Sunday March 16th, 2003


New CD's this past week:

- Blackstreet - Level II: the long awaited new album from Blackstreet


Short news stories this week:

Toni Braxton Leaves Arista For Blackground Records

Six-time Grammy winner Toni Braxton has parted ways with Arista Records.
The singer is set to join the Blackground Records roster, which includes
the late Aaliyah, Tank, and Timbaland & Magoo. Blackground is
distributed by Universal (after leaving Virgin Records in 2002).
Blackground founder Barry Hankerson told Billboard how great an
opportunity the Braxton signing is, "Toni is one of the most distinctive
and powerful voices to come out in the last 25-30 years. This signing is
an incredible opportunity to literally continue the development process.
With most artists, you look to put out one or two albums. With Toni, you
know she will have a career for decades to come."
Plans are in motion to release a new Braxton album in September, with a
single due by July. The singer's last album, 2002's More Than A Woman,
was a commercial disappointment, selling less than 400,000 copies.
Braxton's self-titled 1993 debut and the 1996 follow-up, Secrets, each
sold more than 8 million copies. The singer's 2000 release, The Heat,
was certified double-platinum while Braxton's 2001 holiday set,
Snowflakes, went gold.

D'Angelo Settles Civil Suit, Pays $500 Fine

Grammy-winning singer D'Angelo (Michael Archer) reached an out-of-court
settlement with a woman who said he allegedly cursed and spit on her
during an altercation at a Virginia gas station. The incident reportedly
occurred after the singer had cut the woman off with his SUV in
November. The terms of the settlement were not disclosed.
D'Angelo also pleaded no contest to obstruction of justice charges on
Tuesday (March 11th) and was fined $500. The charge also stemmed from
the November gas-station arrest. When police officers went to D'
Angelo's home to investigate the woman's allegations, they reportedly
had to use pepper spray to subdue the singer when he resisted arrest.
D'Angelo was originally charged with several misdemeanors, including
aggressive driving, assault, curse and abuse, disorderly conduct,
resisting arrest, and obstruction of justice.

Santana, EWF, Chaka Khan, George Clinton, Bootsy Collins, Tapped For
Hendrix Tribute

A new Jimi Hendrix R&B tribute, Power Of Soul, will be released later
this year on MCA Records and feature contributions from Carlos Santana ,
Earth, Wind & Fire, Chaka Khan, George Clinton, Bootsy Collins, and
Seal, among others. Proceeds from the album will benefit the United
Negro College Fund.
Funk masters Clinton and Collins handle the title track, while Earth,
Wind & Fire take on "Voodoo Chile." Khan covers "Little Wing" with Kid
Rock guitarist Kenny Olson. Former Hendrix bassist Billy Cox will appear
on a version of "Machine Gun," while Band Of Gypsys drummer Buddy Miles
will play on "Manic Depression."
Contemporary soul artist Musiq has already recorded "Are You
Experienced," and the late John Lee Hooker will also be featured in one
of his last recordings, a version of the blues number "Red House."
Hendrix's half-sister Janie is co-producing the project with her
husband, former EWF and Commodores guitarist Sheldon Reynolds.

Clive Davis Makes Prediction About Tyrese

Music-industry veteran Clive Davis--who founded Arista Records and who
now oversees RCA Records and J Records--hosted a special performance by
R&B singer Tyrese at the China Club in New York City on Tuesday (March
11th). Before Tyrese took the stage, Davis predicted that the singer's
latest album, I Wanna Go There, will be certified platinum for a million
sales within a month.
To reach that target, I Wanna Go There would have to sell more than
500,000 copies in a month's time since it has only sold about 450,000
copies to date.
At Tuesday's event, Tyrese performed several of his hits backed by
dancers, closing his set with his latest hit, "How You Gonna Act Like
In related news, Tyrese is also slated to star in 2 Fast 2 Furious this
summer. The Fast And The Furious sequel was directed by John Singleton,
who directed Tyrese in his breakthrough role in Baby Boy.

