Rapper's 'Battle of the Sexes' debuts at #1

Rapper-actor Ludacris has burst onto the U.S. album chart at No. 1 with his seventh studio release, “Battle of the Sexes,” the biggest of five debuts in the national top 10 this week.

The DTP release tracked 137,000 units in its first week in stores, according to Nielsen SoundScan data for the week ending March 14. It’s Ludacris’ fourth chart-topping release; his most recent album, “Theater of the Mind,” peaked at No. 5 two years ago.

Gorillaz’s “Plastic Beach” (Virgin) arrives at No. 2. Third collection by the cartoon band masterminded by Blur’s Damon Albarn shifted 112,000 out of the box. Virtual group is among the headliners at the Coachella fest in April.

Forty years after his untimely death, Jimi Hendrix charts a new release, “Valleys of Neptune” (Experience Hendrix/Sony Legacy), which debuts at No. 4. Package of previously unreleased material marks sales of 95,000. It enters one position shy of the No. 3 debut of Hendrix’s first posthumous set, “The Cry of Love” in 1971.

Hard-edged country singer Gary Allan continues his chart roll with the No. 5 debut of his “Get Off On the Pain” (MCA Nashville), which climbs aboard with 65,000 units sold. The vocalist has logged four consecutive top-10 debuts.

Broken Bells, the debut collaboration between Shins front man James Mercer and mix-master and Gnarls Barkley maestro Danger Mouse — chimes in at No. 7 with its self-titled Columbia debut. Package rang up 49,000 sales. Duo’s current tour includes a stop at South by Southwest in Austin this week.

A pair of former No. 1 albums hold down slots near the apex this week. After returning to the pinnacle last week, Lady Antebellum’s “Need You Now” (Capitol Nashville) drifts down two positions to No. 3 behind a 105,000-unit frame. Country threesome’s set lost 17% but still managed a six-figure week. Sade’s “Soldier of Love” (Epic) drifts down four slots to No. 6, losing 34% in a 52,000-unit frame.

Lady Gaga’s “The Fame” and Black Eyed Peas’ “The E.N.D.” continue to maintain sales heat for Interscope. Gaga’s set drops a post to No. 8 (off just 3%), tracking 47,000 units, while the Peas’ album declines a notch to No. 9 (slipping 8%), scanning 43,000.

Country singer Blake Shelton’s “six-pack” mini-album “Hillbilly Bone” (Warner Bros.) falls seven positions to No. 10 in its second week, dropping 60% in a 28,000-unit week.

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