Mary J. Blige's ''Love & Life'' easily took control of the Billboard album chart during its first week in stores, with no more drama than the R&B hitmaker usually sees. Unlike other artists, who've seen recent chart-topping albums sell in much smaller numbers than their previous releases, Blige's first-week sales for the four albums she's released since 1997 have been consistent, and all have debuted at No. 1 or No. 2 on the chart. ''Love'' entered the chart at the top spot on sales of 286,000, according to SoundScan, beating another new entry, 'tween queen Hilary Duff's ''Metamorphosis,'' which finished second with sales of 204,000.
Last week's chart-topper, ''The Neptunes Present . . . Clones,'' settled for third place and moved another 115,000 units. Close behind was Alan Jackson's ''Greatest Hits Vol. 2'' (114,000 copies). Debuting at No. 5 was ''Drankin' Patnaz'' by Youngbloodz, who sold 85,000 coasters.
Performances at the MTV Video Music Awards helped boost sales of Beyoncé's ''Dangerously in Love'' (No. 6) and Coldplay's ''A Rush of Blood to the Head'' (No. 10). Also finishing in the top 10 were Evanescence's ''Fallen'' (No. 7), the ''Bad Boys II'' soundtrack (No. 8), and Chingy's ''Jackpot'' (No. 9). Just missing out on top-10 debuts were Nappy Roots' ''Wooden Leather'' (No. 12), and Warren Zevon's likely swan song, ''The Wind'' (No. 16).