Sunday August 31th, 2003
New CD's this past week:
- Mary J. Blige - Love & life
- Vaneese Thomas - A woman's love
Music news stories this week:
Alicia Keys Mulls Over First Single
"The question is, are you ready?"
Alicia Keys, looking into a video
camera, asked of her fans last month in New York. After taking photos
for her new album both in front of and behind a piano, the singer was
bubbling over with enthusiasm for her project, due November 18.
"My excitement level is through the roof right now," she gushed. "I came
off the road, I had an amazing time on the road. I've been able to sit
in the studio and get everything out of me as I've been hearing it and
I'm excited about the new stuff. We're about to do it again."
A few weeks ago, Keys was very secretive about a collaboration on her
album with two MCs who have never rhymed on a track together. Since the
song has recently hit mixtapes and the radio, we now know the track is
called "Streets of N.Y." and that the rappers whose identity she didn't
want to reveal are Nas and Rakim (see "Alicia Keys Locks In Nas, Rakim
For New Album"). According to her manager Jeff Robinson, the cat wasn't
supposed to be let out of the bag so soon.
"Somebody leaked that record out," Robinson said earlier this week. "Now
that it's out, we're supporting it, but it's not her single.
"It was a collective wish list," he continued of the dream pairing of
Rakim and Nas. "We were like, 'It would be dope if we could get Nas to
come back on this record.' And at the time we were talking to Rakim's
people. Then we were like, 'What if we put both of them together? The
God and God's Son.' That's never been done before. If you gonna go New
York, these are the two guys to do a New York anthem. I feel Rakim took
it back. He got a burst of energy from 1989 or whatever."
On the record, Rakim gives his poetic words
of wisdom, while Nas kicks
his futuristic raps, comparing himself to Saddam Hussein "looking at his
dead children's burnt remains."
"He [recorded his lyrics] way before Saddam's sons were killed,"
Robinson explained. "That's what made it ill. He was predicting."
As for what will be the first single, scheduled to drop at the end of
September, Robinson said that's not such an easy decision.
"This new album is chock-full of singles," he said. "The choices [for a
first single] are really hard. She's still creating songs. We're going
to wait until she gets these last couple of mixes in then we'll all sit
down and decide the single."
"Personally for me I don't want to be stuck in one box," Keys added
about her LP, which still hasn't been named. "I wanna always spread my
wings. That's how the songs on the album are. Every song on the album is
a growth in some way. Even if it's something as simple as vocally. I
feel my vocal growth is definitely something I've experienced. Seeing
different places broadened my mind, seeing how people are so much alike.
There's growth in my keys, my experimentation on sounds."
Besides Nas and Rakim, Keys also worked
with Stokley Williams from Mint
Condition, Dwayne Wiggins, Easy Mo Bee and Kanye West. She laid her
tracks in the Big Apple.
"This is my home, this my place, this is where I live," Keys said about
her hometown. "This is where I record. Everything I do, I stay planted
in my home base. I got a New York state of mind, always."
Keys won't be staying planted in NYC for too much longer. She's
scheduled to start performing in various cities at the beginning of
There may also be some movie projects on the horizon for the
Grammy-winning songstress. Robinson said that Keys turned down several
scripts in the past year because she wanted to concentrate on making her
album before venturing off into Tinseltown. Now that she's just about
done recording, she's a little more open to Hollywood.
Robinson has a few side projects coming up
as well. There's a showcase
for new and established singers he and his MBK Entertainment company put
on in New York every month called R&B Live, where such luminaries as
Keys, Macy Gray, Stephanie Mills, Vivian Green, Carl Thomas, Jermaine
Dupri and Janet Jackson have either been onstage or in the audience.
Robinson's also putting out a couple of new acts soon: an all-male group
of 19-year-olds called Focus, which he likens to Mint Condition, and a
male singer named Shawn Caine, whom he compares to Sam Cooke.
