Tupac's ''Loyal to the Game'' debuts at No. 1: It's the third chart-topper for the rapper since his murder in 1996; Ashanti's latest is the only other new disc in the top 10

By Gary Susman
Updated December 22, 2004 at 05:00 AM EST
Credit: Tupac Shakur: Kevork Djansezian/AP

Once again, Tupac Shakur showed that death has not slowed down his career. This week, the rapper’s Loyal to the Game, a collection of previously unreleased vocal tracks atop new beats by Eminem and other producers, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard album chart and sold 330,000 copies, according to SoundScan. It’s his third posthumous chart-topper since his murder in 1996, and it ended the one-week reign of Red Light District, by the still very much alive rapper Ludacris. That album dropped out of the top 10 altogether, landing at No. 12.

Thanks to holiday shoppers, most artists in the top 10 saw sales increases this week, even if they lost chart positions. Now That’s What I Call Music! Vol. 17 climbed three rungs to No. 2 and sold another 323,000 copies. Eminem’s Encore held at No. 3 and moved another 315,000 units. Shania Twain’s Greatest Hits rose two spots to fourth place and sold 311,000 copies. U2’s How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb switched places with Now Vol. 17, but despite its three-slot slide, the band saw sales rise 7 percent to 297,000.

Besides Tupac, Ashanti was the only artist this week with a top 10 debut; her Concrete Rose entered the chart at No. 7 on sales of 245,000. Destiny’s Child climbed one notch to No. 6 with Destiny Fulfilled. Toby Keith’s Greatest Hits 2 held at No. 8. Usher’s Confessions returned to the top 10, rising two places to No. 9 and pushing Jay-Z and Linkin Park’s Collision Course down one spot to tenth place.