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Rap’s ‘Ruff’ week

Compilation leads disc sales; TLC 2nd

The rap compilation disc “Ruff Ryders: Ryde or Die Vol. 1” was the bestselling album in the nation last week, according to sales data released Wednesday.

The Ruff Ryders/Interscope Records disc, which boasts tracks from genre leaders DMX, Big Pun, Mase and Jay-Z, among others, ended TLC’s run in the top spot (its “FanMail” dropped to No. 2).

Nearly 285,000 copies of the “Ruff” disc went home with fans — a first-week tally that outpaced “FanMail” by more than 110,000 copies.

TLC’s LaFace/Arista Records disc, which has fluctuated weekly among the top rungs on the sales chart since its bow, has crossed the 2 million unit mark in its 10th week of release.

For the week ended May 2, overall industry sales action was soft again for the third consecutive week and down around 4% over the same period in 1998.

The year-to-date tally was also down by almost the same amount during the traditionally slow period for the industry heading into the summer months.

Of the Big Five congloms, Universal Music Group was the industry’s market share leader for current albums with 27%. BMG’s nabbed 17%, Sony landed 15.4% and was ahead of Warner’s 15% and EMI’s 7%.

Nas’ Columbia Records disc “I Am” slid a notch to No. 3 with a tally of more than 130,000 units.

Despite logging a 22,000-unit decline from the previous week, Nas’ sales nonetheless topped the No. 4 album, Shania Twain’s “Come on Over,” by more than 9,000 copies.

Twain’s Mercury Nashville disc posted an uptick of more than 8,000 copies over last week’s chart and was one of only eight discs in the Top 20 list — save for debuts — that posted sales increases over the previous chart.

The rise of Twain’s disc was helped by VH1’s reruns of her “Winter Break” spec, which bowed on CBS earlier this year, and the cabler’s reruns of Twain’s “Behind the Music” episode.

Britney Spears’ “Baby One More Time” album held steady at No. 5 for the second consecutive week and nabbed a more than 7,000-unit sales spike.

Sales of the teen queen’s Jive Records disc were boosted by a May 1 appearance on Nickelodeon’s “Kids’ Choice” Awards telecast and a number of first-time chat show stops such as “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno” and “Regis & Kathie Lee.” The shift by label marketeers to a new single, “Sometimes,” from the title track is also reigniting consumer interest in the disc.

Spears’ rise, which put the album over the 2.5 million-unit mark in its 16th week, shunted the ascension of Cher’s “Believe” disc.

“Believe” posted a sales decline of more than 7,000 units from the previous chart, a far cry from the significant gains earned by Cher’s April 13 appearance on VH1’s “Divas Live ’99” and subsequent airings of the show.

The soundtrack to the WB series “Dawson’s Creek” logged an impressive 88,000-plus unit bow and landed in the No. 7 slot.

The hefty first-week tally can largely be attributed to the heavy schedule of promotional spots for the disc on the weblet.

But the album’s content has not found favor among critics, and the disc has been widely slammed in print media.