Several U.S. retailers apparently decided to get a jump start on the early street date for Jay-Z's "The Black Album" (Roc-A-Fella/Def Jam) and G-Unit's "Beg for Mercy" (G-Unit/Shady/Interscope), both

Several U.S. retailers apparently decided to get a jump start on the early street date for Jay-Z's "The Black Album" (Roc-A-Fella/Def Jam) and G-Unit's "Beg for Mercy" (G-Unit/Shady/Interscope), both officially out today (Nov. 14). Sources say major retailers, led by Target, started putting the titles out as early as Tuesday, forcing other retailers to start selling them too.

"The Black Album" was initially slated to come out Nov. 28 but was moved up to today, apparently due to rampant piracy. "Beg for Mercy" album was originally due Nov. 18 but was also moved up.

By yesterday, both albums were available in outlets nationwide -- except, of course, in those stores that had yet to receive shipments due to the logistics involved in the rush release. Despite the complications, the two albums -- and Tupac Shakur's "Resurrection" soundtrack (Amaru/Interscope), released Tuesday -- are providing explosive sales for merchants this week.

In discussing the street-date violations, one chain retailer says, "We never want to be first, but we also never want to be third." Another merchant says his chain had to respond to the violations. "Don't you know? Nice guys finish last," he quipped.