Sunday February 22nd, 2004


New CD's this past week:

- Rosie Gaines - You gave me freedom (UK release)


Music news stories this week:

Truth, Joi Ready Debuts For Saadiq Label

The inaugural releases on Raphael Saadiq's Pookie Entertainment label will
be new studio albums by Truth (formerly Truth Hurts) and Joi. Due May 11,
Truth's "Ready Now" boasts production by Saadiq, Battlecat, Kelvin Wooten,
Brian & Casey Wilson, Alonzo Jackson and new Pookie artist Baj'. The lead
single is the Saadiq and Wooten-produced title track
"A mid- to uptempo song with a little hardcore knock and a hip-hop feel"
is how Truth describes the forthcoming cut to "I'm most
excited about working with a new visionary [Saadiq] and adding a more
musical edge," she continues. "I opened myself up to using more creative
resources this time, wanting to work with up-and-coming producers and
As Truth Hurts, the former Aftermath/Interscope singer scored a No. 2 R&B
hit with "Addictive" from her 2002 debut, "Truthfully Speaking." The song
later became the target of a copyright-infringement lawsuit, as it
contained a four-minute sample of Indian composer Bappi Lahiri's "Thoda
Resham Lagta."
"That happens sometimes to the best of us," says Truth of the legal issues
that followed. "When you sample you take that risk. I knew that from the
As for Joi, her as yet-untitled album is slated for a June 1 release and
is being recorded in Saadiq's Los Angeles studio. She has recently been
heard guesting on Saadiq's "All Hits at the House of Blues" live album and
OutKast's Grammy-winning "Speakerboxxx/The Love Below."


Usher Lets Skeletons Out Of The Closet On Confessions

"Yeah!," Usher's collaboration with Lil Jon and Ludacris, wasn't intended
to be a proper single from his upcoming album, Confessions. Released to
street DJs and mixtapes, the song was just meant to tease the appetites of
Usher fans who've waited three years for the singer's fifth studio disc.
But quickly the appreciation for that song has grown — in the clubs, on
the radio and in the streets. "It just sort of happened," Usher said
recently. "You know, you get Lil Jon on a record — that's crazy. Ludacris?
Bring him in. It's lights out, man."
"Yeah!" could be called the first consciously styled "crunk R&B" record.
It's an ode both to the distinct grind of Southern rap beats and Usher's
own signature soul croon. Even though Usher doesn't want to be known as a
hip-hop artist ("Strictly R&B — we're bringin' it back," he boasted), he
thinks he could be onto something with this mash-up of genres. "I think
you're going to get more R&B/crunk records," he said. "I'm happy that I
could be the one to kick it off."
Usher titled his album Confessions because he feels it's his most personal
yet. He wrote more songs on this one than on any previous album. "All of
us have our Pandora's boxes or skeletons in our closets," he explained. "I
let a few of them out, you know. I've got a lot to say. I've got a lot of
things and stuff built in me that I just want to let go of."
He was expressing the same sentiment back when he was in the studio and
now Usher has the songs to prove it. On the track "Confessions II," he
sings, "Got me talking to myself asking how am I going to tell you/ 'Bout
the call I got from the girl/ That I was creepin' with, creepin' with/
Says she's three months pregnant and she's keepin' it."
"It wasn't a specific situation that happened in my life right now," he
elaborated. "In other words, I wasn't in a relationship and got another
girl pregnant — right now. But it is something I can relate to and it's
something that has happened to me in the past. As I said, I have a few
deep, dark ones that I've kept stowed away in a closet for a minute."
A window into his inner thoughts is also there on "Burn," a song about
breakups and letting relationships flame out. Said Usher, "It's
unfortunate when you have to let a situation go because it's not working.
Although you may want to stay, you've got to let it burn."
His explanation has added resonance, since he just broke up with longtime
girlfriend Chilli from TLC. "Yeah, I’m single," he smiled, sheepishly.
"We're still friends. It's just something that happens in life."
Usher recruited a number of producers to work on Confessions, which drops
March 30. Jermaine Dupri, the Neptunes, and Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis have
all written songs with him. Other producers include Vidal and Dre, Lil Jon
and Rich Harrison.