Bobby Brown Gets Hit With 14 Day Jail Sentence
R&B singer Bobby Brown was sentenced to
14 days in jail for violating
the terms of his probation on Wednesday (August 27) by Dekalb County
State Court Judge Wayne Purdom in Georgia, according AP.
Brown, who has been in custody since last Friday (August 22), was
credited for the five days he has already spent in jail and will have to
serve nine more days. The singer told the judge, "I apologize for being
back in your court and taking your time. I have no reason, I am a human
Brown was also ordered to undergo another drug assessment and not to
drive. The singer will additionally be under house arrest for 60 days
after he is released from prison.
Brown was arrested after he failed to check in with his probation
officer. The singer's lawyers maintain that he was bed-ridden and unable
to make the appointment. There was also an issue of Brown's court
ordered community service. The singer and his attorneys told the judge
that Brown completed 80 hours of community service in California but the
judge only credited Brown with serving 40 hours since he was suppose to
perform the community service in Georgia.
Brown's wife, Whitney Houston, was present during the hearing. The
singer told reporters that she was pleased with the judge's decision and
that she told her husband to stay strong.
In January, Brown was sentenced to eight days in jail, two years of
probation, 240 hours of community service, and fined $2,600 after
pleading guilty to a 1996 drunk driving charge.
New Aaliyah Single Released
Fans of deceased R&B singer and
actress, Aaliyah, honored the fallen
star on Monday (August 25) with a prayer service and candlelight vigil
at Ferncliff cemetery in Westchester county, New York. The event marked
the second anniversary of the singer's tragic death in an airplane
The singer's label, Blackground Records, released a new single, "Don't
Know What To Tell Ya," to coincide with the anniversary. The song is the
latest single from Aaliyah's posthumous release, I Care 4 U.
Some of the proceeds from the sale of I Care 4 U will benefit the
Aaliyah Memorial Fund, which makes contributions to the Revlon UCLA
Women Cancer Research Program and the Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in
Harlem. Fans who wish to contribute to the fund can mail their donations
to: Aaliyah Memorial Fund, c/o Entertainment Industry Foundation, 11132
Ventura Boulevard, Suite 401, Studio City, California 91604, Attn:
Aaliyah, seven other passengers, and the pilot were killed when a small
Cessna 402-B crashed during take-off on August 25, 2001 in the Bahamas.
The plane was transporting the star and her video crew back to Florida
after shooting scenes for her latest video.
Following the crash, investigators suggested that the plane may have
been overloaded and reports were released by the Bahamian government
stating that the pilot, Luis Morales, may have had cocaine and alcohol
in his system.
Sat-R-Day And Coolio Working Together On New Album
Dutch RnB group Sat-R-Day from Amsterdam is
working on their new album
with rapper American Coolio. Both are signed to the Zyx label and
earlier this year went into the studio to write and record the song
"Don't Go". The song is about the influence of the entertainment industy
on a relationship.
Sat-R-Day liked working together so much they will be writing and
recording more songs with Coolio. "The chemistry with Coolio is just
perfect. He loves making fun, but is very serious when music is
concerned. Just like us. Coolio's experience and our passion gave this
'collabo' an explosive edge.Listen to the song and you'll hear it".
The power of this song was soon picked up by the clubs in Germany, in
April "Don't go" entered the German Black Charts as highest new entry
and as nr 24 in the German DJ Black Music Playlist Top 40.
The next single will be the catchy hip hop track "The Rules" in
september. "Don't Go" is available now at Zyx's website
Both tracks will appear on the long awaited second album by Sat-R-Day
entitled "That's how we're livin'" which is planned for an autumn
Floetry, Heather Headley, Missy Elliott Are Top Ladies Of Soul
Hip-hop soul duo Floetry was the top winner
at the ninth annual Soul
Train Lady Of Soul Awards presentation, held Saturday, August 23rd at
the Pasadena Civic Center in Pasadena, California. The show featured
nine awards, two special awards, and several live performances, and was
broadcast live via syndication.
