The Neptunes, the red-hot production duo that has helped shape hits for such stars as Nelly and Justin Timberlake, entered the national sales chart with their own album Wednesday.
"The Neptunes Present 'The Clones' " features the Neptunes (Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo) working with a variety of hip-hop artists, including Busta Rhymes and Jay-Z, on 18 tracks.
The album sold 249,000 copies in its first week in the stores to claim No. 1 by a comfortable margin over volume two of Alan Jackson's "Greatest Hits" package, which was the runner-up. The Jackson album, which was No. 1 on last week's chart, sold 158,000 copies to give it a two-week total of 489,000 copies.
Four other artists joined the Neptunes in cracking the Top 10 this week: Bow Wow (No. 3), T.I. (No. 4), Juelz Santana (No. 7) and Jessica Simpson (No. 10). Other new releases in Top 25: Rancid (No. 15), Sara Evans (No. 20), Neil Young (No. 22) and Amy Grant (No. 23).
The "Chicago" soundtrack, which spent several weeks in the Top 10 when it was released early in the year, jumped back into the Top 10, going from No. 99 to No. 6 thanks to interest generated by the release last week of the DVD edition of the film.
Looking ahead, Mary J. Blige's "Love & Life," released Tuesday, is expected to be No. 1 next week.