Kanye West's "Graduation" (Def Jam) easily leads the star-studded class of Sept. 11 releases, posting The Billboard 200's largest sales total in more than two years. Nielsen SoundScan will show West's album moved 957,000 during its first six days when the tracking service refreshes its charts tomorrow morning (Sept. 19).
Also pumping album volume are 50 Cent's "Curtis" (G-Unit/Interscope), which will lock down the No. 2 slot with 691,000 sold. Kenny Chesney's "Just Who I Am: Poets & Pirates" (BNA/Sony BMG Nashville) will bow at No. 3 with 387,000 copies.
The total for West's "Graduation" is the largest by any album since 50 Cent's "The Massacre" opened with 1.1 million copies in March 2005. West's own August 2005 album, "Late Registration," was the last album to surpass 800,000 copies when it began with 860,000.
While West beats 50 Cent in the celebrated clash between rappers, the real winners are music merchants. With the "High School Musical 2
" soundtrack at No. 4 selling 133,000 copies, the top four titles alone account for 2.2 million units, more than all titles combined on last week's entire Billboard 200.