Moves 727,000 copies in the U.S.

Despite slow overall sales throughout the holiday season, the week leading up to Christmas saw a retail burst led by a trio of R&B/hip-hop artists that shifted more than 1.75 million copies to lead The Billboard 200.

With sales of 727,000 copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan, Mary J. Blige's "The Breakthrough" (Geffen) emerges as the No. 1 title on The Billboard 200, followed by Jamie Foxx's "Unpredictable" (J) and the late Notorious B.I.G.'s star-filled "Duets: The Final Chapter" (Bad Boy) to fill the chart's top three slots.

At 33 million units, CD sales were up by a whopping 34% from the previous week and up 2% compared to the same week a year ago. At 602 million units, sales in 2005 lag behind 2004 by 10%.

Featuring guest appearances by Jay-Z, Raphael Saadiq and featuring Bono, "The Breakthrough" is Blige's 11th title to appear on The Billboard 200 and marks her the third trip to the top. The set was preceded by the single "Be Without You," which is in the top 5 on Billboard’s Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, and bows at No. 1 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart.

A musician long before scoring as an actor, Foxx's return to music moved an impressive 598,000 to debut at No. 2. The "Ray" star began stirring the musical waters earlier this year as a featured performer on Kanye West's smash hit "Gold Digger." Foxx first cracked The Billboard 200 in 1994 with his debut album "Peep This" which peaked at No. 78.

A boatload of guests -- including Eminem, Jay-Z, R. Kelly and Blige -- join the Notorious B.I.G. on "Duets" in the No. 3 position on the chart based on sales of "Duets: The Final Chapter" with 438,000 copies. The Bad Boy release comes nearly nine years after the rap icon's death and is the artist's third Billboard 200 No. 1, all achieved posthumously.

Eminem's "Curtain Call: The Hits (Shady/Aftermath/Interscope) falls 1-4 this week despite a 33% increase to 430,000. "American Idol" star Carrie Underwood's "Some Hearts" drops 2-5, though sales jumped 48% to 401,000. In its 37th week on the chart, Mariah Carey's "The Emancipation of Mimi" (Island Def Jam) climbs 7-6 on a 52% sales increase to 290,000 units.

The 20th volume in the "NOW That's What I Call Music!" hits compilation (BMG/Zomba/EMI/UME) dips 3-7 with 283,000 (+9%), while Kenny Chesney's "The Road and the radio" (BNA) slides 5-8 with 269,000 copies (+24%). Nickelback's "All the Right Reasons" dips 6-9 on 265,000 (+38%) and Kelly Clarkson's "Breakaway" falls 8-10 on 230,000 (+27%) to round out the top tier.

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