Ludacris scores his fourth No. 1 on the Billboard 200 as "Battle of the Sexes" debuts atop the tally with 137,000 copies. The album is the rapper/actor's follow-up to 2008's "Theater of the Mind," which peaked at No. 5. Counting "Battle," Ludacris (aka Christopher Bridges) has scored seven top 10 sets, including his previous No. 1s -- "Release Therapy" (2006), "The Red Light District" (2004) and "Chicken N Beer" (2003).
The album also ties Luda for the third-most No. 1s among rap acts. His total brings him up to speed with the Beastie Boys, but trails 2Pac, DMX, Eminem and Nas, who each have five No. 1s. The all-time leader among rap acts is Jay-Z, with 11. Coincidently, "Battle of the Sexes" is the first rap album to top the Billboard 200 since Jay-Z's "The Blueprint 3" took hit No. 1 in early October 2009.
The animated band Gorillaz (the brainchild of flesh-and-blood musician Damon Albarn) debuts at No. 2 with its third studio effort, "Plastic Beach." It's the act's highest-charting album and, with 112,000 units sold, it arrives with its best sales week yet. Gorillaz' previous high rank came when their last studio set, "Demon Days," debuted and peaked at No. 6 with 107,000 in 2005.
Lady Antebellum's "Need You Now," Last week's No. 1 on the Billboard 200, slips to No. 3 with 105,000 (down 17%) in its seventh week on the list.
Jimi Hendrix's "Valleys of Neptune," is the chart's next highest debut, starting at No. 4 with 95,000 units sold. It's the legendary singer/guitarist's highest-charting album since "The Cry of Love" reached No. 3 in 1971. The new release is a recently discovered collection of previously unreleased studio recordings Hendrix made before he died in 1970. Since his passing, Hendrix has been seemingly ever-present on the Billboard 200, as he's charted 34 posthumous albums, including "Valleys of Neptune."
Country singer Gary Allan's "Get Off on the Pain" debuts at No. 5 with 65,000 units sold. It's Allan's fourth straight top 10 album following "Tough All Over" (No. 5 in 2005), "Greatest Hits" (No. 5 in 2007) and "Living Hard" (No. 3 in 2007).
Broken Bells, the collaboration between Brian Burton (aka producer Danger Mouse) and the Shins' singer James Mercer, is the final new entry in the top 10 this week -- the pair's self-titled album debuts at No. 7 with 49,000 units sold.
As for the holdovers in the top 10 this week, Sade's "Soldier of Love" is down four rungs to No. 6 with 52,000 (down 34%), Lady Gaga's "The Fame" is down one to No. 8 with 48,000 (down 3%), the Black Eyed Peas' "The E.N.D." also drops one spot to No. 9 with 43,000 (down 8%), and Blake Shelton's "Hillbilly Bone" falls seven slots to No. 10 in its second week with 29,000 (down 60%).
Overall album sales in this past chart week (ending March 14) totaled 6.1 million units, down 3% compared with the sum last week (6.3 million) and down 8% compared to the comparable sales week of 2009 (6.6 million).