Sunday May 25th, 2003


New CD's this past week:

- Earth, Wind & Fire - The promise: sounding as good as ever on this long
 awaited new album
- Dwele - Subject: a new star on the soul horizon


Music news stories this week:

Ashanti Finally Gets A Man (And An Elephant) In 'Rock Wit U' Clip

With all her protective Murder Inc. brothers always around, Ashanti says
it's hard for her to get any action, even when she's shooting a video.
With Irv Gotti directing all her clips, we've seen Ashanti exchange
pecks on the cheek, throw her man's keys out the window in frustration
and pin him to the bed to chastise him. But the Inc.'s princess has
never really had a chance to exude that loving feeling on camera until
While shooting a video for "Rock Wit U (Awww Baby)" earlier this month
in Miami, Ashanti got more action than she bargained for. In the clip,
helmed by "Bulletproof Monk" director Paul Hunter, fans will see the
22-year-old at her most affectionate and adventurous.
"The wonderful Paul Hunter ... brought in a female elephant, Bubbles,"
the singer said recently. "He had me riding in the water on the elephant
where the beach is at in Miami. I'm not gonna front, I was shook. The
first time I got on, she had to kneel down and she was about 10 feet
[high]. I had on this skimpy dress and flip-flops. I was like, 'Ah, man,
I don't want to get on this elephant.' It was hot and her skin shifted
from side to side, so I always felt I was gonna fall. Once I got used to
her it was a wonderful feeling.
"Paul just brings that next-level thing," she continued. "It's a growth
spurt from my first three singles and all the stuff I did with [those
videos]. This is the first time I actually have a guy. He's my man. I'm
actually dealing with this guy for the summer, which was crazy 'cause we
had to be close. I'm around Murder Inc. all the time; they're always
blocking things. This was the first time I got to chill with a guy. It
was cool. He was nice. We got to drive in a jungle."
Adventurous safari expeditions aren't necessarily the way to Ashanti's
heart in real life, she said. All you have to do is have a keen sense of
"I'm a [laid-back] type of person. I can go to South Beach and sit
outside and get a nice daiquiri and just talk. I like [the New York
restaurant] Mr. Chow's. We can go to the movies. I just went to this
mall, Dolphins Mall, and they have a huge virtual reality game room. I'm
all about variety. Just make me laugh and you're good."
"Rock Wit U (Awww Baby)" is the first video from Ashanti's upcoming LP,
Chapter 2, due July 1.

112 Go For The Slow-Grind Vibe On Hot & Wet

112 are done number crunching, at least when it comes to titling their
LPs. After 112, Room 112 and Part III, the foursome has decided to use
only words, Hot & Wet.
On their new LP, due September 9, the guys don't deviate from their MO
of harmonizing over hip-hop tracks and flaunting their choirboy voices
against slow ballad beats.
"I don't know what you're doing to me," they sing on the album's first
single, "Na Na Na Na," which features Sean Paul and should hit airwaves
at the end of June.
And if Q, Mike, Slim and Daron are clueless at the beginning of the
song, by the time the cut is over, they are fully acquainted with what's
going down. That's because they are calling the shots.
"Rock that ass, work your body, change positions, twerk it for me," they
melodically encourage over Daron's bass-heavy beat that mixes bouncy
down South funk with reggae.
112's lanky member handles the bulk of the album's production, and the
group wrote all of the album's songs except for one. The guys did show
that there were no hard feelings with P. Diddy, with whom they had a
recent contract dispute (see "112 Team Up With Sean Paul, Hope To Work
With Ghostface Killah"), as they looked to P.D. for a few tracks.
"Knock You Down" will probably remind you of a Jodeci song, and with
good reason. Diddy co-produced the record with Stevie J., who worked
with JoJo, K-Ci, Devante and Mr. Dalvin throughout their '90s run.
"Make me wanna sweat when you touch me like that," they later sing on
the title track, which Diddy produced and will be laying his vocals on.
Joe Budden also makes a cameo (see "Joe Budden Fights To Get His Voice
Heard ... Literally"), delivering rhymes about sex with swiftness to
match the uptempo flow of the beat.
"Drop them jeans, unleash the freak," Joe spits on the track. "You
looking so good I could taste the cigarette after we finish."
"Right There for You," another track Diddy had a hand in producing,
finds 112 taking a more gentlemanly approach. It's about the perennial
girl who is not getting treated right by her man. The guys say they have
no qualms about crying or even dying for their lady. "Whatever he won't
do, I'll do," they insist.
"We wanted to take it back to when you went to the club and could
slow-grind with your girl," Mike said Tuesday night at Right Track
studio while he and his boys played selections from Hot & Wet for a
handful of people.
"This is the realest thing 112 ever wrote," Slim said about another song
called "Everyday."
"It describes our situation from top to bottom," Q added.
"People look at us and say, 'Man, they got it made,' " the quartet
details on the cut, using a sing-songy flow similar to R. Kelly's on "I
Wish." "They don't know what we been through."
And as they later tell on the song, if it wasn't "one damn thing," it
was "another damn thing" during the past five years. The group says that
people slept on their songmaking skills even though they wrote many of
their own hits. And even with all the smash records, their bank accounts
stayed diminutive. If it weren't for show money, they would have had no
Luckily for the guys, they have a fat new contract with Def Jam to help
pay for those iced-out 112 pendants they all were rocking on Tuesday.
"The music that's been out during our time off has been cool, but we
wanted to make records that, [years later], you remember where you were
the first time you heard them," Slim said of the LP.

