Rapper DMX And City Of Angels Top The Albums Chart

Underground hip-hop sensation takes the top album spot, leaving competitors such as the gargantuan Godzilla: The Album soundtrack in the dust.

The movie "Godzilla" may have debuted in the #1 spot at the box office, but

rough-edged rapper DMX and R&B singer Sparkle conspired this week -- along

with the soundtrack to the film "City of Angels" (at #2) -- to keep the star-studded

Godzilla: The Album soundtrack down at #4.

It's Dark and Hell Is Hot, the debut from DMX, landed at #1 on the

Billboard 200 albums chart after moving more than 250,000 copies in the

week ending May 24, according to SoundScan. The rapper's name may be

unfamiliar to many chart-watchers, but he's made a name for himself in the hip-

hop community over the past year by appearing on such songs as LL Cool J's

"4,3,2,1," Ice Cube's "We Be Clubbin' Remix," The Lox's "Money, Power,

Respect," Mase's "24 Hours to Live" and Onyx's "Shut Em Down." Sales for the album may also have been boosted by its being packaged with Survival of

the Illest Vol. 1, a Def Jam compilation that features LL Cool J's

HREF="http://www.addict.com/music/LL_Cool_J/The_Ripper_Strikes_Back.ram

">"The Ripper Strikes Back" (RealAudio excerpt), the response single

to rapper Canibus' LL dis song,

HREF="http://www.addict.com/music/Canibus/LP_Version.ram">"2nd Round

K.O." (RealAudio excerpt).

Coming in at #3, behind the City of Angels soundtrack, was the self-titled

debut from R&B singer Sparkle. Produced by Chicago hit-maker R. Kelly and

featuring the current #1 R&B single "Be Careful," the album moved 146,378

copies last week -- just enough to keep it out of the jaws of the Godzilla: The

Album soundtrack, which sold 140,000 copies. The movie blockbuster's

soundtrack includes new tracks by Ben Folds Five, the Foo Fighters and Puff

Daddy with former Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page.

Also debuting in the top 10 this week was Lost, the two-CD solo debut

from Memphis, Tenn., producer/rapper Eightball. The set, which also features a

bonus sampler disc of songs from his Suave House Records labelmates, is

Eightball's first album without partner-in-rhyme MJG.

The Eightball set, which features appearances by such rappers as Busta

Rhymes and Redman, sold 127,000 copies and debuted at #5. Reached

Wednesday (May 27) at his hotel room in New York, Eightball (a.k.a. Premro

Smith) was quick to point out that, while it wasn't his first trip to the top 10 --

1995's Eightball and MJG album On Top of the World debuted at #2 -- he

was still very thankful. "It's just beautiful, man," he said. "I pretty much expected

it to do that well, you know what I'm saying? But just knowing that my hard work

paid off like that -- it's just beautiful."

This week's other top-10 debut belonged to former 10,000 Maniacs singer and

co-headliner of this year's Lilith Fair, Natalie Merchant. The singer's rock-

opera-like Ophelia, her second post-10,000 Maniacs album, sold

102,000 copies and landed at #8.

Soulja Slim, Master P's umpteenth protégé, also debuted high this week. His

disc, Give It 2 'Em Raw, sold 82,000 copies and entered the charts at

#13. Sean Lennon's debut album, Into the Sun, made an appearance at

#153 on sales of 7,400.

Headed south this week are electronic-pop band Garbage, who saw Version

2.0 drop from #13 to #23 with two-week sales of 143,000. Retro-funk hippie

Lenny Kravitz also saw a second-week sales drop, with his 5 dropping

from #36 to #49 and totaling out at 57,000. Among the other acts slipping down

the charts: experimental noise-rock masters Sonic Youth, whose A

Thousand Leaves went from #85 to #168; trip-hop pioneers Massive Attack,

whose Mezzanine dropped from #60 to #94; and Soul Asylum, whose

Candy From a Stranger just barely managed to stay on the charts,

slipping from #121 to #190.

While newer releases on the Billboard 200 albums chart are starting to

drop, some of the older chart residents are seeing new life. Green Day's

Nimrod, which was released six months ago, moved from #78 to #60 --

its second week in a row of upward chart movement. Aside from turning in an

energetic set two weeks ago at Washington, D.C.'s HFStival, the group also has

gained exposure by having

HREF="http://www.addict.com/music/Green_Day/Good_Riddance.ram">"Time

of Your Life (Good Riddance)" (RealAudio excerpt) featured on the

television shows "ER" and "Seinfeld." Also inching upward this week were

electronica duo the Crystal Method, continuing to cash in on their "Busy Child"

being used in a Gap commercial. Their 7-month-old debut, Vegas,

climbed up the charts from #189 to #172.

The rest of the best: Garth Brooks, The Limited Series (#6); Dave

Matthews Band, Before These Crowded Streets (#7); Vonda Shepard,

Songs From Ally McBeal (#9); and LeAnn Rimes, Sittin' on Top of the

World (#10).