Sunday August 26th 2001


This week the album many of you had been waiting was finally released, the
third studio album by Maxwell. Also this week "Fly" from Dante Thomas who is
enjoying his first hit with "Miss California" and after 6 six years a new Christopher
Williams album.
However the week ended on a sad note, I'm sure by now the news of the death has
reached you. If not, read on.
In the coming week be sure to look out for for new albums by Mary J. Blige, Kool &
the gang and Brian McKnight.


Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles and R&B Album Chart Sept 1


Maxwell - Now

On "Now," the message is clear: Maxwell wants people to know that he's
only human. Overflowing with emotional and musical growth, "Now"
showcases Maxwell's talent for soulful expression of vulnerability and
strength without being too sentimental.
The opening track, the funky "Temporary Nite," is a standout, as are
such ballads as "Lifetime," "Was My Girl," and "Symptom Unknown," which
invite listeners to feel Maxwell's pain, as well as his desires. The
beautiful "Fortunate," the No. 1 Billboard R&B song of 1999, is a hidden
bonus cut. A cover of Kate Bush's "This Woman's Work" is one of
Maxwell's finest moments -- he makes the song his own with a delivery
that's both passionate and subtle.
This album leaves little doubt that when it comes to expressing the joys
and heartbreak of life, few R&B singers do it as gracefully as

Dante Thomas - Fly

Newcomer Dante Thomas blends pop sensibilities with a soulful edge on his fine
debut, Fly. Discovered by the Fugees' Pras, the 23-year-old singer/ songwriter
tackles the requisite issues of love and relationships with maturity. "California,"
the set's lead single, is a Latin-flavored pop track that is already gaining attention
on top 40 stations worldwide. On "Money Can't Buy," Thomas seamlessly merges
elements of rock and funk, resulting in a track that fondly recalls classic Hall &
Oates. Thomas can also be a soul maestro for the TRL set. Witness "Good Bye,"
which shows his appreciation for those that came before-particularly Donnie
Hathaway and Stevie Wonder.
Currently opening for 'N Sync, Thomas is well on his way to taking flight with Fly.


Other news this week :

Singer Aaliyah, 7 others die in plane crash

Eight people, including R&B singer and actress Aaliyah, were killed Saturday
evening when a small plane scheduled to fly to Opa-locka Airport crashed shortly
after takeoff from Abaco Island in the Bahamas.
The Cessna 402, registered to Skystream Inc. of Pembroke Pines, had just taken off
from Marsh Harbour Airport on Abaco when it crashed at 6:50 p.m., said Federal
Aviation Administration spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen.
Six people died at the crash site, and one died at the government clinic in Marsh
Harbour. Two were flown to Nassau, where one died from burns. The one survivor
was identified by police as Anthony Dodd of Los Angeles. Dodd was being treated
at Princess Margaret Hospital in Nassau.
Bahamian police Superintendent Basil Rahming confirmed late Saturday that Aaliyah,
on Abaco to shoot a music video, was among those killed.
Aaliyah Haughton, 22, was born in Brooklyn, but grew up in Detroit. She had her
first top-10 single at age 15. Working with such R&B and hop-hop powerhouse
producers as R.Kelly and Missy Elliott, she was known for her tomboy style.
Having established herself as a singer, she branched out into film with her starring
role in Romeo Must Die. She was executive producer of the soundtrack for that
movie, which featured her hit Try Again.
Her most recent album, titled Aaliyah, was released in July. Her film career was
also taking off: She was cast in the forthcoming Matrix sequel.
The two-engine plane apparently lost its right engine, said Kathy Ralph, a dispatcher
for the island's fire department. The Cessna burst into flames after plummeting into
a stretch of swampy brush, making it difficult for rescue workers to get to the plane,
she said. Ralph's husband, a firefighter, had to slog through knee-high water to get to
the scene. "They had trouble getting to the plane,'' said Ralph, who also runs an
island newspaper with her husband.
Witnesses described a gruesome scene at the small airport.``They were pretty
badly burned, black all over their bodies.You couldn't tell who they were. They
were carried on stretchers into the hospital,'' said George Culmer, 40, who works
near the airport. Culmer said dozens of people gathered at the airport after the
crash.``This is a small island, so when something like this happens, everybody
wants to know what happened,'' he said.

