P. Diddy and "Boys" Top Chart

New soundtrack gives Puffy second straight Number One

The star-studded soundtrack to Bad Boys II sold 324,000 copies in its debut week, according to SoundScan, to handily secure the Number One position. The album, which boasts new cuts from P. Diddy, Beyonce, Jay-Z, Snoop Dogg, Justin Timberlake, Nelly, Fat Joe and numerous others, is the flagship release (and an apt one) for Diddy's Bad Boy Records, which the hip-hop mogul recently bedded with Universal.

Bad Boys II finds P. Diddy continuing to move closer to regaining his late-Nineties Midas touch. After his 1997 solo release, No Way Out (which sold 561,000 copies in its first week), the former Puff Daddy's sales started to head south. Forever, released two years later, sold less than half that figure in its debut week, and missed a Number One bow. Ditto 2001's The Saga Continues, which mustered an even more measly 186,000 copies. But Diddy was always a better businessman and producer than he was a rapper (and, for that matter, dancer). Last year's We Invented the Remix found him successfully rejiggying Bad Boy cuts to the tune of a 256,000 unit debut week, a number handily topped by BBII.

As for the rest of the charts, things looked better than a week ago, with cumulative sales in the Top 200 up a half million. Rap and country music fared best. Just behind BBII was Chingy's Jackpot. The Ludacris discovery looks to be the latest minted rap star from the South, selling 157,000 copies of his debut. Da Brat and Keith Murray made modestly successful returns. The former sold 39,000 copies of Limelite Luv and Niteclubz (her first album in three years) at Number Seventeen. The latter returned five years after his last record (a jail term among the reasons for the delay) with He's Keith Murray, which sold 27,000 copies at Number Forty. As for the country, veteran country duo Brooks and Dunn scored a Number Four debut with Red Dirt Road (Number 114,000) and Texas singer-songwriter Pat Green, who has culled a remarkable grassroots following over the past five years, squeaked into the Top Ten with Wave on Wave, which sold 53,000 copies.

And this year's "Smooth Criminal" Award for savvy cover song looks like a lock for the Ataris. The band's cover of Don Henley's "Boys of Summer" (on So Long Astoria) is warming up. The tune earned the group a primetime spot during festivities for Major League Baseball's All-Star Game, and the album has jumped from Number 102 two weeks ago to Number Sixty-five on this week's chart.

But much of what the rest of the chart had to offer was grim, particularly Macy Gray, who is in dire need of a hit single. Her third album, The Trouble With Being Myself, stumbled out of the gate at Number Forty-four with sales of 24,000.

A gaggle of new releases flooded record stores Tuesday and should make for an interesting chart next week. Mya's Moodring follows her high-profile appearance as part of the "Lady Marmalade" remake two years ago, and also has the momentum of a strong single. And Jane's Addiction fed famished fans with Strays, their first collection of new songs in thirteen years.

This week's Top Ten: The Bad Boys II soundtrack; Chingy's Jackpot; Beyonce Knowles' Dangerously in Love; Brooks and Dunn's Red Dirt Road; Ashanti's Chapter II; Evanescence's Fallen; 50 Cent's Get Rich or Die Tryin'; Luther Vandross' Dance With My Father; Norah Jones' Come Away With Me; and Pat Green's Wave on Wave.