Sunday December 2nd 2001
Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles and R&B Album Chart December 8
New CD's this week:
The closer it gets to Christmas, the quiter
it seems to get on the new releases front.
This week t only noteworthy album is the soundtrack to "Ali", a bio-pic of boxer
Muhammad Ali starring Will Smith. It contains two new cuts from R. Kelly plus tunes
from Alicia Keys, Bilal, Angie Stone, Al Green, Aretha Franklin. The single "The
World's Greatest" by R. Kelly is also out this week.
Short news stories this week:
Anita Baker leaves Atlantic Records
Atlantic Records continues to trim its
staff and its artist roster, with Rod Stewart,
Anita Baker, and Sinead O'Connor being the latest to exit the label.
Baker had yet to release an Atlantic project. Her last studio release was 1994's Elektra
set "Rhythm of Love.". The artist moves come amidst an ongoing restructuring at
Atlantic Records, where the company has just laid off approximately 20 staffers from
its New York and Los Angeles offices.
According to a statement from the Atlantic Group, "the staff changes that we have
made in recent days have been minimal. We are always reviewing and fine-tuning
the way we do business, in response to a wide variety of factors, but above all to
ensure that we remain at the top of our game, working both as creatively and as
efficiently as possible in the ever-changing music marketplace." A source says "less
than" 20 employees were let go.
Chaka's House Goes Offline
After having been online since 1997,
Chaka's House, the very popular unofficial
website dedicated to Chaka Khan, has been shut down. Webmaster and major
Chaka Khan fan Anders Ringman has announced his decision online. Citing the fact
that there simply was not enough time for him to properly maintain the site, which
featured more than 150 HTML pages, nearly 500 images, song lyrics, biographies
and discographies, Ringman stated, "Chaka Khan is still the world's best singer, my
all-time favorite artist and she will forever be in my heart. But I don't feel that it's
fair to you, the fans, to maintain the site at half-speed. I still love doing websites,
and who knows - maybe Chaka's House will return in another shape someday?" He
added that he's not making any promises. Originally called "Epiphany" and
established by webmaster Mark Coston II with help from dozens of dedicated fans
including Troy T. Saunders and the late Donna "Dee" Ahjuder, the site went
offline on November 20.
Michael Jackson Gets Digital Makeover For TV
Makeup has certainly come a long way. One
of our reporters who spotted Michael
Jackson at his September reunion show in New York City noted that the "King Of
Pop" looked noticeably different in person than he did on camera when CBS aired
the concert special this month. And now we know why: Special effects wizards
digitally altered Jackson's image for the TV show. According to stories in both
People and Entertainment Weekly, Jackson's famously pale skin was digitally
darkened, stubble was "removed" from his face, and his brow was mopped of sweat,
all through the magic of digital technology.
Jackson apparently wasn't the only one to get the painstaking and expensive digital
makeover. The magazines also report that Whitney Houston, whose skeletal figure
raised more than a few eyebrows at the concert, was altered to appear heavier during
her broadcast performance. For example, her collarbones were masked, making it
look as if a natural amount of skin and fat softened her skinny form.
Fugees Affiliate John Forte Sentenced To 14 Years In Prison
Fugees affiliate John Forte was sentenced
to 14 years in federal prison earlier this
month following his August conviction on the charge of conspiracy to distribute
cocaine. The former rapper and producer was originally arrested in a drug sting
operation at Newark International Airport in July 2000. According to prosecutors,
drug couriers were hired to transport drugs from Texas to New York, and authorities
had taped conversations of Forte arranging to pick up the cocaine and referring to
it as "ice cream."
The rapper was arrested when two women handed him a suitcase containing 31 pounds
of cocaine. Forte was charged with possession of cocaine and conspiracy to distribute
cocaine. Forte was bailed out by a family friend, singer-songwriter Carly Simon. Bail
had been set at $625,000, and Simon posted $250,000 of it. Forte sang on Simon's
latest album, The Bedroom Tapes, and accompanied her on her last tour. Forte
maintained that he thought he was picking up some money for a friend.
Forte released his debut set, Poly Sci, on Refugee Camp Records in 1998. The rapper
was also featured on Wyclef Jean's hit "We Trying To Stay Alive" and the Fugees
Mya Joins Cast Of 'Chicago'
Mya has been added to the cast of Chicago,
an upcoming feature film based on the
Broadway musical of the same name. The multitalented singer, who includes tap-
dancing among her skills, landed the vampy role of Mona and is in Toronto this
week to rehearse her dance numbers in the film with co-stars Renee Zellweger
and Catherine Zeta-Jones, according to New York's Daily News (November 27).
Mya was recently featured on the hit cover version of the song "Lady Marmalade."
She also made a bit appearance in the 1999 film In Too Deep, and is currently part
of the cast of The Blues, an in-development television miniseries.
Tyrese, Kenny Lattimore & James Ingram Perform 'We Three Kings'
Tyrese, Kenny Latimore, and James Ingram
perform a soulful rendition of "We
Three Kings" for The Fourth Annual Soul Train Christmas Starfest which will
air between December 8 and December 23 (check local listings for broadcast date
and time). The program, hosted by Smokey Robinson and Yolanda Adams, will
also feature performances from Kelly Price and Mary Mary, as well as appearances
from Brian McKnight and Destiny's Child.
