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Eminem's ''Encore'' tops albums chart again

Eminem’s ”Encore” tops albums chart again — Meanwhile, John Legend is the sole newcomer in the Billboard top 10

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Looks like a lot of kids used their holiday gift cards to ring in 2005 hip-hop style. In fact, a couple hundred thousand used their Aunt Irma’s generous gift to snatch a copy of Eminem’s Encore, which lived up to its name by spending its fourth non-consecutive week at the top of the Billboard album chart for the week ending Jan. 2. While Encore‘s sales of 198,000 were down a hefty 54 percent from the previous week, its trajectory mirrored the total U.S. album market, which slipped 51 percent from the pre-Christmas rush to 15.9 million units sold.

Other rap discs lodged in the top 10 alongside Slim Shady’s included Lil Jon & the East Side Boyz’ Crunk Juice (No. 3, with 144,000 copies sold); MTV Ultimate Mash-Ups Presents Jay-Z and Linkin Park: Collision Course (No. 4, with 135,000 copies); Ludacris’ Red Light District (No. 5, with 126,000 units); and the late Tupac Shakur’s Loyal to the Game (No. 8, with 115,000 units).

John Legend found himself as the only new kid in the top 10 this week, dropping in at No. 7 with his Get Lifted, which sold 116,000 copies in its first week.

Rounding out the top slots were Green Day’s American Idiot, which surged from No. 9 to No. 2, despite a 40 percent sales decline to 170,000 discs; Usher’s Confessions (No. 6); NOW That’s What I Call Music 17!, which fell from No. 2 to No. 9; and Destiny’s Child’s Destiny Fulfilled (No. 10).

Billboard reported that among its top 200 albums, only three recorded sales increases over the previous week: the Garden State soundtrack, The Phantom of the Opera soundtrack, and rock quartet Snow Patrol’s Final Straw.

Still, the record industry can warm itself with the news that its total 2004 sales — 681 million units — was up 3.8 percent compared to 2003.