Sunday June 9th, 2002
New CD's this week:
- Donell Jones - Life goes on: his 3rd album and this one could very well be his best.
Short news stories this week:
Michael Jackson Says Record Companies Are Bad
Michael Jackson has joined the ever-growing
list of artists who have spoken out about the
poor treatment they have received at the hands of record labels. Jackson recently enlisted
Reverend Al Sharpton and former O.J. Simpson lawyer Johnnie Cochran in an effort to
get the singer out of his long-term deal with Sony Music. In a written statement, Jackson
argued, "Record companies have to start treating their artists with respect, honor, and
Some speculation about the cause of Jackson's ire towards Sony rises from the
disappointing sales of his recently released album, Invincible. The set took more than
three years to complete at a reported price tag of $30 million, and has only sold a little
more than 2 million copies in the U.S. Sony has said it will let Jackson pursue another
deal with a different label, but that the singer still owes the organization production and
publicity fees associated with Invincible.
Although Sharpton and Cochran were brought in to represent Jackson, the duo argues that
the issue of artists rights goes beyond just the "King of Pop." During a press conference
on the matter, Sharpton told reporters, "Economic servitude, no matter how comfortable
the slave, is still slavery." Added Cochran, "This is a problem the record companies
should be ashamed of. Artists have made billions for them."
Tweet Pleased With Positive Response From Public
New R&B singer Tweet says she's happy
that music fans have embraced her music. After
reaching Number One on the R&B charts with her debut single "Oops (Oh My)," her
follow-up single, "Call Me," reached Number 24 last week, and earned her an
endorsement deal with Verizon Wireless.
The Missy Elliott protege, who is touring with Mary J. Blige, will serve as a celebrity
fashion critic Thursday (June 6) on the post-show for the MTV Movie Awards. Tweet
recently told us that she was pleased with the reaction she received from concertgoers
when she toured with Craig David earlier this year: "It just feels good, because you know
a lot of these shows, they don't know who I am. And they might know the song that
I...You know, I sing the 'All Of Y'all,' the Tim(baland) song, I sing a piece of that. But
other than that, it's just been great for them to just sit there and be like, 'Yeah, I like that.'
I've been totally blessed. God has really allowed me to be myself, and be blessed to be
able to do that."
Tweet's debut album, Southern Hummingbird, was released in April on Elliott's Elektra
Entertainment imprint Gold Mind Inc.
R. Kelly Arrested In Child Porn Case Wednesday, Released On Bail Thusrsday
Chart-topping R&B star R. Kelly was
arrested in Florida Wednesday, hours after he was
indicted on 21 counts of child pornography stemming from a videotape that allegedly
shows him having sex with an underage girl, officials said.
A spokeswoman for the Polk County Sheriff's Office said R. Kelly was taken into
custody there, but would not elaborate. Allan Mayer, an attorney for the Grammy-
winning singer, also confirmed he is in custody.
An Illinois grand jury charged the 33-year-old singer -- whose full name is Robert Kelly
- with 21 counts of child pornography based on the videotape, which police said was
recorded sometime between November 1997 and February. Investigators said the girl
depicted in the video was born in September 1984, which would make her 17 now.
Chicago Police Superintendent Terry Hillard said FBI evidence technicians have
examined the videotape and consider it authentic. "It's unfortunate to see Mr. Kelly's
talents go to waste, but it becomes a tragedy when behavior damages the community,"
If convicted, the Grammy-winning singer faces a prison term of up to 15 years and a fine
of up to $100,000. His lawyer, Ed Genson, said he would disprove the child pornography
charges. "The charge is that there's a young lady under the age of 18 on that tape and
there isn't," Genson told The Associated Press. "That's simply the stance that I'm taking.
We're going to court and we'll disprove that she was underage." The girl's family
members also have denied that she is featured on the video, Genson said.
Kelly said he would be proven innocent. "Even though I don't believe any of these
charges are warranted, I'm grateful that I will have a chance to establish the truth about
me in a court of law. I have complete faith in our system of justice, and I'm confident
that when all the facts come out, people will see that I'm no criminal," he said in a
statement released through attorney, Edward Genson. The Chicago Sun-Times received
the videotape earlier this year. The newspaper passed the tape along to the sex crimes unit
of the Chicago Police Department, which investigated. Illinois law prohibits producing or
disseminating child pornography or soliciting a minor to participate in sex acts on tape or
film. Investigators interviewed more than 50 witnesses who went before the grand jury
and identified the singer as the person in the video, authorities said. The FBI crime lab in
Quantico, Virginia, authenticated the tape, officials said. "We would not have proceeded
if we weren't confident with the identification of the people on the tape," said Cook
County State's Attorney Richard Devine. Devine said the sex acts on the video occurred
in Kelly's home in Chicago. "The indictments hopefully will send a message to sexual
predators ... [that] taking advantage of minors will not be tolerated and there are severe
penalties," he said. Bootleg copies of the video are for sale on the street across the
country, selling for $10 for VHS and $15 for DVD. Hillard warned that anyone who has
bought or is selling copies of the tape is in possession of child pornography.
