Nas Proves Hip-Hop Is Alive And Well With Third Career #1

Bow Wow lends a helping hand with The Price of Fame.

Looks like it’s time for Nas to eat his own words — and he has himself, in large part, to blame. The New York rapper, who has been suggesting hip-hop is dead, proved this week that the genre is very much alive.

He made the declaration with the controversial title of his latest LP, Hip Hop Is Dead (see “MTV News Exclusive: Nas Previews Hip Hop Is Dead … The N ). But even a casual glance at this week’s Billboard albums sales chart suggests otherwise.

For the third time in his illustrious, 13-year career, Nasty Nas finds himself on top once again, looking down at the rest of his music-industry competition as his eighth studio offering, Hip Hop Is Dead, opens at #1 on the Billboard albums chart, scanning close to 355,000 copies during its first week on record-store shelves. According to SoundScan, his previous release, 2004′s Street’s Disciple, debuted at #5, with sales coming close to the 232,000 mark, but 1999′s I Am … the Autobiography and 1996′s It Was Written both bowed at #1, selling 471,000 and 269,000 units, respectively.

But Nas was nearly flat-lined by one of the year’s surprise sellers, the soundtrack to the Disney Channel original series “Hannah Montana,” which sold another 349,000 copies during its ninth week of release. Sales of the disc were helped along by a strong 28 percent pre-Christmas sales boon, securing it the chart’s #2 slot. The Now That’s What I Call Music! 23 collection, featuring contributions from the likes of Justin Timberlake, Fergie, Ne-Yo and Christina Aguilera, climbed one spot this week to #3, finishing the week out with a reported 313,000 scans — boosted, of course, by a 33 percent surge in retail interest.

Up two spots to #4 is “American Idol” season-four champ Carrie Underwood’s Some Hearts, shifting 292,000 copies and experiencing a healthy 47 percent sales spike. Following Underwood at #5 is the Beatles remix album Love, which climbs three positions on the chart thanks to a 58 percent sales swell. The album netted almost 282,000 scans, dashing Bow Wow’s hopes of a top 5 finish with his LP The Price of Fame. That disc opens at #6 with nearly 262,000 copies sold, making it the pint-size rapper’s third-best charting debut; 2003′s Unleashed sold 120,000 and 2005′s Wanted generated 119,000 scans, but both LPs bowed at #3.

Josh Groban’s Awake slips two spots this week to #7, even while sales of his album rose 15 percent to finish at a shade under 255,000 copies sold. At #8 is the self-titled debut from Daughtry, the band fronted by “American Idol” finalist Chris Daughtry; sales of that release rose 38 percent to close at almost 250,000 units sold. Justin Timberlake, whose recent appearance on “Saturday Night Live” is still being talked about, returns to Billboard‘s top 10 at #9. Sales of his FutureSex/LoveSounds soared 98 percent to 230,000 copies, which also helped the CD levitate 13 chart positions. Rounding out the top 10 is Akon’s Konvicted with a little more than 227,000 scans, which was facilitated by a 60 percent sales rush.

There were precious few new titles cracking this week’s top 200, but one of the biggest debuts of the week — after Nas and Wow — belonged to RBD and their latest, Rebels, which opens at #40 with roughly 94,000 copies sold. Trick Daddy’s Back by Thug Demand follows at #48 with sales of almost 87,000, while DJ Clue’s The Professional 3 bows at #73 with almost 55,000 scans. Finally, Styles P’s Time Is Money debuts this week at #79 with 46,000 units in week-one sales action.