Sunday December 22th, 2002


New CD's this past week:

- Tyrese - I wanna go there
-  Next - The next episode


Short news stories this week:

Luther Vandross' music is inspiring different hip-hop songs

Luther Vandross is currently working on his next album-a title for which
has not been confirmed. This will mark the second Luther release on his
new label home J Records. According to MTV News, Vandross will work with
his longtime friend and collaborator Nat Adderley, and the album will
feature a guest appearance from Beyonce Knowles. Vandross' influence can
be heard in various hip-hop songs-such as Will Smith's latest single,
"1,000 Kisses," which incorporates Vandross' "Never Too Much." Jay-Z
also recorded a song called, "Excuse Me Miss," for his latest album,
"The Blueprint 2"; Jay-Z's track was inspired by Luther's recent single,
"Take You Out." Jaheim is also a huge Luther Vandross fan. He recently
told MTV News that, if there was no Luther, there'd be no Jaheim.
Luther has also recorded a song with Beyonce, which is set to appear on
Knowles' forthcoming solo album, as well as on the soundtrack for her
second movie, "The Fighting Temptations."


Ashanti Planning To Write All The Songs On Her Second Album

Singer-songwriter Ashanti will head back into the studio in January to
work on the follow-up to her self-titled, Murder Inc./Def Soul debut
Ashanti penned all of the songs on her debut set, and she explained to
LAUNCH why she intends to also write all of the songs on her second
album: "I plan on keeping that pen goin', boy, because that's definitely
where the money is, you know? And I just find that, in my opinion for
me, you know, you feel it more when it's your own lyrics when you're on
stage, and you just have that passion because you know exactly what you
were thinking about when you wrote that record and why, so it just
brings everything together."
Ashanti currently has six nominations for the 30th annual American Music
Awards. She is up for favorite album pop/rock, favorite new artist
pop/rock, favorite female artist hip-hop/R&B, favorite album
hip-hop/R&B, and favorite new artist hip-hop/R&B. Ashanti is also in the
running this year's American Music Awards "Fans' Choice Award," for
which she is facing off against Creed, the Dixie Chicks, Eminem, Enrique
Iglesias, and Nelly.

R. Kelly's 'Chocolate Factory' Pushed Back Two Weeks

Embattled R&B singer R. Kelly will release his next album, Chocolate
Factory, on January 28 instead of its original January 14 release date.
Kelly was originally scheduled to release a new collection titled Love
Land in November, but his legal woes and bootlegging of that set
prompted him to scrap it and record a new album.
The first single from Chocolate Factory is "Ignition," which is a
classic R. Kelly love song. Some fans suspected that the singer might
shy away from racier topics because of his pending legal battle, but
Kelly appears undeterred.
Kelly is currently facing 21 counts of child pornography in Illinois.
The charges stem from a videotape that was delivered to Chicago
Sun-Times that allegedly depicts the singer having sex with a minor. His
next scheduled court date is December 20.
Other songs on Chocolate Factory include the previously released "The
World's Greatest" and "Heaven I Need A Hug." The set will also include a
duet with Ron Isley titled "Showdown," as well as a remix of "Ignition."

3LW To Unveil New Member On 'TRL'

