Chart-based stories on Ashanti, Hank Williams Jr., Tweet, Faith Evans, Ja Rule, and Tim McGraw.
OVERNIGHT SENSATION: Four months ago this week, Ashanti had never appeared on The Billboard Hot 100. She made her chart debut the week of Nov. 17, 2001, as the featured artist on Ja Rule's "Always on Time," which just completed a two-week run at No. 1. Fast forward to March 2002, and Ashanti has pulled off a rare feat, one that may not have been seen since the Beatles did it in 1964.
The week before "Always on Time" advanced to No. 1, two more songs by Ashanti entered the Hot 100: "What's Luv?" by Fat Joe featuring Ashanti, and "Foolish," the artist's first solo effort. For the week ending March 9, "What's Luv?" jumps 23-15 and "Foolish" rockets 51-29. That means Ashanti's first three chart entries are all in the top-30 portion of the chart at the same time.
With "Always on Time" moving down the chart, it's unlikely that Ashanti will be able to match what the Beatles accomplished in 1964. The A-sides of their first three chart entries, "I Want to Hold Your Hand," "She Loves You," and "Please Please Me" occupied the top three positions on the Hot 100 the week of March 14, 1964.
HANK DID IT THIS WAY: If a single takes more than 30 weeks to reach the No. 1 spot on The Billboard Hot 100, it's news. But what must be the all-time longest wait to reach No. 1 on any Billboard chart occurred this week. It happened on the Top Country Catalog Albums chart, where Hank Williams Jr.'s "Greatest Hits, Vol. 1" (Curb) moves to the top in its 402nd chart week.
The album has a long history. In its present form, the greatest hits collection debuted on the Top Country Albums chart the week of Jan. 22, 1994. It peaked at No. 55 and spent 31 weeks on the chart. It moved over to the Catalog chart the week of Dec. 3, 1994, entering at No. 9. It peaked at No. 2 the week of March 25, 1995. Between that week and the week of Nov. 16, 1996, the album spent 49 non-consecutive weeks at No. 2. Since November 1996 that album has not managed to chart higher than No. 3, although it did so the week of March 25, 2000, and then again two weeks ago. It then fell to No. 5, and then made its surprise and long awaited advance to No. 1.
An earlier version of the album, released on Elektra/Curb with a different catalog number, debuted on Top Country Albums the week of Oct. 23, 1983, and peaked at No. 5, with a 342-week chart run.
TWEET'S TREAT: "Oops (Oh My)" (The Gold Mind/Elektra) isn't the first chart entry for R&B singer Tweet, but it is her first solo effort and her first No. 1 hit, as the song climbs to the top of the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks chart.
Born in Rochester, N.Y., as Charlene Keys, the singer first appeared on the R&B chart the week of Nov. 3, 2001, guest starring with Ginuwine on "Take Away" by Missy "Misdemeanor" Elliott. One week later, Tweet had two songs on the chart, as "All Y'all" by Timbaland and Magoo, with Tweet as featured artist, made its first appearance. "Take Away" peaked at No. 13 the week of Jan. 19 and "All Y'all" peaked at No. 58 the week of Nov. 17, 2001.
Those two album cuts helped build some awareness of Tweet. Her first solo effort, "Oops (Oh My)" debuted the week of Jan. 15, and this week it displaces Mr. Cheeks' "Lights! Camera! Action!" at the top of the chart.
HAVE FAITH: The first lady of the Bad Boy label, Faith Evans, has her biggest hit on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks chart in two-and-a-half years. "I Love You" jumps 7-3, making it Evans' highest-charting title since "Never Gonna Let You Go" reached the pole position the week of Sept. 11, 1999.
Evans' only other top-10 hit since "Never Gonna Let You Go" was "You Gets No Love," which peaked at No. 8 the week of Nov. 17, 2001. She has two songs in the top-50 portion of the R&B chart this week, as the similarly titled "I Miss You" (Ruff Ryders/Def Jam), which features her with DMX, drops 37-41.
Should "I Love You" go all the way, it will be Evans' fourth No. 1 on the R&B chart, albeit only her second solo effort. Evans' chart career began with "You Used to Love Me," which peaked at No. 4 the week of Aug. 26, 1995. She first topped the chart in June 1997 with "I'll Be Missing You," a collaboration with Puff Daddy that featured the group 112. In February 1999, Evans had her second No. 1 hit with "Heartbreak Hotel," a Whitney Houston single that featured Evans and Kelly Price.
A PAIR OF DOUBLES: It's rare for one artist to have two titles in the top-3 of any chart, but it happens on two different Billboard lists this week. On The Billboard Hot 100, Ja Rule becomes the first artist since Puff Daddy in August 1997 to hold down the top two spots. The remix of "Ain't It Funny" (Epic), a Jennifer Lopez track that features Ja Rule, moves 3-1, replacing "Always on Time" (Murder Inc./Def Jam) by Ja Rule featuring Ashanti, which slips 1-2.
On Billboard's Hot Country Singles & Tracks tally, Tim McGraw occupies two out of the top three positions. "Bring on the Rain" (Curb), a duet by McGraw with Jo Dee Messina, marches 3-1, while McGraw's own "The Cowboy in Me" (Curb) moves 5-3. And it's likely that McGraw will be No. 1 and No. 2 next week.