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"Toby Keith has definitely touched a nerve with America, and his first-week sales reflect it. I can only believe that Springsteen will see the same kind of profound American groundswell."
——Jerry Suarez, Virgin Entertainment Group

RED, WHITE & GREEN!!!

Now, Lil Wayne, Mario and TRUSTcompany All Bow in Top 10
He’s mad as hell and ready to kick some foreign butt.

That’s DreamWorks Nashville’s Toby Keith, who wears the Stars and Stripes on his sleeve for the post-Sept. 11 anthem, "Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue," which has helped catapult his new Unleashed album into the top spot on this week’s HITS Top 50.

Virgin Entertainment Group’s Jerry Suarez hit his office spittoon at 20 paces, then commented: "Toby Keith has definitely touched a nerve with America, and his first-week sales reflect it. I can only believe that Springsteen will see the same kind of profound American groundswell."

Now Vol. 10, this time out on Epic, was the runner-up, with Fo’ Reel/Universal’s Nelly, RCA’s Dave Matthews Band and Aftermath/Interscope’s Eminem rounding out the Top Five.

Cash Money/Universal’s Lil Wayne debuted at #6 and J Records’ soul prodigy Mario bowed at #9, while first-week Geffen rockers and Firm clients TRUSTcompany came in at #10. Arista’s Avril Lavigne (#7) and WB’s Red Hot Chili Peppers (#8) completed the Top 10, while Arista’s Boyz II Men barely missed that mark, with their initial record for the label debuting at #11.

Lulled to sleep by this week’s Rerap column, Suarez woke up long enough to opine: "Lil Wayne had a very solid week, showing that he’s created a real fan base from his first record. Mario should be a record that’s going to be around for awhile. TRUSTcompany proves to be another in a long line of successes at Geffen/Interscope. And Boyz II Men show some surprising muscle with their comeback record."

UMVD sports five of the Top 10, while L.A. Reid’s Arista grabs three of the Top 13, with Pink joining Lavigne and Boyz II Men.

Next week, it’s all about the Boss, whose latest Columbia album will undoubtedly be Rising on the charts. Also on tap, Heavenly/AstralwerksBeth Orton, Island/IDJ’s Def Leppard, J Records’ Lamya, Reprise’s Filter, LAC/Elektra/EEG’s Knoc-Turn’al and WB’s Linkin Park remix album.

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