed Garth Brooks’ “Ultimate Hits” (Pearl Records), which sold 352,000 copies to open at No. 3. His last wide release, “Scarecrow,” opened at No. 1 in 2001 on sales of 466,000.

The second album from Angels & Airwaves — “I-Empire” (Geffen) –sold 66,000 to take the nine slot. Cassidy’s “B.A.R.S. The Barry Adrian Reese Story” (Full Surface/J Records) hustled 63,000 sales to open at No. 10.

Reggaeton act Wisin & Yandel’s “Wisin Vs. Yandel: Los Extraterrestres” (Machete) sold 53,000 to take No. 14; Little Big Town’s “Place to Land” (Equity Music Group) sold 35,000 (No. 24); Def Jam’s soundtrack to “American Gangster” opened at No. 36 selling 21,000; and Van Morrison’s third greatest hits collection, “Still on Top,” sold 18,000 (No. 48).

Starbucks’ holiday compilation “Stockings by the Fire” percolated with 18,000 (No. 43); there are now seven holiday albums in the top 50, led by Josh Groban’s “Noel,” which sold 116,000 copies last week.

Last week’s No. 1, the Eagles’ “Long Road Out of Eden,” dropped to No. 2 as sales were cut in half to 359,000. Band appeared on the CMA Awards telecast, which provided a number of sales spikes.

Taylor Swift was the top winner, thanks to some smart timing. An expanded version of her self-titled debut was released the week she appeared on the CMAs, sparking a 156% sales increase — 68,000 units — to lift her album to No. 8. Reba McEntire’s “Duets” and Sugarland’s “Enjoy the Ride” sold 55,000 copies each; she saw a 43% spike, and Sugarland more than doubled sales from the week prior. Also enjoying bumps were albums by Kenny Chesney, Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley.

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