Brandy, Rodney Jerkins Hope To Repeat Chemistry

Producer completes 10 tracks with singer, promises 'a whole new style.
The 24-year-old said Brandy has allowed him to cultivate his new sound on her
album. Jerkins said they've been trying to recreate the winning formula that helped
her most recent CD "Never Say Never" go multiplatinum. "Our mission is to do
what we did before," explained Jerkins, "by making songs people can listen to
melody-wise but get into musically. We're gonna do it again. We have great
After having completed 10 tracks with the singer, Jerkins said that Brandy, who
has also been in the studio with Babyface and the is about a month away from
completing her album."We got this one song called 'I Thought,' it's gonna be her
anthem. It's a flip off of 'The Boy Is Mine.' It's hot because it represents that new
style I was talking about. We got some sick ballads like 'When You Touch Me' and
'Like This.' "It shows another side of Brandy's voice," he continued about the
untitled project. "Her voice is at a whole other level now. It's gonna shock a lot of
Brandy's album is scheduled to drop November 20. The first single hasn't been
selected yet.


Babyface Brings Snoop Duet, Pimped-Out Party Grooves On New LP

Neptunes, Buckwild add new-millennium cool to Face 2 Face. You've seen him
in the video for his Neptunes-produced "There She Goes." That new Babyface is
some sort of a character, isn't he? Obviously, he can no longer be called a pretty
boy at 42, and his low-cut beard shields some of that prettiness.Instead, with his
woolly afro replacing that half-flattop-half-process hairdo and his new rock-star
threads (witness the pearly-white tank top),Face - or Kenneth Edmonds, as he
signs his tax returns - has transformed his image with new-millennium cool.
On September 11, when his new LP, Face 2 Face,drops, fans will get to hear a little
of his vintage sounds as well as music to match his image facelift -chock-full-
o' curses and Ebonics. "After all the sh-- he put you through, why wouldn't you
want to leave?" he asks on "Lover and a Friend," co-produced by Babyface and
Buckwild of Black Rob's "Whoa!" fame. "Girl, I got mad love for you, why can't
you be with me?" he continues in a high-pitched voice reminiscent of Curtis
Mayfield. Meanwhile, Buckwild provides a funky soundscape filled with horns
and bottom-heavy bass, similar to a '70s midtempo
soul groove."What If" is one of those big, heartbroken-lover-man ballads we're
more accustomed to hearing from Babyface. Here, he wishes he could turn back
the hands of time after bumping into his ex-girlfriend. "What if we were wrong
about each other?" he pines. "What if that was s'posed to be my house that you
go home to every day? How can you be sure that things are better?" The Neptunes'
second production offering, "Stressed Out," is another party anthem, with the
duo's Pharrell Williams adding his pimpish, high-pitched voice in the mix and
helping Face on the hook: "It will happen/
If it's meant to be/ So don't stress out/ Things could work out, baby."
Babyface turns O.G. to give knowledge to a hotheaded youngster on "Baby's
Mama," featuring Snoop Dogg and produced by the Megahertz (Three The ... 's
"Bad Boy for Life").
Later in the album, the multimedia renaissance man continues his schooling,
giving a na´ve girlfriend advice on the jazzy "How Can U Be Down." Face gets
caught up in an attraction that's not quite fatal, but unhealthy nonetheless, on the
track, as his lover's best friend falls for him. "I told the girl no, no, no, but she still
came knockin' at my door," he sings. "I told her to go, go home, but that made her
even want me more."

