Jay-Z and Raekwon did what they hoped that they’d do. The two iconic emcees, who shared similarities over the years, including 1995 debuts, cocaine-inspired raps, and peculiar relationships with Nas, brought New York to the charts back together. Blueprint 3 followed its elders in the trilogy with a #1 debut, scanning just under gold in its first week. Jay-Z‘s latest statement was marketed through a concert dedicated to 9/11 victims and survivors, as well as a shut-it-down VMA performance, give or take a Lil Mama. Despite Lil Mama‘s “feeling the energy,” and her subsequent decision to join Jay-Z and Alicia Keys onstage sans invitation, the single “Empire State of Mind” moved from #212 up to #2 on the iTunes singles chart as well.

As for Raekwon, the Staten Island veteran inched close to 70,000 with his own sequel – the 14 years later update, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx 2. Released through Chef’s own Ice Water imprint, he was backed and distributed by the ’09-secret success story, EMI Records. With most Best Buy’s in the country not shelving the album until Thursday, the indie-major hybrid dominated iTunes in the week, and was backed by Raekwon parties on each coast, as well as Park Hill Projects Day, where Raekwon was amongst his core neighborhood fans. The album is Rae‘s most elaborate to date, with Dr. Dre, RZA, Erick Sermon, Alchemist, J Dilla, Pete Rock and Marley Marl all contributing production.

Pop Queen, who once has worked with Wyclef Jean [click to read] and Murder Inc., Whitney Houston, was sandwiched between the Rap titans with I Look The You. Ms. Brown sold nearly 100,000 more records. With a two-hour Oprah special this week, it’s not unlikely that the Arista Records keystone artist may go gold in three weeks, nearly 17 years into her career. Trey Songz came in at #6, selling another 45,000 units of his Ready [click to read]. The singer’s third album is supported by Drake, Gucci Mane [click to read], Fabolous [click to read] and Soulja Boy [click to read].

The Black Eyed Peas [click to read] bounced back in a major way, perhaps due to the half a million Rap record buyers pulling out their purses and wallets. The California squad bounced from #11 to #7, and was just marginal units away from over-taking Trey. Quite distant from their Ruthless Records roots on The E.N.D. [click to read], The Peas aren’t stopping at platinum.

* please note: figures below approximated to nearest thousandeth.

Top 200 Album Sales (Top 5 Hip Hop/R&B)

Rank Artist Album This Week Est. Total
1 Jay-Z Blueprint 3
476,000 476,000
3 Whitney Houston Bang! Pow! Boom!
88,000 399,000
4 Raekwon Only Built 4 Cuban Linx 2
68,000 68,000
6 Trey Songz Ready 45,000 178,000
7 The Black Eyed Peas The E.N.D. 44,000 1,071,000

Def Jam recogized the worth of having Rap-buying traffic in stores. Jay-Z‘s longtime home packaged his first two Blueprint albums with a promotional poster in a box-set, and positioned the release alongside the chart-topping. Nostalgic and collection-minded fans purchased nearly 14,000 of the special product, affirming Hov‘s catalog appeal to all generations.

Eminem dipped his almost mandatory weekly-two more spots to #32 with his Relapse [click to read], an album that may reach 1.5 million units sold before October. Fabolous was close behind with his own matured album Loso’s Way, another product for Def Jam. Beanie Sigel, an artist who’s presently a fugitive in New Jersey, is finding independent success with his Broad Street Bully album. Without marketing or promotion (or production credits), the State Property-heavy release on Siccness Records spent its second week on the charts, and surpassed the five-figure mark.

Another beneficiary of Rap-buying traffic was Redman & Method Man. While their homie Raekwon made a gallant return, another veteran Wu member and his partner bumped back into the charts, after close to a two month absence with their own sequel, Blackout 2.

Rank Artist Album This Week Est. Total
30 Jay-Z Blueprint Collector’s Edition
14,000 14,000
32 Eminem Relapse 14,000 1,425,000
33 Fabolous Loso’s Way
14,000 221,000
115 Beanie Sigel Broad Street Bully 4,000 11,000
200 Redman & Method Man Blackout 2
2,300 148,000

How will Rae stay? Can Kid Cudi overtake Jay? Stay tuned to HipHopDX to find out.