Ladies and gentleman, please turn your attention to the ring. In this corner, direct from Chicago and wearing the white Louis Vuitton trunks: the reigning champion, Kanye West. And in the far corner, with $25,000 worth of diamonds and platinum in his grill, the challenger and the pride of H-Town: Paul Wall. Let's get ready to rumble!
Maybe that's a bit of a stretch, but the battle for Billboard supremacy is akin to a high-stakes heavyweight bout, and on this chart, the contenders are two of the biggest names in hip-hop: Kanye West, who has spent the previous two weeks on top with his second LP, Late Registration, versus Houston's Paul Wall, making his major-label debut with The Peoples Champ. And when the dust cleared, Wall topped West — but by decision, not knockout.
According to the latest SoundScan data, Wall lived up to his album's title, with opening-week sales of more than 176,000, dropping West's disc — which scored week-three scans of 165,000 plus — to #2. But Wall's title win wasn't the week's only retail triumph. Seven of the albums cracking the top 10 on Billboard's latest album-sales chart are first timers.
Rockin' beach bums Switchfoot brought their game from the shores of San Diego to America's record stores this week, and walked away with the highest-charting release of their career. Nothing Is Sound opens at #3 with more than 131,000 scans, followed by country star Trisha Yearwood's latest, Jasper County, which finishes fourth with first-week sales of more than 117,000. Burlesque-dancers-turned-pop-stars the Pussycat Dolls take the chart's #5 spot with their debut offering, PCD, with close to 99,000 copies soaring off shelves thanks to the group's hit single, "Don't Cha."
Sir Paul McCartney is no newcomer to the top 10, but that doesn't make a #6 finish any less sweet for the former Beatle. His newest, Chaos and Creation in the Backyard, racked up close to 92,000 scans. Bob's son Damian Marley opens at #7, with Welcome to Jamrock moving nearly 86,000 copies to give him the best-performing debut of his career.
Regulars the Black Eyed Peas and Mariah Carey take the chart's #8 and #9 slots, respectively, with 83,000 close to copies of Monkey Business and nearly 75,000 The Emancipation of Mimi CDs being carried away from retail outlets this week. And the latest release from former Gap Band frontman Charlie Wilson, Charlie, Last Name Wilson, is in at #10, netting debut-week scans of more than 71,000.
And that's not the last of the week's triumphant debuts. Coming in at #14 is the newest disc from Trapt, Someone in Control, with sales scaling the 61,000 barrier. David Gray's Life in Slow Motion follows at #16, with close to 58,000 scans in its first week of release. Iceland's Sigur Rós take the chart's #27 spot with sales of nearly 33,000 for Takk... and DJ Quik's Trauma opens at #43 with just under 24,000 copies sold. Tracy Chapman's latest, Where You Live, earned 21,000 scans for a 49th place showing, and in at #56 is Southern hip-hop collective Little Brother's The Minstrel Show, with 18,000 in week-one sales.
Bush's Gavin Rossdale is back on the Billboard chart with Distort Yourself, the debut offering from his new band, Institute. The record sold more than 12,000 copies to take the #81 position. Meanwhile, a fresh batch of tracks from the Dandy Warhols, in the form of Odditorium or Warlords of Mars, pops up at #89, with almost 11,000 albums sold.