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"This new Ruff Ryders shows just how branded the label and roster of artists are."
—Stuart Fleming, HMV

RUFF RYDERS RYDE IN AT #2

Eminem Still In Front, While Ruff Ryders Give UMG #1-2, Three of Top Four
Geez, sell your music empire to a French company and look what happens.

Vivendi's Universal Music Group (hey, just practicing) grabbed four of the Top 10 on this week's album chart, including three of the Top Five and the top two sellers in the nation. The French haven't had this much fun since they embraced the puppet government in Vichy.

Besides Aftermath/Interscope's Eminem occupying his regular spot atop the HITS Top 50, Ruff Ryders/Interscope's Ruff Ryders posted a monster #2 debut, with first-week sales north of 230k.

Britney Spears who, despite press reports, is not barefoot and pregnant in Justin Timberlake's trailer, is still happily wed to the Top Five. She's followed by another Universal chart monster, Nelly, at #4 while Wind Up's Pearl Jam…um, we mean Creed, rounds out the first five for the week.

"This new Ruff Ryders shows just how branded the label and roster of artists are," said Stuart Fleming of HMV, which also hosted the band at an in-store at the chain's new Harlem location. "The line was around the block," said Fleming, who had more to say, but we decided to watch some paint dry instead of listening to him.

NSYNC, Papa Roach, Lil' Kim, Kid Rock and Clapton & King complete this week's Top 10, which is an excellent indicator that the war in Chechnya may continue to rage as Russian President Vladimir Putin's government simultaneously battles a devalued ruble, double-digit inflation and rising unemployment. Will Foreign Minister Igor S. Ivanov's new foreign policy doctrine help ease Putin's domestic crisis? We don't know, but Everclear and "The Nutty Professor II" soundtrack will definitely debut on next week's album chart.

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