Sunday June 30th, 2002
New CD's this week:
- Sheba Pott-Wright - Love Fest: If you
like southern soul then you will like this one
- Her Sanity - Xclusive: new girl trio on Motown
- Steve Harvey - Sign of things to come: with some well known names like Dave Hollister,
Rahsaan Patterson, Carl Thomas, Angie Stone and some new ones.
- Truth Hurts - Truthfully speaking: On Dr.Dre's Aftermath Label Guest:Rakim on the
Short news stories this week:
"Monica" Shows R&B Star Coming Of Age
R&B star Monica will release her
self-titled third album Aug. 20 via J Records. The set is
said to be a blend of contemporary R&B, pop, and hip-hop, and features the production
skills of such well-known talents as Rodney Jerkins, Jermaine Dupri, Dallas Austin, and
Soulshock & Karlin."As we agonized over the right album title, I said why not just
'Monica'? I've never had a self-titled album and since I co-wrote the entire thing, what
better timing for one?," she says in a statement. "Also, this is truly the first time in my
career that the songs reflect both my direct and indirectpersonal experiences."
The album is led by the single "All Eyez on Me," which features a sample of Michael
Jackson's "P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)." Monica describes the track, which debuts
this week at No. 57 on Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks chart as "a party
record. The world has had plenty of tragedy to deal with recently so I wanted to do
something that had a 'feel good' flavor to it."Although she's introducing fans to her latest
via a lighthearted and upbeat number, the majority of the set "is quite serious," she notes.
"I think more adults will be comfortable with my music. The truth is, I've grown up."
Among the other cuts on the album is "U Should've Known" which she says is" about a
relationship where everything is positive until something negative happens and the guy
gets incarcerated. Yes, it is a situation I have experienced."
Another track based on real life is "I Wrote This Song," which Monica says is about her
first love who committed suicide. "Some days, when I think about what happened, I
cry. Writing the song was like a healing for me. I knew if I could write about that, I could
write about anything."
Among the other songs on the album are "Hurts The Most," "U Deserve," "Girl, Please,"
"Ain't Gonna Cry No More," "Breaks My Heart," "Down 4 Whateva," and "Searchin.'"
"It's like my 'coming of age' record," she says, "and with this album, I want to establish
the kind of fans who will be with me for the next ten years and more."
"Monica" is the follow-up to the 1998 Arista set "The Boy Is Mine." That album debuted
at No. 2 on Billboard's Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart and No. 8 on The Billboard
200. It spawned several hits, including the No. 1 Hot 100 title track duet with Brandy,
and has sold 1.97 million copies in the U.S., according to Nielsen SoundScan.
R. Kelly Pleads Not Guilty To Child-Pornography Charges
Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter R.
Kelly entered a plea of not guilty to 21
child-pornography charges during his arraignment at the Cook County Courthouse on
Wednesday morning (June 26). Kelly didn't speak to reporters as he exited the Chicago
courthouse afterwards, but he did acknowledge the fans that showed up to offer their
support by wearing T-shirts that read "R. Kelly We Luv You."
Earlier this month Kelly was indicted on 21 child-pornography charges for allegedly
producing and disseminating child pornography and for soliciting a minor to participate
in sex acts on tape or film. The singer was originally arrested in Polk County, Florida,
and freed on $750,000 bail before he turned himself in to Chicago authorities to be
formally booked shortly thereafter.
The charges stem from a videotape that authorities claim shows the singer having sex
with an underage girl. Kelly was indicted on June 5 following an investigation that
included interviews with more than 50 witnesses. The FBI's forensic experts conducted a
full examination of the tape and concluded that it was authentic.
Kelly has denied that he is the man shown on the videotape in police possession. In
addition, the parents of the minor allegedly depicted on the tape deny that it is their
daughter on the tape.
At Kelly's arraignment, one of his attorneys, Sam Adams, questioned the tape's
authenticity. Adams told AP, "I haven't seen the tape but I know the FBI has been wrong
100 times in the last year."
If the singer is found guilty of the Class 1 felony, he could receive a prison term of up to
15 years, and a fine of up to $100,000.
India.Arie Shocked To Win BET Award
The second annual BET Awards upheld its
black star power banner slogan Tuesday (June
25) when the event aired live from the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood. In addition to being
hosted by comedians Steve Harvey and Cedric "The Entertainer," the BET Awards
brought out some of the biggest names in entertainment, including honorees Earth, Wind
& Fire, Muhammad Ali, and Will Smith, as well as Ashanti, Ja Rule, Janet Jackson, and
P. Diddy, among others.
Earth, Wind & Fire received the lifetime achievement award, and Ali took home the
humanitarian award. Other honorees include Smith (best actor), Halle Berry (best
actress), B2K (viewer's choice award), Usher (best male R&B), and India.Arie (best
Arie, who did not win any awards at this year's Grammys despite being nominated for
seven, said she was shocked to get a BET Award: "It's funny. I was caught way off guard
because I know that the things that I talk about in my music and the gentleness of the
production and everything is not what the popular thing is about. So to be honored by
BET, especially, was very surprising and very satisfying. And it means more to me this
year than it would have last year 'cause now I understand what awards are and what
they're not. And what acceptance is and which acceptance matters and which acceptance
doesn't. So it's a journey. I'm learning the lesson here."] R&B singer Sisqo has also
learned a lesson over the last year, according to Usher. When commenting on his feelings
about being named best male R&B artist, Usher recalled the boastful proclamation Sisqo
made last year: "Um...I feel good. Last year Sisqo said he was the best R&B artist of all
time. I guess not. "
Tributes to Earth, Wind & Fire and Ali provided the night's performance highlights. For
Earth, Wind & Fire, Chaka Khan performed "Fantasy," Gerald Levert and Tweet sang
"Can't Hide Love," and the band played "Let's Groove Tonight."