"It would be my advice to you to dispose of these tapes," he said. Authorities would not
comment on the identity of the girl in the videotape. The Chicago Sun-Times said she
was the then-14-year-old daughter of an associate of R. Kelly's, but added that the girl
and her parents have denied the allegations.
Kelly is known for inspirational hits such as "I Believe I Can Fly," but also raunchy
ones like "Feelin' On Yo Booty." He has also worked as a producer with Celine Dion,
Michael and Janet Jackson, and the Isley Brothers. He has previously settled lawsuits
brought by two women who accused him of having sex with them when they were
minors. Documents have also shown that Kelly married the late singer Aaliyah, his
former protege, when she was just 15. The marriage was later annulled. A third lawsuit
was filed recently by a Chicago woman who accused Kelly of impregnating her when she
was a teen-ager and forcing her to have an abortion.
Kelly is married to a former dancer from his touring troupe. The couple have a newborn
son and two young daughters.
R. Kelly posted a $750,000 bond Thursday
(June 6) and was released from jail.
Attorney Ed Genson said Kelly would return to his home in Chicago once he regained his
composure, saw his wife and children, changed clothes, and got some rest.
Richard Devine, state attorney for Chicago's Cook County, explained why child
pornography charges were filed as opposed to statutory rape charges. "We brought the
charges we thought appropriate at this stage," Devine said.
Kelly has also faced three other sexually related lawsuits. He has settled two of the suits,
and intends to fight the third, filed on May 24.
Roberta Flack Creates New Label To Help New Young Talent
Roberta Flack's rendition of Alicia Keys's
"A Woman's Worth," which she performs on
the 2002 Essence Awards Thursday (June 6), hints that the cherished singer has a thing
for youth. The singer, known for songs such as "Killing Me Softly" and "The First Time I
Ever Saw Your Face," plans to help new young artists get into the music business via a
Flack recently discussed her new venture: "I am working on my new label, which is
called R.A.S., which stands for Real Artists Symposium, and that's because I'm going to
give all of these young people who have come to me throughout my entire career and
given me a chance to share their talents. I'm trying o find some place to put that. So they
won't be exploited, abused, and not appreciated."
Flack added that her experiences as a performer, teacher, educator, author, songwriter,
and producer have prepared her for her role as record label executive. "I have some good
stuff to offer," Flack added. "I just want to share it with some younger artists who said to
me, 'How do you do that?' I think I'm a good candidate because a lot of the younger
artists who are already successful appreciate what I've done, and if that is the case, I think
I'm going to got be swamped with beautiful young people who want to give me a change
to help them get out there. And I'm ready."
Mya, Whitney, Solange And Deborah Work With IMX
What do Mya, Whitney Houston, Solange
Knowles and Deborah Cox have in common?
Besides all working on new albums, they have also all worked with IMX. The IMX trio
actually contributed two tracks to Solange's debut album; "One of the songs is called
'Dance with You,' " says IMX's Batman. "It's a duet with her and B2K. It's a party record.
It's real upbeat. Her voice makes her music, she has a powerful voice. And she's an
excellent writer." But working with Whitney is their biggest work; "We were honored,"
Batman said. "She's a legend, she's an icon. It's like a blessing for us to work with her.
We definitely wanted to give her some different stuff. I like the stuff Rodney [Jerkins]
did with her on the last album, but we definitely would like to give her a bit of our style
but take it to where Whitney hasn't gone before. All bangin' over your head. Our style, we
can do ballads, club hits, anything that music wants us to do."
Another R. Kelly Sex Suit Emerges
Montina "Tina" Woods joined the
list of women who have filed suits against R&B
singer-songwriter/producer R. Kelly. Woods filed a civil suit against Kelly May 24 in
Chicago's Cook County Circuit Court, a spokesperson for the courts confirmed.
The circuit court spokesperson was unable to confirm Woods's charges at press time, but
according to published reports, the suit accuses Kelly of taping himself and Woods
having sex. Woods claims that she is one of the women featured having sex with Kelly in
the alleged R. Kelly sex tape, R. Kelly Triple-X.
Woods seeks $50,000 in damages, according to one report.
Woods's counsel argues that she "had a right to prevent her personal image from being
recorded for the purpose of his personal gratification and possible dissemination to the
public," according to an excerpt of the suit, printed in the Chicago Sun-Times.
The suit makes Woods the fourth woman to sue Kelly over a sexually related matter.
R. Kelly's attorney, Allan Meyer, did not respond to LAUNCH by press time.
R. Kelly has maintained his innocence regarding allegations that he had a sexual
relationship with minors in recent interviews with BET and MTV.