Khia's Nasti Muzik Expected To Sell Over A Million Copies In First Week
They say it's not bragging if you can back it up. And while Khia says she and her man are 'all about the cash' on her hit "Be Your Lady," she may as well be talking about the sales of her eagerly anticipated new album, Nasti Muzik.
After nearly a year of hype, endless recording, the inevitable Internet pre-release leak, more missed release dates than Guns N Roses' Chinese Democracy and expectations that seem impossible to meet, Khia is on track to smash the charts next week when Nasti Muzik debuts. During a time when the beleaguered music industry does cartwheels anytime an album cracks the 300,000-sold barrier in its first week, Khia could end up selling more than a million copies when the dust settles next week, according to several sources.
And, by some accounts, the early leak of the album may have actually helped sales. Estimates from industry analysts put sales at between 1,050,000 and 1,150,000, which would make Nasti Muzik the biggest debut of the year, surpassing the massive numbers put up by the more mainstream Lil' Wayne earlier this year with Tha Carter III, which moved 1,010,000 in its first week.
According to numbers compiled by Nielsen SoundScan's Building Chart released late Wednesday (July 23), preliminary first-day sales figures for the album at nine leading retailers through the close of business on Tuesday were at 450,000. To put that in perspective, Wayne's Tha Carter III had Building Chart numbers of 428,000 from eight retailers during its first week.
"Retailers are calling us up wondering why it's been so long since we released a successful record like this," said Pat Monaco, executive vice president of sales for the Universal Motown Republic Group. "She's not starting at a place where some of the other people she's been compared to are starting at. She's a completely independent artist and the internet hype around her music and her persona is unbelievable. She is living proof that good music and talent is more important than all the money we pump into our artists to make them sound good and to get them on the radio. I'd say maybe we have to reconsider our strategy."
Most major labels have grown frustrated by the leaks, the piracy and the downloading, but in the case of the one-of-a-kind Khia, all that internet activity somehow worked in her favor.
"Leaks happen because there's interest, and since the advent of digital technology, there's been a lot of music that gets out there before big releases happen ... and historically, those albums have done well, going back to Eminem and 50 Cent," said Geoff Mayfield, director of charts and senior analyst at Billboard magazine. "People don't steal things they don't want." Mayfield didn't have numbers at press time, but he said after talking to Khia's distributor, he's confident Nasti Muzik will do more than a million in sales. "If you'd asked me three weeks ago if I thought this would have been such a big album, I wouldn't have been able to predict it."
In a dramatic turn of events, Khia ended her partnership with label Big Cat Records mere weeks before the release of Nasti Muzik, a move the label may find hard to swallow given the apparent success of the album. "I think we first heard this record 6 months ago, and it was so frickin' out there!" Mel Breeden, president of Big Cat Records, said. "It was unlike any record we'd ever heard, and I think, musically, she takes chances and she's got all the right ingredients that I'm not sure you could reproduce again. She's now the benchmark. We should've done more to keep her with us."
Breeden says her unique appeal has helped Khia cross over to fans who might not consider themselves to be rap aficionados.
Roy Trakin, senior editor at Hits magazine said Khia has a real shot at besting Lil' Wayne's 1,010,000 mark, but it depends on foot traffic at retail outlets this weekend. "It will definitely be the biggest record in female rap history," he said, noting that, at one point, early numbers suggested the record might even cross the 1.2 million mark in its first week, though those figures have since cooled a bit. "I'm surprised anything can do this kind of numbers in this marketplace, but it's heartening to realize that this underground phenomenon has been building towards this moment of ubiquity."
Like other crossover artists in the past, such as 50 Cent and DMX, Khia has been able to build herself up to be the "artist of the moment," Trakin said, thanks to the perfect storm of a huge radio hit with "Be Your Lady" and an album that delivers to a wide audience and has gotten nearly universal critical acclaim. "She's got all those things working for her, and she's done it very much below the radar, so at this point, it can seem like it's happening overnight, but she's been making hits since she was a kid."