Busta Rhymes Opens With A Bang, Scoring His First #1 LP

Three Days Grace, Billy Joel also debut in Billboard top 20.

Chopping off his signature dreadlocks probably had nothing to do with it, but perhaps aligning with Dr. Dre’s Aftermath imprint did the trick. Whatever the reason, Busta Rhymes should be sporting the widest grin he can muster today as the latest SoundScan totals show that The Big Bang will open at #1 on Billboard‘s album chart, marking a first in a career that spans 15 years, seven solo albums and a stint with Leaders of the New School.

Week-one sales of The Big Bang, Busta’s first collection of fresh material since 2002, topped out at nearly 209,000 copies — more than enough to earn Rhymes his inaugural chart-topping debut. The success has to taste sweet for Busta, especially after his last release, 2002′s It Ain’t Safe No More, opened at #43 with 62,000 scans — the rapper’s first LP to debut outside of the top 10.

Rhymes’ current retail dominance helped him usurp the Billboard crown from previous champs AFI. Second-week sales of the rockers’ Decemberunderground slipped 43 percent to finish the week with 104,000 sales and the chart’s #3 ranking. The Dixie Chicks’ Taking the Long Way spends a second-straight week at #2 after selling 130,000 units.

There’s no stopping the soundtrack to the Disney Channel original movie “High School Musical,” which climbs one spot to #4 with 79,000-plus scans after 23 weeks in stores. The #5 slot belongs to a newcomer: One-X, the second LP from Canadian rockers Three Days Grace, which sold 78,000 copies its first week out. The soundtrack to the animated feature “Cars” follows at #6 with 75,000 scans, just in front of Stadium Arcadium, the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Rick Rubin-produced double album. During its sixth week of release, Arcadium sold another 74,000 copies to finish at #7.

Rascal Flatts’ Me & My Gang holds at #8 with 73,000 scans, followed at #9 by Yung Joc’s New Joc City, which slides six spots with nearly 70,000 sales. Ice Cube’s Laugh Now, Cry Later drops to #10 after selling 64,000 copies during its second week in stores.

Busta and Three Days Grace led a total of 13 new releases that will crack the Billboard 200. Billy Joel’s 12 Gardens Live, a two-disc souvenir from the Piano Man’s recent 12-show stand at Madison Square Garden, opens at #14 with 44,000 scans. Widespread Panic’s Earth to America put up first-week sales of close to 21,000 for a #48 bow. Sonic Youth’s Rather Ripped debuts at #71 with 16,000 sold, while Shadows Fall claim #83 after first-week interest in the New England metallers’ Fallout From the War turned into 13,000-plus sales.

Regina Spektor debuts at #135 after selling nearly 8,000 copies of Begin to Hope. Anatomy Of, an album’s worth of covers from Ozzfest 2006 performers Between the Buried and Me, finishes at #151 with sales just shy of the 7,000 mark. Keb’ Mo’s Suitcase claims the #176 slot, selling close to 6,000 copies, and Frankie J just makes the cut at #198, selling 5,000 copies of his new Spanish-language album, Un Nuevo Dia.