Tupac’s ‘Game’ tops the charts

'Loyal' third posthumous release to debut at No. 1

Eight years after his murder, Tupac Shakur is again topping the charts.

“Loyal to the Game” (Amaru/Interscope) becomes his third posthumous release to enter SoundScan’s album sales chart at No. 1, selling 330,000 copies.

Disc is the eighth release from Shakur since he was fatally wounded in Las Vegas in September 1996. His last release, 2002’s “Better Dayz,” sold 36,000 more copies but debuted at No. 5.

Shakur was one of three debuts in the top 50 in a holiday shopping week that saw 41 of the returning albums post sales increases. Ashanti’s “Concrete Rose,” (Def Jam) sold 254,000 to take No. 7, making it her first album of original material not to debut at No. 1. Xzibit, rapper and host of MTV’s “Pimp My Ride,” debuted at No. 43 as his “Weapons of Mass Destruction” (Columbia) sold 81,000 copies in its first week.

Plenty of copies of hits compilation “Now That’s What I Call Music! Vol. 17” (Capitol) will be landing under Christmas trees. Album posted a 33% increase in sales last week, selling 323,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

Shania Twain’s “Greatest Hits” (Mercury Nashville) saw almost as big a percentage leap, moving the album up two slots to No. 4 on sales of 311,000.

Usher’s “Confessions” (LaFace/Zomba) drew a 41% increase to 237,000 sold, putting the year’s bestselling disc back into the top 10. This week’s No. 9 seller has a cume of 7.5 million.

The RIAA, which tracks units shipped, also declared “Confessions” the biggest album of 2004, having shipped 8 million copies. Usher was also part of the inaugural group of artists to earn the RIAA’s new digital sales award. His single “Yeah!” was certified platinum (200,000 downloads) while “Burn” was certified gold (100,000 downloads). Usher earned another digital gold award for “My Boo,” his duet with Alicia Keys.

Green Day’s “American Idiot” (Reprise) continued to benefit from the recent Grammy noms, seeing a 38% spike from last week to sell 203,000 copies of an album expected to be high up on many year-end lists.

Last week’s debuts slipped out of the top 10 as the pole-sitter, Ludacris’ “Red Light District” (Disturbing Tha Peace/Def Jam South), dropped to No. 12 on sales of 213,000. Lindsay Lohan’s “Speak” (Casablanca), slid 10 slots to No. 14 on sales of 192,000.

The top 13 all posted sales of more than 200,000 copies, the same as last year, but only 32 albums topped 100,000 — three fewer than 2003’s comparable list.

Greatest hits albums saw boosts in sales, as is usual this time of year. They included collections from Toby Keith, George Strait, Creed, Britney Spears, Neil Young, Guns N’ Roses, Korn, Pearl Jam, Brooks & Dunn, John Mellencamp, Dean Martin, Rolling Stones, the Beach Boys, Seal, Alan Jackson, Terri Clark, Sheryl Crow, George Jones and “Now 16.”

In boxed sets, Nirvana’s “With the Lights Out” (Geffen) saw an 8,000-copy spike; Capitol’s CD collection of the first four American Beatles records, “Vol. 1 Capitol Albums,” saw a 6,500-unit bump to 28,000; and “100 Million Bon Jovi Fans Can’t Be Wrong” (Island) rose 2,000.

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