The music business awaits the outcome of 'Super Tuesday'

Glenn Gamboa
Newsday (MCT)

After millions of dollars spent campaigning, months of intense preparation and last-minute publicity blitzes, the debate over who will be victorious on so-called "Super Tuesday" has been turned over to the American public.

Who will win? The tough-talking rapper from Jamaica, Queens, 50 Cent? The self-proclaimed "Louis Vuitton Don" from Chicago, Kanye West? Or the soft-spoken, cowboy-hatted country powerhouse Kenny Chesney?

It's too early to tell. There's one sure thing, though, the music industry, with album sales down 14 percent so far this year compared with last year's dismal numbers, is counting on all the publicity surrounding the release of albums from three of its biggest stars on the same day to generate massive sales.

If you ask 50 Cent (or even if you don't), there's no question that his "Curtis" (Aftermath/Interscope) album will come out on top. "I couldn't be positioned better," said Fitty, who went so far as to promise to stop recording as a solo artist if he didn't outsell West this week. "My (singles `I Get Money' and `Ayo Technology') are the strongest records out right now ... I'm not in a box creatively. I can't let them put me in a box, saying that they want a specific thing and that's it."

West isn't making predictions about his "Graduation" (Roc-a-Fella) CD, though he has thanked 50 Cent and the media for marketing his album. In recent weeks, West and Fitty have performed onstage together and West is even rumored to appear on the remix of Fitty's "I Get Money," squelching any talk the rappers are beefing for real.

Chesney, however, has made his own predictions about his "Just Who I Am: Poets & Pirates" (BNA) album. "It's funny how with every record that comes out, we're aware of the urban (competition), and none of those acts acknowledge that I exist," Chesney told Entertainment Weekly, "until I have that No. 1 debut on the Top 200."

Based on industry estimates, both 50 Cent and West were expected to sell between 500,000 and 600,000 copies this week, with Chesney expected to sell between 400,000 and 500,000. (Don't worry, 50 Cent fans, his international sales will far outpace West's, so he will still win The Bet.)

However, hip-hop sales have been hit harder because of Internet downloading than country sales and Chesney's deal with the nation's biggest music retailer, Wal-Mart - which will exclusively sell a bonus DVD with his CD - could take the contest down to the wire.

Get ready for the recounts.

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