It's been five years since the release of Diddy's last studio LP, The Saga Continues. And although he hasn't spent that time resting on his laurels — he's been busy overseeing his Sean John and Bad Boy empires, performing on Broadway, running the New York City Marathon, developing his own line of commercial fragrances, toiling to promote voter registration and many other endeavours — there's a lot riding on this long-in-the-making LP, which debuts at #1 on next week's Billboard albums chart.
"This #1 right here is probably the most heartfelt one to me," Diddy told MTV News on Tuesday evening. "Because this is the only album where it wasn't about the extra drama that was going in my life; it was about the music. Also, being away for five years and the climate of this industry, nothing is a given. And to come out and have a #1 album on my fifth album, it's definitely one of the greatest feelings. I'm just appreciating it more and understanding it, after all the ups and downs in my career."
Press Play — which features contributions from Mary J. Blige, Brandy, Keyshia Cole, Christina Aguilera, Ciara, Nas, Big Boi and Cee-Lo, among others — scanned 170,500 units in a rather tepid week at retail outlets, but it was more than enough to earn Diddy the third #1 of his solo career: 1997's No Way Out topped the charts with 561,000 scans, and 2002's We Invented the Remix opened at #1 with 255,000-plus scans. (The Saga Continues and 1999's Forever both debuted at #2.)
Diddy's was one of 18 new releases to make it into next week's Billboard albums chart, according to the latest SoundScan totals. This chart's #3 belongs to JoJo's latest, The High Road, which sold more than 108,000 units its first week in stores. Also debuting in the top 10 are country musician Dierks Bentley's Long Trip Alone, which scanned more than 82,000 copies, and "American Idol" season-two champ Ruben Studdard, whose latest, The Return, opens at #8 with more than 70,000 sold.
Evanescence's The Open Door will spend a second week at #2 with 112,000 scans, while Justin Timberlake's Futuresex/ LoveSounds climbs three spots with 99,000 in week-six sales. Rod Stewart's Still the Same ... Great Rock Classics of Our Time falls five slots from #1 to #6 with 79,000-plus scans, while Hinder's Extreme Behavior climbs two spots to #7, selling close to 76,000 units. Tony Bennett's Duets: An American Classic slips to #9 with 68,000 scans, and the Killers' Sam's Town rounds out the top 10 with nearly 62,000 copies sold.
Other debuts include Vince Gill's These Days (42,000 scans to land at #17), Frankie J's Priceless, which bows at #30 with sales of 26,000, and Devil's Got a New Disguise: The Very Best of Aerosmith which enters at #33 with 23,000 scans. Meanwhile, Hi-Tek's Hi-Teknology, Vol. 2 bows in the #38 slot, chalking up 22,000 in first-week sales, and Sarah McLachlan's Wintersong lands at #42 with sales at 19,500. Just making the top 50 is Xzibit's latest, Full Circle, which enters at #50 on 16,700 scans.
Checking the debuts further down the chart, Cradle of Filth's Thornography lands at #66 with 13,000 copies sold, followed at #72 by the latest Swishahouse collection, The Day Hell Broke Loose, Vol. 3, which sold 12,700 units in its first week. Primus pops up at #105 with They Can't All Be Zingers: The Best of Primus selling to the tune of 9,100, while the Shiny Toy Guns debut at #131 with 6,900 copies of their We Are Pilots being carried away from the nation's record shops. Me First and the Gimme Gimmes land at #169 with Love Their Country racking up 5,400 in week-one sales, and It Dies Today's Sirens follows at #174 with 5,300 scans.