Mary J. Blige To Duet With Sting On His Next LP

He's already done the jazz and world music thing, so now Sting is going
for some R&B flavor. On his upcoming album, Sacred Love, the Rock and
Roll Hall of Famer duets with Mary J. Blige on the song "Whenever I Say
Your Name."
The dynamic duo first hooked up at the 2001 My VH1 Awards, where they
brought down the house with a version of Sting's "If You Love Somebody
Set Them Free." Sting was so enamored of Blige's gospel throwdown at the
end of the performance that he knew he wanted her on his next album,
according to a Blige spokesperson.
The album, due September 23, also features a guest performance from
sitar player Anoushka Shankar on the song "Book of My Life."
The former Police frontman's seventh solo album, co-produced by Sting
and his longtime keyboardist/producer, Kipper, is the follow-up to
1999's slow-burn hit Brand New Day, which got a kick-start when the song
"Desert Rose" was used in a Jaguar commercial. The first single from
Sacred Love is "Send Your Love," which is expected to debut at radio in
late July.
After completing recording sessions in Paris, Sting and his band filmed
material for a live DVD at the singer's Malibu, California, home and at
the Mayan Theater in Los Angeles last week. The DVD will feature a
mixture of new material and a few oldies, as well as surprise guests,
commentary, and behind-the-scenes and documentary footage, according to
a spokesperson for Sting. Blige filmed a performance for the DVD during
the Mayan Theater sessions. A documentary on the making of the album
will air on the A&E channel in early October, and the DVD will follow on
October 7.
Sting's official Web site will soon begin posting a wealth of "making
of" footage, outtakes and behind-the-scenes photos, as well as a preview
of the DVD and early snippets of "Send Your Love." A world tour is
slated to begin in early 2004.
The collabo with Blige won't be the first recorded R&B hookup for the
51-year-old rocker. He can currently be heard singing with British star
Craig David on his hit "Rise and Fall." The pair performed the song
together at L.A.'s Wango Tango Festival on Saturday.
Sting is tentatively slated to contribute a song to the soundtrack of
the Nicole Kidman, Renée Zellweger and Jude Law film "Cold Mountain,"
which features an acting cameo from Jack White of the White Stripes.

Ginuwine Releases 'In Those Jeans'

R&B singer Ginuwine recently released the second single, "In Those
Jeans," from his latest release, The Senior. The song is presently
Number 28 on the urban Radio & Records National Airplay chart.
Ginuwine wrote the majority of the songs on The Senior and recently
explained that he needs to be alone in the studio while working. "I'm
the type of person, you give me the song, you get out the room,"
Ginuwine said. "I do my lyrics, you come back and listen, then you do
your thing. And that's how it goes down with me in the studio. That's
just me as an artist, you know what I'm sayin'? I don't like nobody in
there while I'm singing. I don't like nobody in there telling me what I
should write or nothing like that. So even if you are the producer, you
have to leave."

Macy Gray Signs Cartoon Deal With Warner Bros.

Macy Gray has teamed up with Warner Bros. to produce an animated
television show titled A Pretty Good Life. The show will be based
loosely on Gray's childhood in Los Angeles. It's still unclear as to
when the show will begin airing, and on which network it will run. Gray
first began developing the cartoon in 2001.
Gray will hold many titles in the production of A Pretty Good Life. Not
only will the singer provide the voice for the show's main character,
but Gray will also serve as the show's executive producer and will
compose the show's music.

New Luther Vandross Song Unveiled On AOL Music Sparks Outpouring 
From Fans

Last week, AOL Music debuted Luther Vandross' new song "Dance With My
Father" on their "First Listen" program. The song, written and produced
by Luther himself, became the most favorably rated "First Listen" on AOL
Music to date after over 98% of those who voted gave the song a positive
rating. Over a half million people have streamed the song to-date.
Furthermore, the week of the First Listen, "Dance With My Father" hit #
1 on the AOL Music Top 11 Songs chart and Luther was # 2 on AOL Music's
Top 11 Artists chart.
"Dance With My Father" is the title cut from Luther Vandross' fifteenth
album - the much-anticipated follow up to his 2001's platinum-plus
self-titled J Records debut. It will be released on June 10, 2003.
Recently, the R&B icon has been battling for his life after suffering a
serious stroke 4 weeks ago. Before this Luther had been quoted as saying
this was his "best album to date" and that "Dance With My Father" was
his "career song."
His mother, Mrs. Mary Vandross comments, "Knowing how he loves this new
album, I believe Luther would want it to come out now and I'm so
grateful that he can get this chance. He is going to recover and when he
does, I want him to be greeted with a big success story."
Evan Harrison, Executive Director of AOL Music, said, "Our thoughts are
with Luther, his family and his fans at this time. We were thrilled with
the overwhelming response from members who had the first oppurtunity to
hear 'Dance with My Father' on AOL."
Launched in December 2001, AOL Music's First Listen program has emerged
as a premier outlet for music's hottest stars to exclusively debut their
new songs. First Listen lets music fans hear new songs from
platinum-selling artists before they are available anywhere else at AOL
Keyword: First Listen.

Barry White's Family Confirms Stroke

Soul singer Barry White, battling kidney failure since last fall,
suffered a new health setback on May 1 with a speech-impairing stroke,
his daughter, Shaheara White, has revealed.
The stroke also affected the right side of White's body, but the
58-year-old entertainer is otherwise in "great spirits" as he waits in
Los Angeles for his condition to stabilize enough to undergo a kidney
transplant, his daughter said.
White's record label, the Island Def Jam Music Group, disclosed in
September that he was undergoing dialysis for kidney failure brought on
by a history of high blood pressure.
"My dad had surgery May 1 to place a catheter in his arm," his daughter
said. "He had a stroke ... that affected his speech and the right side
of his body, but he is in great spirits."
The singer, a native of Galveston, Texas, who grew up in L.A., was
honored last week through a resolution adopted by the L.A. City Council
to name a recreation center for him.



News 2003

News 2002

News 2001