Mase on top with ‘World’

Rapper fends off Twain, comes in #1 for second week

“Harlem World,” the solo debut from hip-hop artist Mase, was the best selling album in the nation for the second consecutive week.

The disc successfully held off a trio of challengers, including country songstress Shania Twain, whose latest had been expected to topple Mase from atop the album sales chart. The twanger’s disc nabbed the No. 2 spot instead, according to sales data released Wednesday.

The strong bows from a diverse group of artists this early in the all-important fourth quarter also signals a propitious holiday selling season for the labels and retailers.

“This past week we’ve had a significant surge in business thanks to the number of new releases,” Ian Duffell, prexy/CEO of Virgin Entertainment, told Daily Variety. “As a result, we’re very optimistic about Christmas because the sales have started earlier this year than last and have given us a confidence boost.”

More than 175,000 copies of Mase’s Bad Boy/Arista Records disc were sold during the period ended Nov. 9, compared to 172,000 copies of Twain’s Mercury Records album “Come On Over.”

The disc from Mase, which continues to benefit from a hit single, “Feel So Good,” closes the disc in on 500,000 copies sold in its three weeks on store shelves. It continues to be the top seller at most major retail chains.

Ironically, the track also appeared on the “Money Talks” soundtrack, but failed to catch fire until label marketing execs used it as part of the set-up of Mase’s bow.

“We were (concerned) that Mase wasn’t going to be No. 1 this week because of the popularity of (Twain),” said Jayson Jackson, veep of marketing for Bad Boy. “But he has been on three No. 1 hits and has clearly had an effect on mainstream pop. The fans are responding and its just the first track.”

Def Jam’s Jay-Z nabbed the chart’s No. 3 rung with the bow of “In My Lifetime.” More than 139,000 copies were sold during the period and edged out Universal Records’ rapper Rakim, whose double-disc set “The 18th Letter” logged 136,000 copies and nabbed the chart’s No. 4 post.

The Rakim disc — which boasts the rapper introducing some of the songs with short monologues — surprisingly topped chart stalwart LeAnn Rimes. The singer’s’ Curb Records disc “You Light Up My Life” dropped three rungs to No. 5 on sales of 126,000 copies.

Rakim’s bow gives Universal its second presence in the chart’s Top 10. The label is also holding sway with the growing sales of Chumbawamba’s “Tubthumper,” which lands at No. 6 on sales of 95,000 copies and was the chart’s only top 10 holdover to finish higher than last week.

Despite the hype surrounding the Spice Girls’ film and TV entry, the eagerly awaited sophomore disc from the Spice Girls, “SpiceWorld” bowed with sales of 83,000 copies.

The seemingly slow start for the Virgin Records disc mirrors the release of the group’s debut “Spice” 10 months ago. “Spice,” which has a tally of 4.5 million copies, took months to build momentum. The earlier disc logged 59,000 units during the period and checked in at No. 16.

Rounding out the Top 10 were Fleetwood Mac’s Reprise Records disc “The Dance,” which logged 77,000 copies and landed at No. 9, and MCA Records act Aqua at No. 10.

“Aquarium,” the debut from Aqua, fell three notches on sales of 74,000 copies.

The Swedish quartet continues to benefit from its catchy single “Barbie Girl,” and the label’s legal imbroglio with Mattel, which provides publicity and a corresponding sales boost.

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