Following a hailstorm of publicity and several hit singles, rapper 50 Cent's "Get Rich or Die Tryin'" debuts this week on top of The Billboard 200. As previously reported, the Shady/Aftermath/Intersco

Following a hailstorm of publicity and several hit singles, rapper 50 Cent's "Get Rich or Die Tryin'" debuts this week on top of The Billboard 200. As previously reported, the Shady/Aftermath/Interscope set was rush released last Thursday to combat bootlegging, but even with that short sales period it sold a massive 872,000 copies in the U.S., according to Nielsen SoundScan, the fourth-highest weekly total achieved by a rap album. The title also tops Billboard's Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums tally.

The best sales week for a rap album belongs to Eminem's "The Marshall Mathers LP," which sold a staggering 1.76 million copies when it debuted in June 2000. That set and the rapper's "The Eminem Show," account for the three highest sales weeks. The latter was also released on an off-cycle date, instead of the traditional Tuesday retail bow, and sold 1.32 million copies in its first full week last June and 881,000 copies in its second-full week. 50 Cent places ahead of Snopp Dogg's "Doggystyle" (Death Row), which opened at No.1 in 1993 with 803,000 copies.

50 Cent has two tracks in the top-20 of Billboard's Hot 100 -- the new album's "In Da Club," and the Shady/Interscope "8 Mile" soundtrack cut "Wanksta." In addition, 50 Cent's 2002 Full Clip album "Guess Who's Back?" sold an additional 26,000 copies, but falls 28-45 on The Billboard 200.

The 50 Cent sales wave extended to many of the albums in the upper echelon of the chart, as most experienced some kind of sales gain. Last week's No. 1, the Dixie Chicks' "Home" (Monument/Columbia), saw a 9.8% sales burst, but its 114,000 copies place it a distant No. 2. The album is also No. 1 for an 11th-straight week on Billboard's Top Country Albums roundup.

Kid Rock, whose top-20 Hot 100 single "Picture" with Sheryl Crow continues to perform well at both radio and retail, saw a 28% sales gain for his Lava/Atlantic set "Cocky." The set sold 104,000 copies and takes a 7-3 jump in its 64th week on the chart, bringing the album to its highest position to date.

Norah Jones' "Come Away With Me" (Blue Note/Capitol) sold about 101,000 copies, similar to its previous week's tally, but takes a 2-4 dip due to 50 Cent's debut and Kid Rock's rise. Canadian teen sensation Avril Lavigne is showing no signs of slowing down, as her Arista debut "Let Go" moved another 83,000 copies, a 3% gain, but falls one slot to No. 5. As previously reported, Lavigne leads the field for Canada's 2003 Juno Awards with six nominations.

The Epic soundtrack to "Chicago" holds at No. 6 on The Billboard 200 on sales of 81,000 copies, a 3% boost from the previous week. A larger increase is sure to come following yesterday's (Feb. 11) announcement of 13 Oscar nominations for the film, including one in the best picture category.

Jennifer Lopez's "This Is Me ... Then" (Epic) is down 5-7, but sold 79,000 copies, matching its previous week's total. With a little help from J. Lo, LL Cool J's "10" (Def Jam) saw an incredible 490% gain to 66,000 copies, sending the album on an 84-9 tear on The Billboard 200. The set, which debuted in November at No. 2, has been refashioned with "All I Have" featuring Lopez, a No. 1 Billboard Hot 100 single, which accounts for the sudden sales explosion.

New to the top-10 is country singer Blake Shelton's sophomore effort "The Dreamer" (Warner Bros.). The set debuts at No. 8 on The Billboard 200 and No. 2 on the Top Country Albums chart. Rounding out the top-10 is Missy Elliott's "Under Construction" (Elektra). The set sold 66,000 copies, which is a 7% gain from the previous week, when it ranked at No. 9.

Last week's top debut, Zwan's "Mary Star of the Sea" (Martha's Music/Reprise), suffered a 58% drop-off in its second week to sales of 38,000 copies. The decline sends the album from former Smashing Pumpkins leader Billy Corgan's new outfit tumbling 3-27.

Veteran acts Alabama and Lionel Richie see healthy entries on The Billboard 200 this week. Alabama's RCA compilation "In the Mood: The Love Songs" enters at No. 15 on sales of 51,000 copies, while Richie's hits package, "The Definitive Collection" (Universal), arrives at No. 21 after moving 43,000 copies.

DreamWorks' reissue of the All-American Rejects' self-titled debut album gives the rock act a No. 25 entry on the big chart on sales of 40,000 copies. The group, whose album was originally released last year via Doghouse Records, has been getting the major label push and airplay on MTV2.