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"The release schedule through the rest of the year looks extremely strong for Urban, so I’m very excited."
——Violet Brown, Wherehouse Music
CLONES ALONE!!!
The Neptunes Lead a Quartet of Hip-Hop Newcomers to the Top 10, Including Bow Wow. T.I., Juelz Santana
Thank god for Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo.

As producers, The Neptunes have put their mark on a number of hit records, and now they have one of their own in the Star Trak/Arista album The Neptunes Present... Clones. It debuts this week at #1 on the HITS’ Top 50, one of six new entries in the Top 10, beating last week’s chart-topper, Arista Nashville’s Alan Jackson, with more than 245k sold. So far, so good.

The other big story is Epic/Sony Music Soundtrax’s Chicago album, which experienced a revival of almost 800%, thanks to last week’s DVD release, climbing to #5.

The rest of the Top 10 included hip-hop debuts from Columbia/CRG’s Bow Wow (#3), Atlantic/Atl.G’s T.I. (#4) and Roc-A-Fella/IDJ’s Juelz Santana (#7), along with Columbia diva Mrs. Lachey, aka Jessica Simpson (#10). Hellcat/Epitaph ska punks Rancid were the next highest debut at #14.

Wherehouse Music’s Violet Brown boasted her chain had eight Urban titles in their Top 10 this week and that colleague Bob Bell now has to buy her lunch for a week. "The Neptunes is the biggest new-release debut we’ve seen in a long time, while T.I. and Bow Wow are number two and three with us. The South is on fire right now, so there’s lots of room for these two albums to continue. The release schedule through the rest of the year looks extremely strong for Urban, so I’m very excited."

The rest of the Top 10 included perennials Bad Boy/Universal’s Bad Boys II soundtrack (#6), Wind-up’s still-strong goth-rockers Evanescence (#8) and Columbia solo superstar Beyoncé (#9).

Other chart debuts were registered by RCA Nashville country songstress Sara Evans (#19), Reprise’s venerable Neil Young & Crazy Horse (#22), Liberty country crooner Dierks Bentley (#31), DreamWorksAlien Ant Farm (#34), Arista’s hard metallists Adema (#37) and Octone/J’s buzz band Maroon 5 (#49).

Aside from Chicago, the week’s other top gainer was Mercury/IDJ’s Shania Twain, who went back Up! 42-15 with a 99% leap on the strength of the airing of her NBC-TV special, plus the new single, "Forever and Always."

Next week it’s another duel of age-disparate divas, as Geffen’s Mary J. Blige goes up against Buena Vista/Hollywood’s Hilary Duff.

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