In less than a month, 3LW will be whole again. Adrienne Bailon and Kiely
Williams say they're done holding auditions to replace Naturi Naughton.
"The turnout has been incredible," Bailon gushed as she prepared for
last weekend's Los Angeles tryouts. "We've done New York City auditions,
Atlanta auditions. It was incredible, just the fact they came to share
their talent with us. It's really informal. A lot of people are probably
expecting it to be real stiff.
"Kiely is the secretary for the day," she continued. "She takes down
names and addresses. She has an office set up when you come in. I play
DJ. You have an option of songs you can sing. You can sing your own
songs or a 3LW song - 'Neva Get Enuf,' 'I Do (Wanna Get Close to You)'
and a song on our second album called 'Ain't No Maybe.' "
Girls who pass the singing portion of the tryout process move on to the
dance test, but the 3LW women said that aside from being talented,
candidates also have to jell with the group.
"A lot of it has to do with the personality," Bailon explained. "That
was really important to us that we sit down and vibe with the person.
... It's a wonderful thing because it's a new beginning for 3LW, but at
the same time we're taking a risk. Bringing this new person in, you
gotta get to know them.
"With all that stuff that happened in the past, you think you know
somebody, so we were a little shaky on that," she said, referring to
infighting that preceded Naughton's exit. "It took a whole lot to come
out and say [we wanted a new member] after everything had happened."
Shortly after Naughton left, the remaining two singers went to Canada
for a couple of months to shoot a Disney television movie, "which kind
of shielded us from everything that was going on in the States with the
rumors and everything," Bailon said. "When we came back, we were like
'What do we do now? We have to go back to the main thing, which is our
music.' "
The new member of 3LW will be named in a few weeks on "TRL." After the
group is back at full strength, Bailon and Williams want to take time
out to bond with their new addition before touring. From there, a new
album will be put in the works.
"After the touring and during the touring, we'll be working on our new
stuff," Bailon said. "We'll be going into the studio, working with her,
vibing together for what the new album is gonna sound like. That's
really important. We want her vibe to be on the album as well. I want
her vibe to be strong, add something to the group - not just be a third
member, it's important that we're all equal in this group."
Next year fans will see Bailon and Williams paired up with two more new
group members when they star in "Cheetah Girls."
"It's about four girls who are friends and have dreams to be in a famous
singing group," Bailon said. "They wanna get a record deal. ... One girl
is gassed up, and she's played by Raven-Symone. It's about how they
remained friends even though they went through trials and tribulation.
We all became good friends. It was a good experience for us. A big ol'
slumber party every night."
"It's fun," agreed Williams, who was on her way to do voiceovers for the
film. "It's a lot of after-work. When you're doing a video, you do it
and it's over. Movies, you have to go and do voiceovers and re-sing
everything. It's been an experience for us."

Earth, Wind & Fire's 'Live From Rio' Delayed

Earth, Wind & Fire has pushed back its Live From Rio album to a January
14 release. The collection, which was originally due out December 10,
was recorded during the band's visit to Brazil in June of 1986.
Live In Rio captures a show from the last time the group's original
lineup performed together. "Rock That," "Fantasy," "Magic Mind," "Got To
Get You Into My Life," "Boogie Wonderland," and "September" are just a
few of the songs EWF plays on the set.
With such an impressive catalog of material already to their credit,
LAUNCH asked EWF bassist Verdine White for the group's plans for the
future. "Our goal now is just to continue to make great music. You know,
for us it's a no-brainer--you know, our life has been pretty fluid and
our career is fluid. We're not really under pressure to be anything
other than who we are, you know, so for us it's just been really a
wonderful journey. We're never concerned about the outcome as much as we
are the journey, and that's the most important process, you know, is the

Craig David: Older, Wiser, And 'Slicker Than Your Average'

