West 'Registers' No. 1 Album Debut

With "Late Registration," Kanye West rules the school as his sophomore Roc-A-Fella/Def Jam album makes a chart-topping bow on The Billboard 200 this week. After a few weeks of relatively low-key activ

With "Late Registration," Kanye West rules the school as his sophomore Roc-A-Fella/Def Jam album makes a chart-topping bow on The Billboard 200 this week. After a few weeks of relatively low-key activity on the album chart, West's latest leads a slew of high-profile debuts by G-Unit's Tony Yayo, Brooks & Dunn, Death Cab For Cutie, Casting Crowns, Rihanna, Eric Clapton and Bob Dylan.

The highly-anticipated "Registration" sold 860,000 copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan, besting the nearest competition by more than 600,000. The total is nearly double the outspoken producer/rapper's previous high water mark, achieved when his 2004 debut, "The College Dropout," opened at No. 2 with 441,000 units. That set has sold 2.7 million to date.

Along with being embroiled in a lawsuit with a Chicago DJ over an alleged forged recording agreement, West has been in the news following his highly-charged comments against President George W. Bush during last week's NBC Universal Hurricane Katrina telethon. He is slated to take part in another such event, MTV/VH1/CMT's "ReACT Now" benefit, on Saturday (Sept. 10).

Yayo's "Thoughts of a Predicate Felon" (G-Unit/Interscope) takes the No. 2 slot on The Billboard 200 with a 214,000-copy start. The rapper's solo debut is led by the single "So Seductive," featuring fellow G-Unit star 50 Cent, which reached No. 7 on Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs list.

Veteran country duo Brooks & Dunn earn its highest spot on the big chart with a No. 3 entry for "Hillbilly Deluxe" (Arista Nashville). Sales of 111,000 mark the second-largest opening week for the pair, just behind 2003's "Red Dirt Road," which opened at No. 4 with 114,000. Lead single "Play Something Country," recently became the duo's 20th No. 1 on Billboard's Hot Country Songs list.

One time indie kingpin Death Cab For Cutie reaches the highest chart spot of its career with its major-label debut, "Plans." Featuring the modern rock airplay single "Soul Meets Body," the Atlantic album debuts at No. 4 on sales of 90,000 copies. It's a huge leap from the band's 2003 Barsuk set "Transatlanticism," which started with just 13,000 at No. 97 before falling off the chart two weeks later.

Undeterred by the new titles in the crowd, Mariah Carey's "The Emancipation of Mimi" (Island/Def Jam) is holding its own, experiencing just a slight (3%) dip to 86,000 and falls 3-5. The Black Eyed Peas' "Monkey Business" (A&M/Interscope) also slips two places, landing at No. 6 on a 2% drop to 84,000.

The 19th installment of "NOW! That's What I Call Music" (EMI Group/Universal/Sony BMG/Zomba/Capitol) compilation slides 2-7 with an 18% drop to 78,000, and Hilary Duff's "Most Wanted" (Hollywood) drops to No. 8, her two-week chart-topping reign ended as sales spiraled 23% to 77,000 copies.

Casting Crowns enters The Billboard 200 at No. 9 with "Lifesong," thanks to a career-best sales week of 71,000 copies. The album also zooms to No. 1 on the Top Christian Albums tally. In 2004, the Christian group bowed at No. 198 on the big chart with 6,000 units sold of its self-titled debut; the album eventually reached No. 59 and to date has sold 1 million.

After storming the charts with "Pon De Replay" -- which peaked at No. 2 on The Billboard Hot 100 -- hip-hop newcomer Rihanna debuts at No. 10 on the album chart with "Music of the Sun" (SRP/Def Jam/IDJMG) with first-week sales of 69,000.

Outside the top tier, Eric Clapton's latest studio set, "Back Home" (Duck/Reprise), bows at No. 13 with 59,000 copies. The guitar great's last set of original material, "Reptile," started at No. 5 with 102,000 copies in 2001 and has sold 561,000 to date. As confirmed yesterday, Clapton will join his former Cream bandmates for an Oct. 24-26 run at New York's Madison Square Garden.

Fellow rock legend Bob Dylan enters The Billboard 200 at No. 16, his highest ranking on the chart in almost four years, with "No Direction Home: The Soundtrack -- The Bootleg Series Vol. 7" (Columbia/Legacy). The soundtrack to Martin Scorcese's biography of the singer/songwriter moved 51,000 copies. Dylan last reached the top 20 with 2001's "Love & Theft," which began at No. 5 with 134,000 copies and has sold 754,000 to date.

Also bowing inside the chart's top 50 are Herbie Hancock's "Possibilities" (Vector, No. 22), Yolanda Adams' "Day By Day" (Atlantic/WEA, No. 23), Cold's "A Different Kind of Pain" (Lava, No. 26), 30 Seconds To Mars' "A Beautiful Lie" (Virgin, No. 44) and Our Lady Peace's "Healthy in Paranoid Times" (Columbia, No. 45).

Overall U.S. album sales were up 8.6% from last week at 10.5 million units, but trailed the same week last year by 13%. Sales for 2005 are behind 2004 by 8.4% at 375 million units.