Joel tops, rapper rises

Proving once again the immense popularity of hard-core hip-hop music, the debut album from Rap-a-Lot/Priority rapper Scarface entered the SoundScan sales chart at a lofty No. 7.

His “The World Is Yours” collection sold nearly 82,000 copies, according to the New York-based tally firm.

Rap not seen

Before SoundScan began counting actual unit sales at the point of purchase in 1991, using scanners to read an album’s bar code, rap-oriented albums were rarely seen near the top of the nation’s sales figures.

Even when rap records did approach the top 20, they were usually from more mainstream commercial acts like Hammer and Run-D.M.C. Scarface is a member of controversial Texas rap crew Geto Boys, whose incendiary lyrics have been the target of numerous protests and watchdog groups.

‘River’ flows

Topping the chart for the second week in a row is “River of Dreams,” the latest project from singer-songwriter Billy Joel. His Columbia collection was snapped up by 173,000 consumers.

The second highest selling release of the week is the soundtrack to the hit flick “Sleepless in Seattle,” which moved 128,000 copies.

Holding at No. 3 is “Black Sunday,” the sophomore effort from Columbia rappers Cypress Hill, while current Rolling Stone covergirl Janet Jackson remains in the fourth slot with her Virgin-issued “janet.”

Melon heads to top

Capitol buzz-band Blind Melon continues its climb toward the top with its eponymous debut. Up from No. 7 to No. 5, the MTV faves pushed more than 93,000 copies last week. The organic alternative-rockers will join Neil Young for much of his U.S. fall tour as the veteran singer’s opening act.

In the week’s other notable bows: Epic artist Babyface, of L.A. Reid and Babyface fame, enters at No. 17 with his latest, “For the Cool in You”; jazz/fusion supergroup Fourplay tees off at No. 70 with its Warner Bros. release “Between the Sheets”; and Kenny Loggins’ new one for Columbia, “Outside: From the Redwoods,” debuts at No. 97.

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