With Assist From Eminem, Tupac Takes Top Slot On Albums Chart

Loyal to the Game sells more than 330,000 copies its first week out.

’Twas the week before Christmas, and all through the stores, more people chose Tupac than left with Encore.

Tupac Shakur’s latest posthumous album, Loyal to the Game, also sold better than Now That’s What I Call Music! 17 to bow at #1 on next week’s Billboard albums chart. But it was hardly a landslide victory for the late street poet. Loyal to the Game, which moved more than 330,000 copies, according to SoundScan, topped the seven-week-old Now compilation by just 7,000 copies. Featuring contributions from Terror Squad, JoJo and Jessica Simpson, Now 17 will come in at #2.

Loyal to the Game is the seventh Tupac album to drop after he died in September 1996, and his third since to debut at #1. In all, his posthumous albums have sold more than 10.8 million copies, 5 million more than the four albums he released from 1991 until his death.

Eminem can’t be disappointed by next week’s chart. For starters, he produced Tupac’s album, and his own Encore will move up two spots to #4. Its weekly total of 315,000 copies is also a 15 percent improvement over last week’s sum.

Ashanti’s third LP, Concrete Rose, is her first not to debut in the top slot. Instead, the R&B princess’ latest will come in at #7, with more than 254,000 copies sold.

Next week’s top 10 is rounded out by Shania Twain’s Greatest Hits, moving up two spots to #4 (with more than 311,000 copies sold); U2’s How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb, dropping three places to #5 (299,000) while slightly increasing its sales; Destiny’s Child’s Destiny Fulfilled taking a step up to #6 (267,000); Toby Keith’s Greatest Hits 2 maintaining its position at #8 (238,000); Usher’s Confessions rising two notches to #9 (236,000); and Jay-Z/ Linkin Park’s Collision Course moving a notch lower to #10 (235,000).

With holiday shopping at a fevered peak, just about every album on the chart improved its weekly sales, except last week’s top LP, Ludacris’ Red Light District, and Lindsay Lohan’s Speak. Luda’s latest will fall 11 spots to #12, while Lohan’s debut album will slide from #4 to #14.

The only other notable debut on next week’s chart is Xzibit’s Weapons of Mass Destruction, which will come in at #43.