3LW Ready For New Beginning, New Single With A Fellow Little Woman

Since the release of 3LW's second album was tainted by the controversial
departure of Naturi Naughton last fall, Kiely Williams and Adrienne
Bailon are excited to give the album the attention it deserves now that
they are again a trio.
"This feels like a new beginning, a new start," Bailon said Wednesday in
the group's first interview since Jessica Benson joined.
3LW are gearing up to release a new single, the Lil' Kim collaboration
"I Need That," and hit the road for the first time behind A Girl Can
In fact, before Benson even officially became a member of the group,
Bailon and Williams were rehearsing choreography for their upcoming tour
in New Jersey, a few hundred miles north of the newcomer's Maryland
"We had her come down and see how we vibed onstage as a unit," Bailon
said. "And one of the cool things was that she was able to fake it
without knowing the moves. We would just get on the stage and she was
right in the pocket. I would stand back and look at all three of us and
I was like, 'Wow, it looks like it was always supposed to be this way.'
Like, 'OK, this is really cool.' "
Benson, who is only 15 but has been singing for 11 years, was still in
shock on Wednesday.
"This is actually something that I've always wanted to do but I didn't
think it was gonna come so soon," she said. "I've always said, 'OK, I'm
gonna go to college and then I'm gonna try to get into the entertainment
field.' But then I heard 3LW was doin' their auditions, so I said, 'I'm
a go out here, see if I get this,' not thinking that I would actually
get it. But I'm happy that I did."
3LW tour dates will be posted soon on the group's Web site.

Mary J. Blige Takes A Beat From 50 Cent

Mary J. Blige has co-opted gangsta rapper 50 Cent's beat from his smash
Number One hit, "In Da Club." Blige got the permission of producer Dr.
Dre to record a new promotional song, "Hooked," over the 50 Cent track.
The new song also features a rap by Sean "P. Diddy" Combs.
Combs and Blige have been hard at work on the Blige's forthcoming album,
Love And Life, which will be the pair's first collaborative effort since
her 1994 album, My Life. The two had a falling out after Combs signed
Faith Evans to his Bad Boy Entertainment label.
Love And Life, which will not include "Hooked," will feature the
production of Dr. Dre and the Hitmen. Combs will serve as executive
producer of the set, which is scheduled for a summer release.

Whitney Houston Shoots 'Try It On My Own' Video

Whitney Houston was in Miami on March 1st and 2nd shooting the video for
her latest single, "Try It On My Own." The video was directed by David
LaChapelle. According to her official website, Houston is extremely
happy with the video.
The site also has posted a special message to Houston's fans sending her
"deepest thanks and appreciation for their heartfelt messages of
condolence that have been posted in regard to the recent passing of her
father, John Houston."
The singer said she personally read all of her fans' messages and sends
her thanks for their love and support.

AAries Rising

If you're looking for the next sexed-up girl group or the newest gangsta
bragging about his street exploits, keep moving -- there's nothing to
see here. But if you've noticed a trend toward introspection of late --
including increased attention to life and death, right and wrong, war
and peace -- and you like what you see, you might want to look to these
rising stars.Aaries comprises Ayana and Ayinke Hipps, identical twins
whose bond is so strong they claim they can feel each other's pain, even
when separated. The young women are unabashedly good girls -- their
melodies are sweet and pure, and their music is heavily influenced by
Baptist church choirs. In interviews, they talk of unity and balance.
Still, they don't let rowdy crowds hold it against them -- the girls
have been winning converts even as they open up for edgier acts,
including Musiq. Many of the songs on their upcoming album, "Always
Remember," sound like love ballads, but they're actually songs about the
sisters' own relationship.
True, they'll probably never sing about their complicity in gangland
warfare. Then again, with hundreds of thousands of Americans joining
millions of protesters worldwide to march for peace, maybe Aaries'
message is poised to ascend.


News 2003

News 2002

News 2001