Despite an underperforming first single and a back-to-the-drawing-board delay, Rick Ross' "Mastermind" beats out Pharrell's "G I R L" to open atop the Billboard 200 and Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums with 179,000 copies sold in the week ending March 9, according to Nielsen SoundScan. This is Ross' fifth chart-topper and it follows 2012's "God Forgives, I Don't" which opened with 218,000, the best first-week sales figure in his career.
The initial "Mastermind" single, "No Games" (featuring Future), arrived in November but failed to connect with fans, peaking at No. 49 on Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs. It was ultimately scrapped from the album. Ross' next single, "Devil is a Lie" (featuring Jay Z), instantly beat its predecessor with a No. 48 debut on the chart dated Feb. 1. It reaches a new peak on the March 22 chart thanks to a 44-26 jump.
As alluded to before, Pharrell's "G I R L" opens at No. 2 with 112,000 first-week units. For comparison's sake, the album's only single, "Happy," sold 490,000 downloads in the week ending March 9, pushing its release-to-date total to 2.6 million. Meanwhile, last week's No. 1 debut, Schoolboy Q's "Oxymoron," drops to No. 3 with a 78% decline to 30,000.
Ashanti's fifth studio album "Braveheart" also overcame numerous delays in its rollout to debut at No. 4 with 28,000. The set is her first independent release through her Written Entertainment label and was first slated to hit retailers on April 17, 2012. Consequently, "The Woman You Love" (featuring Busta Rhymes) was serviced as a single and reached No. 33 on the Mainstream R&B/Hip-Hop airplay chart in March 2012. Much like Ross' low-peaking "Games," "The Woman You Love" failed to make the final version of "Braveheart."
Beyonce's self-titled surprise set falls 3-5 to close out the region with a 21% drop to 25,000.
Over on Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, "Happy" continues its roll with a fifth week at No. 1. John Legend's "All of Me" moves closer to the top with 3-2 step, overtaking Jason Derulo's "Talk Dirty" (featuring 2 Chainz) which falls 2-3. Beyonce's "Drunk in Love" (featuring Jay Z), Aloe Blacc's "The Man," and Kid Ink's "Show Me" (featuring Chris Brown) all stay put at Nos. 4, 5 and 6, respectively, as do Eminem's "The Monster" (featuring Rihanna) and YG's "My Hitta" (featuring Jeezy and Rich Homie Quan) at Nos. 7 and 8.
Closing out the top 10 are Ty Dolla $ign's "Paranoid" (featuring B.o.B) stepping 10-9 to push Beyonce's "Partition" 9-10 in its 11th week.
Further down the list, much-buzzed-about rap newcomer Iggy Azalea scores her second appearance on Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs as "Fancy," featuring indie darling Charli XCX, opens at No. 27. The debut is fueled by the March 4 premiere of its video, which pays homage to the 1995 movie "Clueless." Domestically, the clip was viewed 720,000 times on YouTube (in the week ending March 9) while worldwide, its view count is upwards of 5.6 million.
Azalea's first hit on the list was "Work," which peaked at No. 35 last September. "Work" was supposed to set up the October release of her debut "The New Classic" but the album was pushed back to accommodate her supporting role on Beyonce's Mrs. Carter World Tour, among other commitments. "The New Classic" is now slated for an April 14 release.
Atlanta rapper Future also benefits from a video debut as his latest single "Move That Doh," featuring Pharrell, Pusha T and Casino, opens at No. 36 on Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs. The song's star-studded clip -- with cameos from Tyler, the Creator, Schoolboy Q and Wiz Khalifa -- was released March 6 and caused its U.S. streams to jump 341% to 780,000. Future's "Honest" is now due April 22.