Ashanti’s album No. 1

Siren bounces Beyonce to second with 'Chapter'

Def Jam/Murder Inc. princess Ashanti knocked Beyonce Knowles off the diva mountain this week, claiming the top position in the latest album charts and besting Knowles’ first-week sales numbers from the last session.

Ashanti’s sophomore release, the aptly titled “Chapter II” (Def Jam), scanned more than 326,000 units in its first time out. Perf falls well short of her self-titled debut, which moved a half million copies in its inaugural week, aided by heavy discounting at retail.

But it was still enough to top Knowles’ solo bow, ” Dangerously in Love” (Columbia), which sold 317,000 copies when it landed at No. 1 in the last frame. This week it fell to No. 2, as sales slipped by 42% to 183,000 discs.

The remainder of the top 10 held its shape for the most part, with ailing R&B crooner Luther Vandross showing impressive resilience by staying at third place, as sales dropped off just 16% to 100,000 units. But Vandross and all eight other returning performers in the top 10 saw sales slip from the prior session.

The soundtrack to action sequel “Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle” (Columbia) registered gains this week, climbing two places to 12 following the pic’s opening weekend. “Throttle,” which features tracks from Pink, Journey and Bon Jovi among others, boosted sales by 6% to 53,000.

The second-highest debut in the rankings came from country singer Buddy Jewell, whose eponymous debut took the 13th spot. Album, which features country star Clint Black as producer and on background vocals, scanned nearly 52,000 discs.

The only other new releases to crack the top 50 were “Truth About Men” (MCA Nashville) from Tracy Byrd at 33, selling 28,000 units, and at 48, the rap compilation “Totally Hip-Hop” (BMG Heritage), which sent more than 23,000 copies out the door.

Ashanti is likely to hang on to her No. 1 position in next week’s chart outing — barring a steep sales dropoff or any unforeseen competition. Among the other contenders for the next session will be the English-language debut from Mexican diva (and wife of former Sony Music topper) Thalia, as well as a greatest-hits package from country singer Trace Adkins.

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