R&B vocalist Monica lays claim the top spot on The Billboard 200 this week with the debut of her third album, "After the Storm." In an overall slow sales week, the J Records set sold 185,000 copie

R&B vocalist Monica lays claim the top spot on The Billboard 200 this week with the debut of her third album, "After the Storm." In an overall slow sales week, the J Records set sold 185,000 copies in the U.S., according to Nielsen SoundScan. The total was enough to edge out last week's No. 1, "Dance With My Father," from labelmate Luther Vandross. That set falls to No. 2 with sales of 182,000.

On the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums tally, however, the 1-2 finish is reversed, with Vandross' disc holding fast at No. 1 and Monica's bowing in the second spot. That chart is calculated based on sales at a genre-specific subset of retail stores.

The Billboard 200 showing is Monica's first-ever No. 1 album position, besting the No. 8 debut of her sophomore 1998 release, "The Boy Is Mine" (Arista). That album also debuted at No. 2 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart.

Last week's No. 2, 3 and 4 albums on The Billboard 200 -- Metallica's "St. Anger" (Elektra), Radiohead's "Hail to the Thief" (Capitol) and Annie Lennox's "Bare" (J), respectively -- each slip one spot. "St. Anger" withstands a 62% drop to 138,000 copies sold to place at No. 3 following its second full week of retail availability. Meanwhile, "Hail to the Thief" slipped 68% to sales of 96,000 albums and drops to No. 4, and "Bare" dropped 39% to come in at No. 5 with 93,000 copies sold.

50 Cent's "Get Rich or Die Tryin'" (Shady/Aftermath/Interscope) jumps one spot to No. 6 despite a 12% drop to sales of 85,000 copies. Norah Jones' durable "Come Away With Me" (Blue Note) leaps three places to No. 7 even though it suffered a 14% sales drop to 78,000 copies.

Evanescence's "Fallen" (Wind-Up), the "2 Fast 2 Furious" soundtrack (Disturbing Tha Peace/Def Jam South/IDJMG) and Kelly Clarkson's "Thankful" (RCA) round out the top-10.

Other top debuts this week include Type O Negative's "Life Is Killing Me" (Roadrunner) at No. 39 (with 27,000 copies sold) and the various-artists set "Reggae Gold 2003" (VP) at No. 43 (24,800 copies). Punk group Brand New's "Deja Entendu" (Razor & Tie) debuts at No. 63, and Dave Matthews Band violinist Boyd Tinsley's first solo album, "True Reflections," (RCA) checks in at No. 97.

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboard

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