Fabulous Debut

Mystikal sneaks into the Top Ten as shoppers wrap up their holiday siege

Look's like Master P, this year's most newsworthy rap mogul, had one more surprise in store for music fans before they flip their calendars to '99. His protTgT Mystikal's Ghetto Fabulous, which features No Limit stalwarts Silkk the Shocker and Snoop Dogg as well as Busta Rhymes, hit stores during arguably the busiest music sales week of the year and sold nearly 400,000 copies. That was enough to garner the week's highest debut, landing the disc at No. 5 for the week ending December 20, according to SoundScan.

How big was last week? Busta Rhymes' latest, E.L.E., debuted by selling more than a quarter-of-a-million copies but still couldn't crack the Top Ten. Also, sales for forty-eight of the top fifty albums increased last week. Garth Brooks' Double Live, meanwhile, remained No. 1 for the fifth week in a row. That album has been busy defining the word blockbuster by selling at least 400,000 copies a week since its release.

Industry eyes have been glued to the fourth quarter as scores of superstars released new titles. Two of the biggest commercial surprises have been Jewel's Spirit and Offspring's Americana. In just five weeks in stores Spirit has sold 1.6 million copies, according to SoundScan, thanks in part to last week's whopping seven-day tally of 433,000 copies sold. That's remarkable considering Jewel's debut hit, Pieces of You, never sold more than 200,000 in one week during its nearly two-year run on the charts. As for the Offspring, many wrote them off after Ixnay on the Hombre, the follow-up to their early Nineties punk blockbuster Smash, stiffed. Yet the Southern California band, riding the wave of its modern rock radio hit "Pretty Fly (for a White Guy)," is back, selling 284,000 copies last week.

With so much competition in stores, very few titles made big chart gains last week. The exception was the soundtrack to the animated holiday movie, The Prince of Egypt. That record jumped from No. 43 to No. 28.

From the top, it was Garth Brooks' Double Live (selling 548,000 copies), followed by 'N Sync (536,000); Celine Dion's These Are Special Times (462,000); Spirit (433,000); Ghetto Fabulous (386,000); The Backstreet Boys (348,000); Mariah Carey's # 1's (329,000); Shania Twain's Come On Over (289,000); Americana (284,000); and 'N Sync's Home for Christmas (266,000).