HITS Daily Double
Paul Wall is an extreme long shot for #1, with Kanye West the strong favorite to prevail for the third straight week.


A Houston Rapper, an ex-Beatle and a Marley Among a Crowded Field of New Releases
White rapper Paul Wall, the latest up-and-comer to emerge from the same Houston hip-hop scene that spawned Mike Jones, is cruising toward a first-week total in the 160k-170k range. That total oughta be enough to make Wall’s Asylum/Atlantic album #2, with a VERY outside shot at the top spot held for the last two weeks by Roc-A-Fella/IDJ superstar Kanye West, who’s expected to hold serve.

Next week’s second-biggest bow should be from country songstress Trisha Yearwood, whose MCA Nashville album is sashaying toward a finish in the neighborhood of 110k-120k.

Battling it out for the bronze medal are Paul McCartney—whose new Capitol album is garnering the strongest reviews of any Macca or Wings LP since the ’70s—Jive/ZLG’s Charlie Wilson and Interscope girl group Pussy Cat Dolls, all of whom are trending 75k-80k. And any or all of the above could conceivably be caught or surpassed by or second-gen Rastaman Damian Marley, on Tuff Gong/Universal, who’s smoking his way toward 70k-75k.

The rest of the field looks like this, based on early reports:
Switchfoot (Columbia): 65k-70k
Trapt (WB): 55k-60k
Lonestar (RLG): 35k-40k
Bonnie Raitt (Capitol): 35k-40k
David Gray (ATO/RMG): 35k-40k
Sigur Ros (Geffen): 30k

The week just ended, which limped out of the Labor Day weekend, has traditionally been avoided by the majors, was nearly barren, leaving the Rolling Stones all to themselves with A Bigger Bang (Virgin). Consequently, business was off by 9.5% compared to last week (9.5 million units vs. 10.5 million a week ago), and (brace yourselves) down 16.4% from the comparable week of 2004, during which 11.4 million pieces were sold. That puts year-to-date business on the downside by 8.7% on 385 million vs. 421million in '04.