For Memphis rappers Three 6 Mafia, who open at #3 on Billboard's albums chart with Most Known Unknown, visions of a chart-topping debut were annihilated by country queen Gretchen Wilson and rock leading lady (and soon-to-be Mrs. Lance Armstrong) Sheryl Crow, who finish the week at #1 and #2, respectively.
Female artists debuted big on the chart, owning four of the six new releases that crack the latest top 10. Newcomers rule again this time around — as was the case with the two charts that preceded it — bucking the tendency for top-10 LPs to linger within those ranks for weeks.
While Most Known Unknown managed to move more than 115,000 units during its first week on record-store shelves, Three 6 Mafia were outdone by Crow's Wildflower, which finished with 140,000 scans, and Wilson's new one, All Jacked Up, scoring first-week sales of nearly 264,000 to earn Billboard's blue ribbon.
But Gretchen and Sheryl weren't the only ladies leading the chart. With just over 114,000 copies of her LP Libra scanned, sexy R&B songstress Toni Braxton earned herself the chart's #4. And finishing in this week's #6 slot is Lil' Kim's latest hardcore outing, The Naked Truth. Kim's take (close to 109,000 discs) might come as something of a bittersweet triumph for the rapper who recently left her New Jersey manse for a Philadelphia prison cell. The pint-sized rapper bested dancehall dude Sean Paul, whose latest offering, The Trinity, sold more than 107,000 copies its first week out to earn the chart's #7 spot.
Kanye West's Late Registration falls two spots to #5 after moving close to 110,000 units during the album's fifth week at retail. The previous chart's #1, Disturbed's Ten Thousand Fists, takes a 61 percent hit in sales, slipping to #8 with over 92,000 copies sold. Bon Jovi's Have a Nice Day also suffers a fall, dropping from #2 to #9 with nearly 89,000 scans. The Black Eyed Peas round out the top 10 with sales of Monkey Business hovering just under 77,000.
Grunge granddaddy Neil Young's new disc, Prairie Wind, opens at #11 with 72,000 scans, making it the week's seventh-biggest debut. The chart includes many fresh faces, including #18 finisher H.I.M. — Bam Margera's nominee for best band ever. The Finnish emo-metal act's first proper U.S. release, Dark Light, sold more than 46,000 copies. Another favorite of Bam's, Bloodhound Gang, return to the chart at #24 with Hefty Fine, which sold nearly 36,000 copies during its opening week. Ryan Adams & the Cardinals' Jacksonville City Nights debuts at #33 with 31,000 copies sold, while Mack 10's Hustla's Handbook finishes at #65 with 17,000 plus scans.
Other notable debut showings were turned in by Ill Nino's One Nation Underground (#101 with sales of nearly 11,000), Blackalicious' The Craft (#102, over 10,000), Panic! At the Disco's A Fever You Can't Sweat Out (#112, nearly 10,000), Project 86's ... And the Rest Will Follow (#131, 8,000) and Wolf Parade's Apologies to the Queen Mary (#158, close to 7,000).