In paying respect to Ali, Angie Stone sang her song "Brotha." Alicia Keys played Marvin
Gaye's "Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)." Jill Scott offered a rendition of
Curtis Mayfield's "People Get Ready," and Yolanda Adams performed Sly & the Family
Stone's "Stand." Additionally, the event also featured live shows from Usher, B2K,
Ashanti, Ja Rule, and Mary J. Blige.
The three-hour broadcast flowed smoothly, but the attendees felt a bit of tension during a
disruption involving Tha Row CEO Suge Knight. Sources speculate that there was an
altercation between Knight and former Death Row artist Snoop Dogg. However,
representatives for both Knight and Snoop Dogg did not provide comments.
After the taping, Harvey explained what happened: "Now as far as the incident that
happened, I just pulled Suge to the stage, kissed him, and asked him for respect, and he
said that he would never disrespect what we doing. And he went back, and it was
squashed, and that was it. Now, how it got going? I don't know. But I got relationship
with some of these cats, so I'm able to talk to them. And you know they ain't, it ain't all
the time what you think it is. Sometimes you just got to speak to people, you know."
New Edition Ready To Hit The Road
The members of New Edition are hard at work
in a California studio preparing for their
first tour together in the new millennium. New Edition, which today comprises Johnny
Gill, Ralph Tresvant, Ricky Bell, Ronnie DeVoe, and Michael Bivins, will co-headline
11 shows alongside En Vogue.
LAUNCH caught up with Ricky Bell and asked the Bell Biv DeVoe (BBD) member for
his thoughts about the road trek: "The tour is hot. We're selling out in all cities across the
U.S. We doing all the old cuts--gonna do some BBD, some Johnny Gill, some Ralph
Tresvant, mix it all in with New Edition for an hour-and-a-half. It's gonna be banging."
Bobby Brown Released From Hospital
R&B singer Bobby Brown was released from Mary Washington Hospital in
Fredericksburg, Virginia, on Friday (June 21). The singer had been hospitalized on
Wednesday (June 19) after running a fever while traveling from Atlanta to New Jersey on
a tour bus with his wife, Whitney Houston. The couple was in Atlanta working on
Houston's forthcoming album.
Brown's publicist Nancy Seltzer told AP that Brown was given intravenous antibiotics at
the hospital and that he is currently taking antibiotics orally. However, like earlier,
Seltzer would not expound on any specifics relative to the illness except to say that the
singer suffered from an infection.
Cameo's Blackmon Appreciates All That Fans Have Done For His Group
With the release of Cameo's Anthology
collection last week (June 18. Lead singer Larry
Blackmon for his opinion on how the group has been able remain current for more than
Blackmon says it's all thanks to the fans: "Throughout the eras of our success, you know,
from the very beginning, we wanted to feel proud. And Cameo's gotten to a place where
it's really out of our hands--it belongs to the people, and they're responsible for Cameo's
longevity as much as we are in making the music. They've made us just that much more
interesting. There's a true love affair between us, not just our audience, but any audience.
We humble ourselves every night that we perform to provide the best we have to offer artistically."
Michael Jackson In 'Men In Black 2'
One of the most-talked about aspects of the
upcoming film Men In Black 2 are two scenes
featuring the "King Of Pop" himself, Michael Jackson. Although rumors of his
involvement were well-publicized, Jackson's onscreen appearance at a screening of the
film in New York City last Friday (June 21) was met with a stunned sigh from the
audience, followed by guffaws and applause so loud all of his dialogue became
Star Will Smith explained how Jackson got in the film in the first place: "Oh, Michael
called after the first film. He said he saw the first film in Paris and he said, 'Look, Will, I
don't care what happens. If you are making a part two of this film, I am in this film.'
Michael, he's a real movie buff, so he said when he saw this (the first Men In Black), it
was the most creative thing he'd ever seen. He said he just couldn't compare it to any
other film. He said he was absolutely a part of it (the sequel). He didn't care what we said
(about his role)."
Smith explains that the sight of Jackson--playing himself as an alien, decked out in that
trademark Men In Black suit and consulting MIB boss Zed (Rip Torn) via a monitor--is a
credit to Jackson's sense of humor: "You know, when he comes on the screen, people are
really happy. It's as if Michael is saying to the world, 'OK, all right. I'm human just like
everyone else. I appreciate a good joke just like everyone else does,' but the thing that I
loved so much is he kept wanting to play it serious. You know, he was, like, 'You know,
I'm a Man In Black, I just want it to be really serious.' I think people are going to be
really shocked and really surprised, and enjoy seeing Michael in this film and in this light."