U.K.-based singer-songwriter Craig David is back with Slicker Than Your
Average, the follow-up to his 2001 Wildstar/Atlantic debut album, Born
To Do It, which has sold more than 7 million copies worldwide to date.
The new album's first single, "What's Your Flava?", was co-written by
David and produced by the remix team Marshall and Trell, also known as
the Ignorants.
David told LAUNCH that the new album, much like its opening single,
really pushes the envelope. "I've tried to just do things that maybe I
was nervous of really going and taking it there on the first album,"
David explained, adding, "I also feel that I've just got more composure
this time--I've matured along the way, so I could focus my energy into
the right channels instead of running around like a headless chicken."
David's growth as an artist is evident in his enchanting duet with Sting
on the track "Rise And Fall."
David also told LAUNCH that he feels that his voice has improved a great
deal since the release of his debut album. "I think I've definitely
improved vocally, just from extensive touring across the whole of the
U.K. and Europe, and then across the whole of America," he said. "I
think that definitely is kind of upped on this album."
David said that he's tentatively planning to kick off a new world tour
in support of Slicker Than Your Average by April. "It should be a
buzz--I'm looking forward to doing the live stuff. I think the band is
happy because they've been doing the old stuff for, like, two years now,
so they're, like, 'Man, give us some new stuff!'"
Much like in past concert tours, David plans to keep his live show
focused on the music and not on an elaborate stage production. "I've
always been about the music," David said. He added, "I think this time
around I want to prove even more so that I haven't changed and not try
to become some kind of flamboyant artist that jumps on stage and tries
to put the production to the front and the music to the back. So, I just
want the band to be even tighter--to have more control so that when I
say, 'Stop,' I'm talking on a pin drop--the band is just tight. Those
are the things that for me make the difference."
Slicker Than Your Average was a very personal project for David, as he
co-wrote all 12 tracks on the set. He elaborated, "I think this album is
a lot more me being me, and kind of writing songs and having lyrical
content of things that I really wanted to say, as opposed to me still
talking about me still creeping around with the girl next door. That was
relevant to me at the time, and it still is a memory of mine, but I
think it's important to show that you're still growing and maturing."


Solange Knowles Not Feeling The Pressure Of Being Beyonce's Younger

Solange Knowles, the younger sister of Destiny's Child lead singer
Beyonce Knowles, will release her debut album, Solo Star, on January 21.
The first single from the set is "Feelin' You."
Solo Star features the production of the Neptunes, Timbaland, Beyonce
Knowles, Kandi Burruss, Linda Perry, and Rockwilder, with guest
appearances by N.O.R.E., Lil' Romeo, B2K, Da Brat, and Murphy Lee of the
St. Lunatics.
Solange Knowles is currently on tour with Destiny's Child. She is also
scheduled to appear on Soul Train on January 4.
Solange recently told LAUNCH how she feels about people inevitably
comparing her to her more famous sister. "I really, really, honestly
don't care what anyone thinks about me. I've been that way for the last
six years, and I think therefore that has helped me as an artist--as her
younger sister--because I really don't care. I don't have any
expectations of this album. I'm putting it out, I love the album, and
I've been getting a great response from my first single, 'Feelin' You,'
and I think that we are two totally different types of artists. Our
imaging is a lot different and I'm just going out there and doing my
thing, so I don't feel any pressure."

Mariah Is Happy That "Fans Are Feelin' It"

Mariah Carey is currently promoting her new album, "Charmbracelet"-which
sold more than 250,000 copies in its first week. The album showcases
Mariah singing more ballads and concentrating more on her vocal
abilities. Last week, Mariah told the BET Radio Network that she is
pleased with the response she's getting-although she doesn't totally
agree with the way some might perceive it. "People have said it's like a
more delicate approach to making records," said Mariah. "It is and it
isn't, because there's a lot of other emotions that are, like, really
strong and powerful that I maybe haven't dealt with previously."
However, the R&B/pop diva said that-as long as the fans like it-she's
very enthused about the way things are going. Mariah concluded by
saying, (quote) "I'm just really excited. I'm excited that the fans are
feeling it-know what I'm saying?"

Whitney Houston's Sales Are Struggling

Despite Whitney Houston's "Primetime" interview with Diane Sawyer
drawing such high ratings, the same cannot be said about the
anticipation to buy her new album. Apparently, sales estimates for
Houston's CD, "Just Whitney," is making quite a few record executives
nervous. Fox News quotes a BMG insider who said that Arista Records has
"discounted the CD to avoid a total disaster." The source stated that
"Just Whitney" was deep discounted at many retailers last week; it was
reportedly priced at $8.98 instead of the usual $13.99-which Arista
Records hopes will push the CD past 200,000 units. On a brighter note,
Whitney Houston's single, "One Of Those Days," is #5 on the "Radio &
Records" Urban AC chart.


News 2002

News 2001