Update: Boyz II Men Signs With Arista

Veteran R&B act Boyz II Men has left Universal and signed a new five-album deal
with Arista Records, where it will reteam with label head Antonio "L.A." Reid,
who worked as a songwriter and producer with the group on its hugely successful
albums Cooleyhighharmony" and "II."
Founding member Nathan Morris said the group's past associations with Reid
were a big factor in the decision to sign with Arista. "After being released by
Universal, we pretty much had our choice to go anywhere we wanted to go," Morris
said. "Reid is someone who can look at what we want to do from a musical aspect
as an artist and not just as a record company exec. He has been an artist before and
he understands artist situations, artist mentality. So that was a major sticking point
on why we went with Arista."
Reid echoed Morris' sentiments in a statement, saying,"signing Boyz II Men is a
dream come true."
Member Shawn Stockman added that the group will return to the studio in mid-
September and hopes to have an album ready for release by mid-2002. "We hope
that with this new situation, we're able to go in and create something that's incredible -
something that the whole world will fall in love with," he said.
Boyz II Men's commercial success in the '90s was rivaled by few outfits, as the group
racked up U.S. sales of more than 20 million copies. The act's 1991 debut
"Cooleyhighharmony" sold nearly 7 million copies in the U.S., according to
SoundScan, and remained on the chart for more than two years. It spawned the record-
breaking single
"End of the Road," which stayed at No. 1 on The Billboard Hot 100 for 13 weeks,
surpassing the longevity record set by Elvis Presley's "Heartbreak Hotel."
The follow-up album, "II," debuted at No. 1 on The Billboard 200 and included the No.
1 singles "I'll Make Love to You" and "On Bended Knee." It has sold 8.5 million units
to date. The group's fifth set, "Nathan Michael Shawn Wanya," debuted last year at No.
4 on The Billboard 200, but only spent three weeks on the chart. It has sold just
686,000 copies thus far.


Eric Benet To Perform New Songs At Atlanta Show

Eric Benet will perform on the opening night of the Montreaux Atlanta Music
Festival which runs August 24 through September 3 and features 70 performances
at more than 20 venues.
Benet is planning to perform at least two new songs from Better And Better, his
forthcoming album which is scheduled to be released during the first quarter of
2002. During a recent interview with LAUNCH, Benet explained the songs: "There's
a couple songs off the new album that I'm gonna do. One is called 'I Want To Be
Loved.' It's actually a song very much about my wife, and the feelings that I had like
right before I proposed. And the other song is called 'R&B' as in the genre of R&B.
The two songs that I tried performing a few times and just got an extremely positive
feeling from the audience. I really get off on performing them, so I'm sure I'll do
those in Atlanta."

Lauryn Hill Announces Pregnancy

Fugees bandmate Lauryn Hill is expecting her third child. The singer is presently
four months along, according to sources. Hill and Rohan Marley, son of the late
Bob Marley, already have two children and reside in New Jersey. Hill is expected
to release the follow-up to her Grammy Award-winning album "The Miseducation
Of Lauryn Hill" early next year.

Time for Bev to get up

Beverley Knight, who sang alongside Jamiroquai at the Ministry festival at
Knebworth, will have her own new material out in the autumn. Her new single called
'Get Up' will be out in October. Her follow-up LP to 'Prodigal Sista', which features
Musiq Soulchild, will be released in February 2002. "It's a really song driven album.
People who like from D'Angelo to Travis hopefully will find something that they like
on the album."


Brian McKnight On The Playful Genesis Of 'Love Of My Life'

Singer-songwriter Brian McKnight is set to release his new album, "Superhero",
on August 28. The star will also be launching a national tour in support of the set.
The first single from "Superhero", "Love Of My Life," finds McKnight singing in
an atypical falsetto, and the singer recently explained that he was only fooling
around when he came up with "Love Of My Life": "Actually, I was just playing
around. Honestly, I never thought in my wildest imagination that this song would
actually make the record. The very first version of this song was just me playing
some keyboard strings, but I sang it...I was just playing around. I was, like, 'What
would Marvin do?' What would Prince do?' But wait--then they said, 'We gonna do
this as the single.' I was, like, 'You're crazy. No one will ever think that that's me.'"


Beyonce's little sis wants in on the action

The "Osmosis Jones" soundtrack, released Tuesday (August 7), features the song
"Solo Star" by Solange Knowles, the younger sister of Beyonce Knowles of
Destiny's Child. Solange has a recording deal with her father's Music World
Music Records, a subsidiary of Columbia and Sony Music.
Though Solange is rumored to be working on a solo album, also titled "Solo Star,"
to be released by January 2002, a representative for Columbia Records says that she
is not listed on the label's album release schedule.
Solange has also recorded the theme song for the Disney series "The Proud Family,"
is expected to appear on Destiny's Child's upcoming Christmas album, and was
featured in Lil' Bow Wow's "Puppy Love" video.


News 2001