Hip-hop veteran Nas achieves his sixth No. 1 album on the Billboard 200 as Life Is Good bows with 149,000 sold, according to Nielsen SoundScan. That surpasses initial forecasts for the set by industry prognosticators, which had pegged it to begin with around 125,000.
Nas previously hit the top with It Was Written (1996), the collaboration set The Firm (1997; with Foxy Brown, AZ and Nature), I Am (1999), Hip Hop Is Dead (2007) and Untitled (2008). The latter -- Nas' last solo studio release -- arrived with 187,000. More recently, his 2010 Distant Relatives collabo effort with Damian "Jr. Gong" Marley started at No. 5 with 57,000.
On the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart, Nas also debuts at No. 1, securing him his ninth topper on the tally. Among rap acts, only Jay-Z has earned more leaders on the R&B/Hip-Hop chart, with 12.
Last week's No. 1 album on the Billboard 200, Zac Brown Band's Uncaged, falls to No. 2 with 78,000 (down 67%). The new Kidz Bop 22 collection starts at No. 3 with 64,000, marking the 15th top 10 for the long-running series. The latest entry in the franchise offers up kid-friendly covers of such Billboard Hot 100 top 10 singles as the Wanted's "Glad You Came," Justin Bieber's "Boyfriend" and Nicki Minaj's "Starships."
The last regular Kidz Bop title, Kidz Bop 21, bowed at No. 2 earlier this year with 59,000. A No. 1 set still eludes the Kidz, as the line has launched a total of four No. 2-peaking albums.
In its second week, Frank Ocean's Channel Orange slips two spots down to No. 4 with 54,000 (down 59%) after becoming widely available to all retailers last week. (That number does not include sales from Amazon MP3, as it sold the title for $2.99 last week. Per Billboard policy, that is below the minimum price of $3.49 required for sales to count toward chart placement during an album's first four weeks of release.)
Bieber's Believe dips 3-5 with 45,000 (down 1%) while a surprising album returns to the chart at No. 6. Phil Collins' Hits bounds back onto the list with 40,000 sold (up 4,575%) after Amazon MP3 sold the set for 99 cents one day last week. Unlike the Ocean album, this title's discounted Amazon MP3 sales are eligible because the set is more than 4 weeks old.
Hits originally peaked at No. 18, where it debuted, on Oct. 24, 1998. With the album's return to the list, it instantly gives Collins his first top 10 -- and highest-charting album -- since 1989's But Seriously spent four weeks at No. 1 and completed a top 10 run in April of 1990. It's now his fourth top 10, joining But Seriously, Face Value (No. 7), Hello, I Must Be Going! (No. 8) and No Jacket Required (No. 1).
Hits isn't the only set impacted by 99 cent pricing by Amazon this week, as Bruno Mars' Doo Wops & Hooligans rises from No. 135 to No. 11 with 27,000 (up 644%) and Demi Lovato's Unbroken zooms 124-27 with 13,000 (up 239%). The latter was promoted for 99 cents on Sunday, July 22, the same day she co-hosted Fox TV's "Teen Choice Awards."
One Direction's Up All Night holds at No. 7 with 36,000 (down less than 1%) while the soundtrack to The Dark Knight Rises debuts at No. 8 with 33,000. The Water Tower Records soundtrack is the first top 10 album from a "Batman" film since 1997's Batman & Robin flew to No. 5. That effort was a various-artists affair, unlike the new Knight set, which features only Hans Zimmer's score.
The Dark Knight Rises is the first all-score set to reach the top 10 since Daft Punk's instrumental soundtrack to Tron: Legacy peaked at No. 4 on the Jan. 22, 2011, list. The Dark Knight Rises is also the highest-debuting score album in slightly more than 10 years. The last to bow higher was John Williams' Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, which launched at No. 6 on the May 11, 2002, chart.
Rounding out the top 10 on the Billboard 200 this week is Adele's 21 (8-9 with nearly 33,000; down 7%) and Maroon 5's Overexposed (5-10 with 29,000; down 35%).
Over on the Digital Songs chart, we have a new No. 1 as Flo Rida's "Whistle" rises 3-1 with 211,000 (up 10%). It's his first chart-topper since 2009's "Right Round" spent six weeks atop the list. Flo bumps last week's No. 1, Katy Perry's "Wide Awake," down to No. 3 with 170,000 (down 17%).
Jason Aldean's new single "Take a Little Ride" debuts at No. 2 with 189,000 -- the largest debut sales week ever for a digital song by a male country artist. It beats Scotty McCreery's debut with "I Love You This Big" a little more than a year ago, when it launched with 171,000.
Carly Rae Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe" slips 2-4 (164,000; down 19%), Ellie Goulding's "Lights" rises 6-5 (134,000; down 11%), and P!nk's "Blow Me (One Last Kiss)" descends 4-6 (nearly 134,000; down 22%).
Maroon 5's "Payphone" (featuring Wiz Khalifa) falls 5-7 (131,000; down 15%) while fun.'s "Some Nights" jumps into the top 10, rising 11-8, with 120,000 (up 16%). David Guetta's "Titanium" (featuring Sia) drops 7-9 (116,000; down 8%), and Cher Lloyd's "Want U Back" dips 9-10 (110,000; down 4%).
Right outside the top 10, No Doubt's new single "Settle Down" arrives at No. 13 with 87,000 downloads. How long has it been since No Doubt released a new single? So long that the group had never previously charted on the nearly 8-year-old Digital Songs chart. The Digital Songs tally launched in late 2004 -- months after the group's last single, 2003's "It's My Life," completed its run on Billboard's charts.
Overall album sales in this past chart week (ending July 22) totaled 5.4 million units, down 4% compared with the sum last week (5.56 million) and down 5% compared with the comparable sales week of 2011 (5.62 million). Year-to-date album sales stand at 167.2 million, down 3% compared with the same total at this point last year (172 million).
Digital track sales this past week totaled 24.5 million downloads, down 2% compared with last week (25.1 million) and up 2% stacked next to the comparable week of 2011 (24.1 million). Year-to-date track sales are at 773.5 million, up 6% compared with the same total at this point last year (731 million).
Next week's Billboard 200 competes with the same week in 2011 when: Eric Church's "Chief" came in at No. 1, selling 145,000 in its first week. Adele's "21" slipped from No. 1 to No. 2 with 83,000 (up 7%) while Kelly Rowland's "Here I Am" bowed at No. 3 (77,000).