Adams, who also co-hosted last year's Starfest, said that Tyrese, Latimore, and
Ingram's "We Three Kings" is a highlight of the show: "Kenny Latimore, who is
my honey. Tyrese and James Ingram, they sang. Okay, first of all, those fellas just
be singing, all right. That song was so incredible. Well, they did 'We Three Kings,'
and of course all of the women were like, 'Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.' They were falling out.
But they sang that song. Oh my goodness."
Adams will release Believe, her second studio album for Elektra Entertainment,
on December 4. Her song, "Open My Heart," produced by Jimmy Jam and Terry
Lewis, received a Soul Train Award for best R&B/soul single. "Never Give Up,"
another Jam and Lewis effort, is the first single from Believe.
Maxwell Inspired Gerald Levert To Write 'Got Love'
Gerald Levert's album, Gerald's World,
which reached Number 18 on Billboard's
Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart last week, includes a song inspired by Maxwell.
On "Got Love," produced by Levert, the Cleveland native employs a more subtle
singing style over the soft thumps of a kick drum and romantic violins.
Levert said that Maxwell's "Fortunate," produced by R. Kelly, prompted him to
create "Got Love." "I never deny anything that I take away," Levert said. "'Fortunate'
was one of my favorite songs, and I wanted to sing a song like that, and create a
song with that vibe. That's where I got the whole vibe from for 'Got Love.' It was
"Made To Love Ya," the first song released from "Gerald's World", recently slipped
to Number 48 on Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks chart.
The O'Jays' Long Road To Releasing 'For The Love'
Releasing the O'Jays' latest album
"For The Love" became a labor of love for the
R&B trio. Originally completed in 1999, group co-founders Eddie Levert and
Walter Williams shopped For The Love around to countless record labels. And
when Clive Davis left Arista Records, they were eager to present the legendary
record executive with the album for his consideration. But when Davis passed on
"For The Love", Levert's mission became not just to release the album, but to prove
Davis wrong, as he tells says: "I'm just hoping this doggone record happens, because,
you know, Clive was really the first guy that gave us our break in the business over at
CBS. I felt like he could have the vision and could see it. He listened to it, said he took
it home with him and spent the weekend with it. He says, 'It's not edgy enough.' But
we felt like with his ear and his expertise he could have brought it to the forefront, so
I'm hoping this record does really well so I could say, 'Clive, can you hear it now?'"
"For The Love" was eventually released via MCA Records on September 25.
Owner Of Plane That Killed Aaliyah And Eight Others Under Investigation
Gilbert Chacon--owner of Blackhawk
International Airways, which owned the Cessna
twin-engine plane that crashed and killed singer Aaliyah and eight others shortly after
takeoff in the Bahamas on August 25--is under investigation by federal authorities. In
September, Chacon filed a complaint against the deceased pilot, Luis Morales III, with
the Federal Aviation Administration. At the time, Chacon's attorney Michael Moulis
told the FAA, "Morales inappropriately logged hundreds of hours as pilot in command,
when it was questionable whether he was even a pilot on the flights." Moulis pointed
to the fact that Morales's logbook went from 580 hours of flying time on one page to
1,580 hours on the next page.
Federal authorities are now investigating Chacon. In a 26-page affidavit submitted to
receive a search warrant, authorities maintain that Chacon has withheld maintenance
logs and records for the plane. The affidavit also suggests that Chacon may have lied
about his connection with the plane. Immediately following the crash, Chacon
maintained that he leased the plane to Morales, but according to the affidavit Morales
told his father and neighbor that Chacon would pay him cash on a per-flight basis.
Authorities searched Chacon's home and office for documents, maintenance logs,
information about the origin and scheduling of the flight, and any documentation
that would explain the relationship between Chacon and the deceased pilot, Morales,
but found very little.
Moulis shared that he thought the federal investigation was a "fishing expedition,"
and that the FAA was only coming after Chacon because they wanted to find someone
to criminally charge for the crash. Moulis told AP, "We have cooperated fully. The
requests for documents have been vague at best." Moulis does expect Chacon to be
indicted on obstruction of justice charges.
Aaliyah: More than a Woman
Virgin records are to release Aaliyah's
'More Than A Woman' on January 7th 2002.
The video, directed by David Meyers, was shot before her death and is an apt
swansong for the R'n'B star. It has a stunning sci-fi backdrop and is set in a
futuristic hangar/disco with technicolour lights.
The original version of the song is one of the stand out tracks on her self-titled
album which has sold 2.5 million copies worldwide. The single will also feature two
remixes. The first is by Bump n Flex and is a down tempo, slightly dubby, garage
Mary J. Blige is among the artists set to
perform at the December 2 My VH1 Music
Awards, joining Destiny's Child, Lenny Kravitz and others. Music fans can go online
to suggest categories and to vote on their favorite artists.
Meanwhile, Destiny's Child and Alicia Keys
are among the artists scheduled to perform
on the 2001 Billboard Awards to air on the Fox network on December 4. They join R
Kelly, Joe, Jennifer Lopez and others.
G.C. Cameron, ex-vocalist for The Spinners,
most notably on "It's A Shame," and
cousin to the late ex-Spinner Philippe Wynne, is back on the music scene with a new
CD named ":Shadows Of Soul." The singer has been back with his old group of late,
filling in for John Edwards, who has been on medical hiatus.