Fugees rapper/singer Lauryn Hill continued her reign at the top of the charts, as The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill remained in the #1 spot on the Billboard 200 albums chart for the second week in a row.
The critically acclaimed album moved 265,000 copies in the week ending Sept. 6, bringing its two-week total up to 689,000, according to SoundScan, the watchdog of record sales. That was enough to earn Hill a gold album (500,000 copies sold) from the Recording Industry Association of America and catapult the singer into the small club of artists, including punk/rap superstars the Beastie Boys and rapper Master P, who've earned the award this year in just two weeks.
Last week, Hill entered the record books when her album logged the highest one-week sales figures for a female solo artist since SoundScan began tracking sales in 1991.
Nipping at Hill's heels this week was the Back To Titanic soundtrack, which includes portions of the score from "Titanic" that were not included on the mega-successful first edition, as well as an alternate version of the Celine Dion hit "My Heart Will Go On," which, in this case, is accompanied by dialogue from the mega-hit movie. Fueled by the release of the blockbuster movie "Titanic" on home video last week and a new round of publicity for the film and its music, both editions of the soundtrack experienced a chart leap, with Titanic climbing from #43 to #25 and Back To Titanic jumping from its #7 debut spot to #2.
In debut news, hardcore rapper Fat Joe weighed in at #7 with his latest, Don Cartagena, just one day after he was arrested for allegedly beating a man at the Puerto Rican Day Parade in New York in July. Perhaps best known as the man who helped lead fellow wide-waisted Latino rapper Big Punisher -- who was also charged in the alleged beating -- to the big time, Joe sold 108,000 copies of his third album, far outpacing this week's other notable hip-hop release, the #16-charting The Assassin, from Master P protégé Big Ed.
For many fans of Hill, the news that her solo debut withstood an attack from Return To Titanic shows that people are hearing the positive messages in songs such as the album's first single, "Doo Wop (That Thing)" (RealAudio excerpt), and that the messages are ringing true.
"Her album is all about the joy you find when you're true to yourself," 17-year-old Hill fan Jenny Wagner wrote in an e-mail. "In everything I've read, [Hill] has said that she really reached inside to make this album and I think that it shows. People can feel how personal the music is to her and her strong sales just show that she's right when she sings about how important it is to be true to yourself."
Pop-dance act 'N Sync followed closely behind Back To Titanic at #3 with their self-titled debut, which inched just ahead of country crooner Alan Jackson, who debuted at #4 with his new album, High Mileage.
All that shifting at the top of the charts sent the Beastie Boys' platinum-selling (1 million sold) Hello Nasty out of the top three for the first time since its release on July 14. The album dropped from #2 to #5.
Also moving south on the charts this week was Hellbilly Deluxe, the solo debut from Rob Zombie, frontman for dark metal act White Zombie. After selling 125,000 copies last week and debuting at #5 -- a first-week position that no White Zombie record ever achieved -- the album slipped to #12 on sales of 85,000. Also dropping out of the top 10 this week were former chart-toppers Korn, whose hip-hop and metal-mixed Follow The Leader slid from #9 to #14.
Much further down the charts, country legend Willie Nelson checked in at #121 with Teatro, while alt-rockers Local H bowed at #140 with Pack Up The Cats.
The rest of the top 10: Barenaked Ladies, Stunt (#6); various artists, Armageddon -- The Album (#8); Backstreet Boys, Backstreet Boys (#9); and Snoop Dogg, Da Game Is To Be Sold, Not To Be Told (#10).