Jay-Z architect of No. 1 spot

Keys holds on to second, boosted by 'SNL' appearance

Rapper-entrepreneur Jay-Z settled in at the top of the heap in this week’s charts, but sales for all of the top performers ebbed from last week’s levels amid a general retail malaise nationwide.

“Blueprint” (Def Jam) claimed the No. 1 spot with just under 174,000 units sold, SoundScan reports indicated. That’s down 36% from the album’s prior outing, but still good enough to put it within a week’s sales of platinum territory after less than a month in the running.

‘SNL’ visibility

Holding strong at No. 2 was J Records’ Alicia Keys, who won raves for her perfs on “Saturday Night Live” last weekend. Still, sales of Keys’ debut record “Songs in A Minor” were also off, at 8%, albeit far less than those of “Blueprint.”

Arista’s “Totally Hits 2001” pop compilation was the week’s highest debut, racking up 139,000 in sales and landing in third place. Album, which includes tracks from Missy Elliott, P. Diddy, Outkast, Dido and O-Town, did not match the blowout numbers racked up by recent installments of the “Now That’s What I Call Music” series, the most recent of which sold more than 600,000 copies in its first week alone.

‘Rain’ flow

“Day Without Rain,” (Warner) the latest release from ethereal new-age songstress Enya, continued its rebound this week, gaining three spots to No. 4, as music buyers and radio stations picked up on its cathartic themes following last month’s tragedy. “Rain” has moved more than 2.7 million discs to date.

Also picking up speed was R&B lothario Usher, whose fifth LP “8701” (Arista) shot up from No. 23 to ninth place.

Among the other debuts to place high this week were “Declaration” (Sparrow) by Steven Curtis Chapman, at No. 14, the self-titled debut of joke-rock band Tenacious D (Epic) at No. 33, and rock compilation “Pulse” (Razor & Tie) at No. 46.

Next week’s new releases will likely be ruled by rapper Ja Rule, whose Island/Def Jam album “Pain Is Love” is a contender for the top five.

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