Hip-hop charts top

Deep discounts help Combs brush off shelves

Hip-hop impresario Sean “P. Diddy” Combs’ latest invention laid claim to the top spot in the album charts Wednesday, leading a diverse array of strong new releases that unseated all but one of last week’s top five discs.

“P. Diddy & Bad Boy Records Present: We Invented the Remix” (Arista/Bad Boy) sold almost 256,000 copies in its debut week, thanks in large part to the growing trend among the majors toward deep discounting of new releases to empty the shelves more quickly.

Many of the top performers in recent months, including Ashanti’s self-titled debut, Big Tymers’ “Hood Rich” and Tweet’s “Southern Hummingbird,” have boosted volumes by discounting their sales price to retailers, who pass the savings along to record buyers.

No. 1 bow may also raise the rapper-producer’s profile in the industry as he looks for a new home for his Bad Boy imprint, following the expiration of his contract with BMG unit Arista Records. Rumors have circulated that Sony Music is a candidate; label execs weren’t available for comment.

Falling in behind Combs and friends was Harlem-born rapper Cam’ron, whose third LP, “Come Home With Me” (Def Jam), scanned just short of 226,000 units in its first outing.

Weezer bows strong

Geek-rock quartet Weezer bowed in third place with “Maladroit” (Geffen), shifting nearly 152,000 discs Album comes almost exactly a year after its eponymous breakout release, which bowed in first place last May and has since gone platinum.

And chrome-domed electronica guru Moby took fourth with “18” (V2), so named for the number of tracks on the disc. Moby’s latest effort sold more than 126,000 copies.

The only top-fiver to return was Musiq’s (formerly Musiq Soulchild) “Juslisen” (Def Jam/Def Soul), which sank from first to fifth after sales tumbled by more than 55% to 116,000.

But just behind him was legendary prog-rock act Rush, which managed to sell 108,000 copies of its latest album, “Vapor Trails” (Atlantic), in its first outing. Sixth-place bow was among the best in the group’s 28-year recording career.

Another veteran, soulful Irishman Van Morrison, checked in at 25 with his newest studio release, “Down the Road” (Universal) with 36,000 units sold, while Baltimore hip-hop duo Ruff Endz took 27 with “Someone to Love You” (Epic) — also selling 36,000 discs.

The soundtrack to “Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones” (Sony Classical) logged one of the biggest gains of the week, climbing from 46 to 21 on a sales increase of nearly 40%. Score got a bump as “Star Wars” fans flocked to theaters during the pic’s opening weekend last week.

Next week keep an eye out for Sony Music’s Latin crooner Marc Anthony, whose seventh LP, “Mended,” came out Tuesday and is expected to bow inside the top five.