Chris Brown on offensive as album sales tank

Tue Dec 15, 2009 3:51pm EST
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By Ed Christman

NEW YORK (Billboard) - Chris Brown's recent complaint that U.S. music retailers are boycotting his new album "Grafitti," appears to be unfounded.

Brown took to his Twitter account -- which is now inactive -- over the weekend to complain about the fulfillment and display of his album in a series of posts.

"im tired of this sh-t. major stores r blackballing my cd. not stockin the shelves and lying to costumers. what the f--k do i gotta do... ... yeah i said it and i aint retracting s--t im not biting my tongue about s--t else... the industry can kiss my ass," read messages posted.

He also noted specifically that he "JUST WAS AT WALMART IN Wallingford CT,844 north colony.. the didnt even have my album in the back... not on shelves, saw for myself."

A Walmart rep said the company was "surprised" by Brown's complaint, because "all Walmart stores carried the CD since its release, including the Wallingford store mentioned in the post. This store had in fact sold through their copies over the weekend."

A Billboard survey and store visits found that Best Buy, Trans World and Newbury Comics were also all carrying the Brown record, and sources say that his album received widespread distribution. Brown's Sony-owned Jive Records label, which declined comment, shipped over 400,000 units of "Graffiti," and also had it positioned in prime stores space at all key accounts, according to sources. In fact, sources suggest that Jive may have overshipped his record, as sales are slow.

"Not only am I carrying it, I am over carrying it, because it isn't selling," said the head of purchasing at one large chain. "I wish I could return it." He said the album's first week sales reached only 40% of expectations.

At 27-unit Newbury Comics, head of purchasing Carl Mello, echoed that sentiment. "We have it; it's not selling much." He says the chain never even considered boycotting Brown -- an accusation leveled by the artist on Twitter.

Brown pleaded guilty to charges in connection with his attack of former girlfriend Rihanna in February, just before the Grammy Awards show. "We never considered not bringing it in," Mello says. "If we stopped bringing in records from every unsavory character that puts out an album, there would be tumbleweed floating around our stores."

Sources project that Brown sold about 100,000 units last week, well below the 150,000-175,000 units he was expected to sell. Data for the week ended December 13 will be released on Wednesday.