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Mary J. Blige Bested by Backstreet


Singer Mary J. Blige's move from rap to soul is apparently a big success, as her new guest-star-studded album, Mary, came within 4,000 units of knocking the entrenched Backstreet Boys out of the No. 1 position.
She captured the No. 2 slot with sales of 239,000, just a hair behind the Boys in the band, who sold another 243,000 copies of Millennium. However, their days at No. 1 may be numbered as new releases from rappers Puff Daddy and Noreaga and popster Christina Aguilera are expected to open strong next week.
Blige started as a Yonkers-style rap act, and has now evolved into a hip-hop flavored soul singer, la Lauryn Hill, who guests on Mary. The album's pedigree doesn't end there: Elton John, Eric Clapton, Aretha Franklin, Babyface and Nas also make cameos. As Blige remarks about the sessions, "All I saw was love there. No problems, no nonsense in the studio. It was, 'You coming right or you not comin' in here.' "
The album itself has a strong '70s soul feel, and any resonance with Stevie Wonder is intentional. "You know the feeling you get listening to Stevie's Songs in the Key of Life? That's the feeling I needed to hear from this album. And I definitely think we got it."
Gangsta rap duo Mobb Deep shot their way to the No. 3 slot with the debut of Murda Muzik, which sold 195,000 units for the week ended August 22, according to industry sources.
All this deflated Limp Bizkit a bit, as Significant Other was relegated to the No. 4 spot with sales of 166,000, the lowest it's been since in two months. Britney Spear's ...Baby One More Time follows with 133,000 and the current hits collection Now That's What I Call Music moved 127,000 copies.
Ricky Martin was No. 7, with the Runaway Bride soundtrack still in the race at No. 8. Kid Rock's Devil Without a Cause, shaping up to be one of the summer's biggest underground hits, landed at No. 9.
And in something of a surprise, Santana remains in the Top 10 with its comeback album Supernatural selling 117,000 copies. To underline just what a remarkable feat this is for a veteran act these days, the Moody Blues' Strange Times is considered a big win because it bowed in the Top 100, at No. 93. John Cougar Mellencamp, who has had more hits than either of those acts in the last two decades, opened at No. 99 with Rough Harvest.
Elsewhere in the charts, the In Too Deep soundtrack broke the surface last week with a No. 28 debut, selling 43,000 units, while the Source Music Awards 1999 album won the prize for No. 53.

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