Ja Rule lifted on fans’ ‘Love’

Enya moves up, Keys hangs on fourth

Music fans had nothing but love for rapper Ja Rule last week, piling into record stores and vaulting his new LP to the top of the latest album rankings.

“Pain Is Love,” Rule’s most recent Island/Def Jam offering, moved nearly 361,000 copies, according to data compiled by SoundScan, pushing “Blueprint” by fellow hip-hop luminary and IDJ labelmate Jay-Z into second place.

“Pain” extends IDJ’s unparalleled dominance of the album charts’ upper echelons over the past few months. This week, the Universal Music Group imprint scored three of the top five releases: “Pain,” “Blueprint” and “Silver Side Up” by alt-rock act Nickelback, whose label Roadrunner has a joint venture with IDJ.

But sneaking their way inside the Def Jam fortress at the top were two female artists with phenomenal staying power.

“Day Without Rain” (Warner Bros.) from soothing new-age mainstay Enya moved up another spot to No. 3, following a stratospheric rebound in the last few weeks. “Songs In A Minor” by J Records juggernaut Alicia Keys slipped two places but managed to hang on in fourth, despite the hip-hop onslaught.

Garbage, the rock quartet fronted by Scottish alterna-diva Shirley Manson, had a respectable opening week with its third record “Beautiful Garbage” on Interscope (yet another score for UMG) at 13, as did Elton John with his Universal Records release “Songs From the West Coast” at 15.

Further down the line at No. 29 was fellow piano man Billy Joel with his greatest-hits compilation “Essential Billy Joel” (Columbia). Album includes such Joel standards as “New York State of Mind,” which the songwriter reprised for last month’s WTC disaster-relief TV telethon.

Country crooner Gary Allen landed at No. 39 with “Alright Guy” (Universal/MCA Nashville), while jam-band Oysterhead, which features Primus’ Les Claypool, Phish’s Trey Anastasio and Stewart Copeland from the Police, hit 48 with “Grand Pecking Order” (Elektra).

Ja Rule’s reign could be unusually brief, since next week he faces stiff competition from redneck rapper Bubba Sparxxx. His new LP “Dark Days, Bright Nights” (Interscope) is infused with the infectious beats of hot producer Timbaland, who also fathered Missy Elliott’s ubiquitous hit “Get Ur Freak On.”

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