Fred Bronson reports on the latest accomplishments of Gerald Levert, Madonna, and LL Cool J.

G, THE SEVENTH LETTER: While LL Cool J is probably thrilled his new album "10" (Def Jam) debuted at No. 1 on Billboard's Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart, if he had known about Gerald Levert's track record, he might have settled for No. 2.

That's because LL Cool J's entry at No. 1 prevents Levert's latest album, "The G Spot" (Elektra), from hitting the top. "The G Spot" debuts at No. 2 and is thus Levert's seventh album in a row to peak at No. 2.

It's not exactly a Creedence Clearwater Revival situation (that group had five No. 2 hits on the Hot 100, without ever going to No. 1), because "Private Line," Levert's first solo effort away from the group Levert, spent two weeks at No. 1 in April 1992. But every album since has stopped at No. 2. "The G Spot" is Levert's third consecutive album to also debut at No. 2.

On the bright side, all of Gerald's work outside of Levert has outshined that group's efforts. The highest-ranked Levert album was "The Big Throwdown," which reached No. 3 in 1987.

By racking up seven No. 2 albums in a row, Gerald Levert has the longest consecutive string of No. 2 albums in this chart's history. He also surpasses the Temptations, Aretha Franklin, and James Brown, who have all had six No. 2 albums to date (though not consecutive).

Here is a listing of Gerald's seven No. 2 albums, including the albums that kept them out of the No. 1 position:

• Sept. 24, 1994
1 "II," Boyz II Men
2 "Groove On," Gerald Levert

• Oct. 21, 1995
1 "Daydream," Mariah Carey
2 "Father and Son," Gerald Levert & Eddie Levert, Sr.

• Nov. 29, 1997
1 "Unpredictable," Mystikal
2 "Levert.Sweat.Gill," LSG

• Aug. 15, 1998
1 "Jermaine Dupri Presents Life in 1472 - The Original Soundtrack," Jermaine Dupri
2 "Love & Consequences," Gerald Levert

• March 25, 2000
1 "Life Story," Black Rob
2 "G," Gerald Levert

• Oct. 6, 2001
1 "The Blueprint," Jay-Z
2 "Gerald's World," Gerald Levert

• Nov. 2, 2002
1 "10," LL Cool J
2 "The G Spot," Gerald Levert

RESPECT: In its third week on Billboard's Hot 100, Madonna's "Die Another Day" (Warner Bros.) is already No. 18. With retail sales figures kicking in, it will easily be in the top-10 next week, and is even a contender for No. 1 [see "Chart Beat Chat"]. But no matter where the single lands next week, it's already rewritten the record books.

"Die Another Day" is Madonna's 44th top-40 hit, the highest amount ever for a solo female artist. The material girl overtakes Aretha Franklin, who has had 43 top-40 hits on the Hot 100 to date.

Amazingly, Madonna has reached the total of 44 top-40 hits with only 48 chart entries, an impressive ratio of hits. The four Madonna titles to miss the top-40 are "Bedtime Story" (No. 42 in 1995), "Human Nature" (No. 46 in 1995), "Love Don't Live Here Anymore" (No. 75 in 1996), and "Nothing Really Matters" (No. 93 in 1999).

"Die Another Day" will be Madonna's 35th top-10 hit. That will push her past the Beatles' 34 top-10 hits and leave her second only to Elvis Presley, who has amassed 38 top-10 hits to date, a figure Madonna should easily be able to pass this decade.

'10' IS 2: LL Cool J may be on top of the R&B/Hip-Hop album tally, but he had to settle for a No. 2 debut on The Billboard 200, where Faith Hill opens at No. 1 with "Cry" (Warner Bros.).

LL Cool J's "10" (Def Jam) is his second most successful album in his career on The Billboard 200, runner-up only to his last album to chart. "G.O.A.T. Featuring James T. Smith: The Greatest of All Time" spent one week at No. 1 in September 2000.

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboard

Print