Eminem's backing boosts group's debut

With a little help from Slim Shady, rap outfit D-12 handily staked out the top spot in an album chart peppered with strong new releases.

D-12, which includes members of notorious Detroit rapper Eminem’s home-town crew, brought hip-hop back to the top of the charts with “Devil’s Night,” its debut release on Interscope/Shady Records. Album shifted just under 372,000 units, according to SoundScan data.

The bow knocked “Take Off Your Pants and Jacket” (MCA), from former chart-toppers Blink 182, down to third place, behind “Break the Cycle” from Flip/Elektra metal act Staind.

Vandross is hot

J Records’ flagship artist Luther Vandross’ eponymous release alighted at No. 6 in its first week on the charts, marking the Bronx-born R&B veteran’s best debut to date, with more than 135,000 copies sold.

“Luther Vandross” is the first of what is expected to be two strong bows in a row for J: Precocious 20-year-old chanteuse Alicia Keys, the latest protege of J founder Clive Davis, is seen charting in the top five next week with “Songs in A Minor.”

Three more new releases followed Vandross into the top 10. At seventh was ex-Dru Hill R&B lothario Sisqo, whose sophomore LP “Return of Dragon” (Def Jam) moved 124,000 units. Stone Temple Pilots’ “Shangri-la Dee Da” (Atlantic) took ninth place, and rap-rock forerunners 311 claimed the 10th spot with their sixth album, “From Chaos” (Volcano).

‘Furious’ on fast track

Sales of the soundtrack to hit actioner “The Fast & the Furious” (Def Jam) raced up seven spots to No. 11, following the film’s $40 million debut weekend. Continuing to hold its own was the “Moulin Rouge” soundtrack (Interscope), which slipped a spot to fifth, but edged to within 80,000 units of platinum status after just seven weeks on the chart.

Among the other debuts in the top 200 were “This Ain’t a Game” (Atlantic) by Ray J at 21; Mandy Moore’s self-titled third album (Epic) at 35; “Gorillaz” (Virgin), from the Damon Albarn-fronted group of the same name, at 39; the soundtrack to the John Singleton drama “Baby Boy” (Universal) at 47; and “Don’t Tell the Band” (Sanctuary) from jam-band stalwarts Widespread Panic at 57.

Next week’s chart should see action from R&B quartet Jagged Edge, as well as Philadelphia rapper Beanie Sigel.

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