Nelly certainly put the chill on the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

In a heated battle for chart supremacy, the St. Louis rapper held on to the top spot for a third straight week, despite a career-high opening for the Chili Peppers with By the Way. The Los Angeles-based alt-rock funksters bowed at number two for the week ended Sunday, selling 282,000 copies.

The group's previous best came from Californication, which debuted with sales of 188,000 in July 1999, opening at number three behind the Backstreet Boys and Ricky Martin.

The Chili Peppers' major sales gain could not, however, best Nellyville, which held remained number one with 340,000 copies. Nelly--who is reportedly in negotiations with Paramount Network Television to star in his own sitcom--has moved nearly 1.5 million copies in three weeks, thanks to the hit single, "Hot in Herre."

The Eminem Show, the only album this year to sell faster than Nellyville, checked in at three with 231,000 copies, according to SoundScan numbers.

The week's second-highest debut belonged to the Counting Crows, whose Hard Candy crunched in with 138,000 copies to take the number-five slot. The group, which did a few dates with the Who earlier this month, opened at number eight with their previous effort, 1999's This Desert Life.

The Crows just barely bested newcomer Styles, whose debut disc, A Gangster and a Gentleman, opened at number six with 135,000 copies of his debut. Styles also performs with the hip-hop trio the Mountain Brothers.

Familiar faces made up the rest of the Top 10: Avril Lavigne at number four with Let Go, Irv Gotti Presents...The Inc. at seven, Josh Groban's eponymous debut at eight, Ashanti's self-titled bow at nine and Aerosmith's O Yeah! Ultimate Aerosmith Hits slipping six to the 10 spot.

Just missing the Top 10 was rapper E-40, whose Grit and Grind bowed at 13 with 52,000 copies. The Bay Area rapper continues to grow his West Coast cult following--Grit and Grind is his highest debut despite his inability to attract much attention in mainstream media.

Other notable debuts include Onyx at 46 with Bacdafucup II and Dolly Parton at 58 with Halos & Horns.

Elsewhere, Latin popster Marc Anthony's Mended jumped 18 spots to 31 following his TV special last week.

To recap, the Top 10 albums for the week ended July 14 were as follows:

1. Nellyville, Nelly
2. By the Way, Red Hot Chili Peppers
3. The Eminem Show, Eminem
4. Let Go, Avril Lavigne
5. Hard Candy, Counting Crows
6. A Gangster and a Gentleman, Styles
7. Irv Gotti Presents...The Inc., various
8. Josh Groban, Josh Groban
9. Ashanti, Ashanti
10. O Yeah! Ultimate Aerosmith Hits, Aerosmith

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