Floetry took home three awards. The British-born, Philadelphia-based duo
of Natalie Stewart and Marsha Ambrosius was named best R&B/Soul or rap
new artist, group, band or duo; their single "Say Yes" earned them best
R&B/Soul single by a group, band or duo; and the CD Floetic was named
best R&B/Soul album of the year by a group, band, or duo. Backstage, the
duo was thrilled with their winAnother big winner was singer Heather
Headley, who won as best new solo artist of the year and whose CD This
Is Who I Am was named R&B/Soul solo album of the year. Headley also
served as one of the co-hosts of the broadcast, alongside singer Tyrese
and comedians Arsenio Hall and Ayesha Tyler. Headley said that getting
awards for the thing she does as easily as breathing is amazing to her:
"I don't call it work. It's something that I ... I get up in the
morning, I shower, and I sing. It's how I talk to God, I communicate
with him in music. So for somebody to give an award to me for doing
that, I'm like, OK, you know. But I'm very very honored."
Virginia-based singer, rapper, songwriter and producer Missy Elliot also
earned two Lady Of Soul trophies, with "Work It" being named R&B/soul
song of the year and the imaginative video clip for the tune earning the
music video of the year prize. However, work kept Elliot from picking up
her awards in person.
Other winners included Dorinda Clark-Cole whose self-titled CD was named
gospel album of the year, and Erykah Badu, whose single "Love Of My
Life" featuring mate Common was the best R&B/Soul solo single.
Badu also received a special honor as the 2003 Aretha Franklin
Entertainer of the Year. Badu said the award served as encouragement to
her future endeavors: "It was wonderful. Made me feel really good. Put a
battery in my back to go out and continue to do what I do and entertain,
you know, create, share the things, the most God gave me and it's also
therapy for me, so it feels really good."
The evening second special award went to actress Vivica A. Fox, who
received the Lady Of Soul Lena Horne Lifetime Achievement Award.
112 Is Ready To Get Hot And Wet With New Album
R&B quartet 112 isenjoying the success
of its current single "Na Na Na
Na," featuring Supercat, which appears on the upcoming album Hot & Wet.
It comes out on September 23rd. The group's first release in two years,
Hot & Wet will be their first product since having signed with label Def
Group member Q told us how excited 112 is about the new album: "One,
knowing that we have a new family, and two, we haven't been out in a
year-and-a-half. Like we ready, we ready -- like we've been on the
injured-reserve list for a year-and-a-half. We finally been cleared to
play. So, we're about to go out and hit like 70 a night."
Hot & Wet was produced by group member Daron Jones, Sean "P. Diddy"
Combs, and Stevie J., and features a guest appearance by Joe Budden.
"Na Na Na Na" currently sits at Number 23 on Radio and Records Urban
Hot & Wet is the follow-up to their 2001 album Part III, which featured
the hits "Peaches & Cream" and "Dance With Me".
George Benson's New CD Release Pushed Back
The highly-anticipated new studio CD by
George Benson has been pushed back
to a February 10th release. The CD will be titled Irreplaceable.
Originally, the album had been expected in October.
As previously reported, Benson's new CD is described as more urban and
contemporary than previous efforts. The first single from the project,
which is due late next month, will feature R&B vocalist Joe and is titled
"Cell Phone." The tune tells the touching tale from the September 11th
Benson's most recent studio CD was the highly successful 2000's Absolute
Benson. Benson, an eight-time Grammy winner, says that he owes the
direction of that project to his producer, telling LAUNCH: ["Well I think
my producer Tommy LiPuma, who is also the director of the record company,
was correct. He said, 'George, now's the time, let's get the guitar back
out, fire it up, and do something on the jazzy side.' And we had the guest
of ... We were fortunate enough to get Joe Sample, who really added some
special things and put us in the mood for an album that I think is pretty
A greatest hits collection, George Benson: The Greatest Hits Of All, was
released on July 8th