Alicia Keys Tops P.Diddy

Lackluster sales for "The Saga Continues"

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Alicia Keys rallied in the third round of her slugfest with D12, as the R&B singer's debut album, Songs in A Minor returned to the Number One slot with sales of 221,813, according to SoundScan, a jump of nearly 50,000 copies from its previous week's tally. D12's Devil's Night had to settle for Number Three as P. Diddy and the Bad Boy Family's The Saga Continues arrived at Number Two, with sales of 185,759.

The success of Songs in A Minor has been refreshing in an otherwise stagnant chart, as music sales continue to sputter through a cruel, cruel summer. The proof is in the P. Diddy. Whether his handle be Puff, P., Diddy or Daddy, the Bad Boy bad boy has seen his releases met with increasing indifference by music fans over the past four years. The 561,000 copies of No Way Out that he sold in its debut week in 1997 dwarfs the combined sales of those of his latest and Forever, which moved 205,000 copies its opening week in 1999. And his upcoming gospel project hardly instills a sense of security among long-term Diddy investors, who have sent his once-hearty stock plummeting.

The fact that Diddy couldn't muster a blockbuster also underscores the first major hip-hop slump of recent memory. The past year has found new breakout stars in Ja Rule, Mystikal and Ludacris and posthumous staying power with 2Pac, but summer is in full-swing without a "Country Grammar" or "The Real Slim Shady" or "Shake Ya Ass" and hip-hop sales, like most other sales, are sagging. Devil's Night and the St. Lunatics' Free City are still hovering below 1 million sales, in their fourth and sixth weeks of release. Beanie Sigel's The Reason has fallen out of the Top Twenty after only three weeks. Jay-Z, DMX and Ja Rule all have recordings in the works, but those reinforcements are miles away -- all three scheduled for fall release.

Not that rock & roll is faring particularly better, as Melissa Etheridge cracked the Top Ten with Skin, which just topped 80,000 copies sold. This week's other significant debuts included boy-band Dream Street's self-titled album (Number Forty-five) and hip-hoppers Tha Liks' X.O. Experience (Number Forty-seven).

Elsewhere, Train's Drops of Jupiter topped 1 million copies sold in its sixteenth week of release, while Enya's Day Without Rain passed the 2 million mark.

Next week may bring more inspiring new offerings, as Aaliyah's Aaliyah hits stores a year after she helped make the Romeo Must Die soundtrack a hit and British R&B import Craig David will try to repeat his international success with Born to Do It.

This week's Top Ten: Alicia Keys' Songs in A Minor (221,813 copies sold); P. Diddy and the Bad Boy Family's The Saga Continues . . . (185,759); D12's Devil's Night (156,531); Staind's Break the Cycle (148,876); Destiny's Child's Survivor (113,256); Jagged Edge's Jagged Little Thrill (107,746); Blink-182's Take Off Your Pants and Jacket (91,291); Lil Romeo's Lil' Romeo (85,376); Melissa Etheridge's Skin (83,048); and Linkin Park's Hybrid Theory (80,347).