After a Detroit paper reported in July that Eminem was bowing out of the rap game for good, he spoke out to clarify the future of his music career, explaining that he'd take a break from recording his own rhymes to focus his creative efforts on producing other artists' material. Nearly four months later, the rapper has released a retrospective collection featuring a handful of fresh tracks, slapped with the ominous title Curtain Call.
If this is the last we'll hear from Eminem for a while, at least he's going out on a high note. Curtain Call: The Hits racked up first-week sales of nearly 441,000, earning Em the #1 spot on Billboard's albums chart — the fourth straight chart-topping debut of his career. 2004's Encore achieved week-one sales of 711,000 for a #1 debut, while 2002's The Eminem Show and 2000's The Marshall Mathers LP both sold over 1 million copies to open on top.
According to SoundScan figures, Eminem's latest Billboard conquest came during a rather robust week at retail, likely triggered by last week's Grammy nominations as well as the vigorous spending habits of holiday shoppers. Curtain Call claimed Billboard's crown handily, outselling its two closest competitors by more than 200,000 copies. Lil' Wayne's Tha Carter II debuts at #2 with more than 238,000 scans while Korn's first studio LP without former guitarist Brian "Head" Welch, See You on the Other Side, opens in the #3 slot with sales of close to 221,000.
One of the week's more disappointing debuts belongs to Lindsay Lohan's sophomore outing, A Little More Personal (Raw). While 2004's Speak cracked the chart at #4 with sales of 261,000 plus, More Personal just barely made the top 20, selling fewer than 82,000 copies. Lohan's wasn't the only new LP that failed to live up to expectations: Collectables by Ashanti debuts at #59 with 35,000 scans while labelmate Ja Rule comes in at #107 with 19,000 copies of his Exodus sold.
Other newcomers to chart include former Nappy Headz member T-Pain's Rappa Ternt Sanga, which opens at #40 with 47,000 in sales, and reggaetén artist Don Omar's Da Hitman Presents Reggaetén Latino, which debuts at #61 with 32,000 discs sold.
Several artists, fresh from celebrating Grammy recognition, enjoyed a boost this week. Sales of Mariah Carey's The Emancipation of Mimi, which scored eight nominations in all, surged 38 percent to finish at #8 with 151,000 copies sold. Gwen Stefani's Love, Angel, Music, Baby experienced a 76 percent increase in retail interest, for a total of 53,000 plus scans and a #38 finish. Likewise, sales of Kelly Clarkson's Breakaway, Fall Out Boy's From Under the Cork Tree, Black Eyed Peas' Monkey Business, Coldplay's X&Y and Gorillaz's Demon Days all shot up significant percentages.
One of the week's biggest gainers was James Blunt's Back to Bedlam, which jumps ahead 29 positions on to take #47 on the chart with sales nearing 41,000. The debut album from the British songwriter, who recently appeared on "Saturday Night Live," experienced a 109 percent spike after 10 weeks in stores.
For more on Eminem's future plans, see the feature "Anger Management: Behind The Anger."