Bone Thugs-N-Harmony's double CD "The Art of War" sold 394,000 copies last week to debut at No. 1 on the national album sales charts, according to SoundScan.
While impressive, the figure pales when compared to the first-week sales of other rap collections this year by the Notorious B.I.G., Sean "Puff Daddy" Combs and the Wu-Tang Clan, all of which broke the 500,000-copy sales mark.
Combs, meanwhile, maintained his stronghold on the charts with both the No. 2 album ("No Way Out") and the No. 2 single ("I'll Be Missing You," which also features vocals by Faith Evans).
The record that ended Combs' nine-week reign atop the singles chart? B.I.G.'s "Mo Money, Mo Problems," which Combs produced, co-wrote and performs on.
Here are some recent releases that are generating critical or commercial attention:
Puff Daddy & the Family's "No Way Out" (Bad Boy). By finally stepping past the vainglorious gloss and letting us in on his deepest feelings and doubts, Bad Boy Entertainment's CEO reveals his potential and power as an artist.
Prodigy's "The Fat of the Land" (Maverick). "Fat," which employs samples from such varied sources as Ultramagnetic M.C.'s and the Breeders, carries you along with the sonic rise and fall of a spectacular roller-coaster ride.
Bone Thugs-N-Harmony's "The Art of War" (Ruthless/Relativity). Bone Thugs-N-Harmony helps draw a close to rap's bicoastal war, joining the rapid-fire wordplay of the East Coast with the bass-heavy, deeply melodic funk sound of the West.
Sarah McLachlan's "Surfacing" (Arista). While McLachlan's well-timed new album showcases her considerable strengths, it also suffers from a lack of compelling craftsmanship and textural daring.
"Men in Black--The Music" (Columbia). Will Smith does effective double duty as an actor in the movie and as a rapper on the album, but it's some interesting pairings as well as contributions from A Tribe Called Quest and Nas that cement the album's appeal.
In stores now: 311's "Transistor" (Capricorn/Mercury).
Tuesday: Morrissey's "Maladjusted" (Mercury), SWV's "Release Some Tension" (RCA).
Aug. 26: Coolio's "My Soul" (Tommy Boy), Oasis' "Be Here Now" (Epic).