The Chart

Black On Top

In a week that included retail's Black Friday, it was appropriate that Jay-Z's ''Black Album'' made an unexpected return to the top, with 260,000 new units to cushion his retirement fund. In a chart battle of the bellies, Gwen Stefani's first sales week brushed past Britney's second, as No Doubt's ''The Singles 1992-2003'' logged a doubt-dispelling 252,000 copies to take No. 2. Other newcomers included Nelly, selling 144,000 of a remix CD to bow at No. 12, and Missy Elliott, whose ''This Is Not a Test!'' was just a hop, skip, and a jumpsuit behind.

POP ALBUMS WEEKS LAST ON WEEK CHART

1 4 JAY-Z The Black Album, Roc-A-Fella 3 2 -- NO DOUBT The Singles 1992-2003, Interscope 1 3 1 BRITNEY SPEARS In the Zone, Jive 2 4 18 HILARY DUFF Metamorphosis, Buena Vista 14 5 8 VARIOUS ARTISTS NOW That's What I Call...Vol. 14, Columbia 4 6 9 TOBY KEITH Shock'n Y'all, DreamWorks 4 7 6 JOSH GROBAN Closer, Reprise 3 8 2 G-UNIT Beg For Mercy, Interscope 3 9 19 KORN Take a Look in the Mirror, Immortal/Epic 2 10 10 OUTKAST Speakerboxxx/The Love Below, Arista 10 11 3 BLINK-182 blink-182, Geffen 2 12 -- NELLY Da Derrty Versions: The Reinvention, Fo' Reel/Universal 1 13 -- MISSY ELLIOTT This Is Not a Test!, Elektra 1 14 15 CLAY AIKEN Measure of a Man, 19/RCA 7 15 12 SHERYL CROW The Very Best of Sheryl Crow, A&M/Interscope 4

(c)2003 VNU BUSINESS MEDIA, INC./NIELSEN SOUNDSCAN. USED WITH PERMISSION FROM BILLBOARD, DEC. 13, 2003.

IN STORES DECEMBER 16

JOE And Then... (Jive) And then, two years after 2001's Better Days, which spawned the top 20 domestic-bliss paean ''Let's Stay Home Tonight,'' the R&B crooner called on R. Kelly and Dallas Austin to help produce his fourth album.

RAEKWON The Lex Diamond Story (Ice Water Inc./Universal) The Wu-Tang Clan alum's third solo disc boasts skits and lots of guests, including Method Man, Ghostface Killah, and Fat Joe.

VARIOUS ARTISTS Cold Mountain soundtrack (Columbia/Sony Soundtrax) Oh, brother. It's a whole new roots-music soundtrack. But besides country folks like Alison Krauss, these porch songs feature a rocker: White Stripe Jack White.

NAS Lost Tapes 2 (Columbia) This collection of unreleased tracks and remixes dates back to the early '90s, so you can wax Nas-talgic.

IN THE STUDIO

NEW FOUND GLORY, in L.A., with Neal Avron, who helmed their last two discs. The pop-punk band's rep says the new album, due next spring, will be melodic but will also present a ''heavier, more powerful version of NFG.''

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