... And in the 46th week, Jay Hova looked down from and above and smiled.
Jay-Z's lofty point of view stems from his The Blueprint 2: The Gift & the Curse selling more copies than any other album last week to top next week's Billboard albums chart. Jigga's sequel to last year's Blueprint sold more than 545,000 copies, according to SoundScan figures released Wednesday (November 20).
The one-time Shawn Carter and current rap revolutionary Jay Guevara's first-week sales fell below industry expectations, which forecasted figures in the range of 600,000 to 700,000, based on first-day sales. However, Blueprint 2 outsold last year's Blueprint, which also debuted atop the chart, by roughly 120,000 copies.
Blueprint 2 ousted the Eminem-weighted "8 Mile" soundtrack from the top of the heap, where it stood for the past two weeks.
Missy "Misdemeanor" Elliott's Under Construction will have the second-highest chart debut in a week that saw a slew of new releases, as the holiday shopping season approaches. Elliott's follow-up to last year's Miss E ... So Addictive will land at #3, fueled by club-thumping single "Work It," with more than 258,000 copies sold.
The rest of the top 10 newcomers show that some artists may have been gone, but they certainly weren't forgotten by fans. Pearl Jam appear to have retained much of their core fans since their last album, 2000's Binaural. The grunge harbingers' latest album, Riot Act, their seventh studio LP overall, will perch at #5 with more 165,000 copies sold. Binaural, by comparison, made its chart debut two and a half years ago at #2 with 225,000.
3D, TLC's fourth album and first following the death of Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes in April (see "Lisa 'Left Eye' Lopes Killed In Car Accident"), will claim the #6 position, with a first-week tally of 143,000, much of which comes courtesy of first single "Girl Talk" and the press surrounding the posthumous release of the LP, which follows 1999's Fanmail.
Three Doors Down's Away From the Sun, the Deep South rockers' first album in more than two-and-a-half years, is a testament to the devotion of trio's fans — not to mention the pervasiveness of the heavily rotated single "When I'm Gone." The band's second album will take #8, with more than 115,000 sold.
The rest of the top 10 finds Justin Timberlake's Justified slipping two spots to #4 (188,000); Christina Aguilera's Stripped conceding three places to #7 (118,000); The Eminem Show coming in at #9, inching closer to ending its six-month residency in the top 10 (114,000); and Santana's star-studded Shaman falling five notches to #10 (110,000).
Elton John's triple-disc Greatest Hits 1970-2002 will lead the second-tier debuts at #12, immediately followed by World Wrestling Entertainment's three-CD retrospective of theme, entrance and event music, The Anthology, which boasts 86 tracks, 38 of which have never before been available.
Memphis rap-rockers Saliva flowed Back Into Your System and back onto the chart with their third album, which will land at #19 and round out the top 20 debuts.
Further down, Sean Paul's second LP, Dutty Rock, will come in at #26, after audiences were well primed for its acceptance by dancehall smash hit "Gimme the Light." "Making the Band" by-products O-Town will assume the position two places down with their second album, O2, juiced by the single "These Are the Days."
Although the album was named Loyalty, Bronx big boy Fat Joe experienced a loss of it with his fifth LP. The Terror Squad spitter will take #31 with his latest, and while his previous album, last year's Jealous Ones Still Envy (J.O.S.E.) debuted lower, at #37, it sold nearly 30,000 more copies in its first week.
Fat Joe's reduction was nothing compared to the grave loss felt by Crazy Town. The band that once ruled the rap-rock roost with hit single "Butterfly" from 1999's The Gift of Game, will enter the chart at #120 with Darkhorse.
Other notable debuts on next week's chart include Phil Collins' first studio album in seven years, Testify, at #30; the single-disc (sans B-sides) version of U2's The Best Of 1990-2000 at #34; Barry Manilow's A Christmas Gift of Love at #71; the cinematic score to "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" at #81; the bonus track-bolstered reissue of Shakira's last English-language album, Laundry Service: Washed and Dried, at #112; the soundtrack to the latest Bond flick, "Die Another Day," at #156; and the Pretenders' eighth studio album, Loose Screw, at #179.