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Jay-Z Haiti Benefit Tops iTunes Charts, Swizz Beatz Says Song was Russell Simmons’ Idea

The campaign to raise money for Haiti after an earthquake shattered the impoverished island on January 12 continues, and it has taken quite an interesting turn.

According to Billboard, the Hope for Haiti Now digital album, released on iTunes directly following last Friday’s star-studded telethon of the same name, is set to top the charts tomorrow (January 27). Already holding down the No. 1 position on the iTunes top albums list, the benefit disc is projected to sell close to 150,000 copies in the week that ended on Sunday, January 24. If that number proves true, it will be the first time a digital-only release will debut at the top of the charts. (Check tomorrow for the official numbers.)

Featured on the compilation is Jay-Z’s much publicized collaboration with U2’s Bono, Rihanna and The Edge, titled “Stranded (Haiti Mon Amour).” As of yesterday, MTV reports that the track, produced by Swizz Beatz, was the No. 1 iTunes song in 12 countries.

Swizzy spoke to recently about how the tribute came together. “I was in Italy, Bono was in Brussels, [and] Jay was in New York,” the super producer recalled. “Russell Simmons called me about the way that Haiti was hurting, saying that I should put a couple of artists together and do a song. With all I was seeing on the news, I knew immediately I had to do something.”

“A couple of people had reached out already and I knew that if I did a song for something so serious it would have to be something big,” he continued. “So I tried my luck and reached out to my friends Bono and Jay-Z and asked for their help and they both said yes right away! Both Bono and Jay laid vocals and sent it right back. Bono and I met in the studio in France and the rest is history!”

As of press time it’s uncertain how many downloads the studio version of “Stranded” has racked up since being available on iTunes and calls to MTV have yet to be returned. A spokesperson for iTunes told XXL that as a distributor they don’t have access to the numbers.

All proceeds from the downloads of both individual songs and the album as a whole will go to the Hope for Haiti Now charities. MTV reports that it has raised close to $61 million for Haiti so far, and the money continues to roll in.

“It’s important we, as a global community, all come together to help,” Swizz said. “Haiti needs us right now.” —Jesse Gissen

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