50 Cent enjoys record-smashing debut. He sells almost 900,000 copies of ''Get Rich or Die Tryin''' in five days

By Gary Susman
February 12, 2003 at 05:00 AM EST

50 Cent has survived being stabbed and shot, so he probably needn’t have worried about being hurt by bootleggers. He moved up the release of his debut album, ”Get Rich or Die Tryin’,” by five days to stymie pirates, and despite the shortened sales week that resulted, he still managed to enter the Billboard chart at No. 1 and break the record for first-week sales for a freshman album. The rapper sold 872,000 copies according to SoundScan, a feat unmatched by any new artist in the 12 years since the firm has been measuring sales. (Snoop Dogg’s 1993, ”Doggystyle,” which sold 802,000 copies out of the box, comes closest.) It’s also the largest single-week tally for any recent album save Shania Twain’s ”Up!,” which sold 874,000 copies during its first week of release last November.

”Get Rich” also sold more this week than every other top-10 album put together. Its nearest competitor, at 114,000, was the Dixie Chicks’ ”Home.” Kid Rock’s ”Cocky” moves another 103,000 units and rose to third place, its highest position yet in 14 months of release. Norah Jones’ ”Come Away With Me” dropped two notches to No. 4 on sales of 100,000. Sliding one slot to fifth place was Avril Lavigne’s ”Let Go,” which sold another 82,000 discs.

Country star Blake Shelton’s second album, ”The Dreamer,” debuted at No. 8. LL Cool J’s ”Deliver Us From Eva” helped deliver his new ”10” into the top 10, giving it a 75-rung boost to ninth place. Rounding out the top 10 were the ”Chicago” soundtrack (holding at No. 6), Jennifer Lopez’ ”This Is Me? Then” (sliding two slots to No. 7), and Missy Elliott’s ”Under Construction” (slipping one space to No. 10).