Track list for Confessions, according to Arista Records:
"Red Light"
"Confessions II"
"Caught Up"
"Truth Hurts"
"Simple Things"
"Bad Girl"
"Can U Handle It"
"Do It to Me"
"Take Your Hand"
"Sweet Lies"
"Follow Me"

Mary J. Blige Changes Her Mind About Drama

The woman who passionately sang about "No More Drama" has just signed on
for one.
Mary J. Blige will make her theater debut in an off-Broadway production of
"The Exonerated" later this month. Her run at New York's 45 Bleecker
Theater will last for less than a week, from February 24 to 29.
"The Exonerated" is about the experiences of people who were on death row,
subsequently found innocent, then freed by the state. Producers crafted
the play out of true stories collected from 40 people around the country.
"The Exonerated" features a rotating cast of guest storytellers, much like
the popular production "The Vagina Monologues." Past cast members have
included Alanis Morissette, Mia Farrow and Jeff Goldblum.

Beyoncé, Vandross Lead Soul Train Nominees

With four nominations, Beyoncé heads the list of contenders for the 18th
annual Soul Train Music Awards, including R&B/soul or rap album of the
year. That category also features Luther Vandross, who is close behind
with three nominations of his own. The awards will be handed out March 20
at the International Cultural Center in Los Angeles.
Beyoncé, who recently took home five Grammys stemming from her Columbia
solo debut, "Dangerously in Love," is nominated for best R&B/soul album,
female and R&B/soul or rap album of the year. Her hit "Crazy in Love"
featuring Jay-Z is up for best R&B/soul single, female and its video clip
is among the nominees for the Michael Jackson Award for best R&B/soul or
rap music video.
Vandross' "Dance With My Father," which won the Grammy for song of the
year, netted a nod for best R&B/soul single, male. His album of the same
name earned nominations for best R&B/soul album, male and R&B/soul or rap
album of the year. Additional multiple nominees include OutKast, Erykah
Badu, B2K, Anthony Hamilton, R. Kelly and the Isley Brothers featuring Ron
Alicia Keys and Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds will co-host the two-hour
event, which will feature appearances by Beyoncé, Janet Jackson and
OutKast, among others.
The show will be nationally syndicated special by Tribune Entertainment
Company. The show will air live in some markets and on tape in others; the
broadcast window for the program is March 20-28.
The Soul Train Music Awards recognize achievements in R&B/soul,
rap/hip-hop and gospel. The voting body is comprised of recording artists
as well as active professionals in radio programming, retail sales and

This is the complete list of the nominees:

Best R&B/soul single, female:
"Rain on Me," Ashanti
"Danger," Erykah Badu
"Crazy in Love," Beyonceé featuring Jay-Z
"You Don't Know My Name," Alicia Keys

Best R&B/soul single, male:
"Comin' From Where I'm From," Anthony Hamilton
"Put That Woman First," Jaheim
"Frontin'," Pharrell featuring Jay-Z
"Dance With My Father," Luther Vandross

Best R&B/soul single, group/band/duo:
"Girlfriend," B2K
"Say Yes," Floetry
"Beusted," Isley Brothers featuring Ronald Isley & JS
"Walked Out of Heaven," Jagged Edge

Best R&B/soul album, female:
"World Wide Underground" (EP), Erykah Badu
"Dangerously in Love," Beyoncé
"Love & Life," Mary J. Blige
"So Damn Happy," Aretha Franklin

Best R&B/soul album, male:
"Subject," Dwele
"Comin' From Where I'm From," Anthony Hamilton
"Chocolate Factory," R. Kelly
"Dance With My Father," Luther Vandross

Best R&B/soul album, group/band/duo:
"Pandemonium," B2K
"Body Kiss," Isley Brothers featuring Ronald Isley
"Surrender to Love," Kindred The Family Soul
"Neptunes Present... Clones," the Neptunes

Best R&B/sould or rap album of the year:
"Dangerously in Love," Beyoncé
"Chocolate Factory," R. Kelly
"Speakerboxxx/The Love Below," OutKast
"Dance With My Father," Luther Vandross

Best R&B/soul or rap new artist:
"Right Thurr," Chingy
"Stunt 101," G-Unit
"Superstar," Ruben Studdard
"Through the Wire," Kanye West

Michael Jackson Award for best R&B/soul or rap music video:
"Crazy in Love," Beyoncé featuring Jay-Z
"Gossip Folks," Missy Elliott featuring Ludacris
"Get Low," Lil' Jon & the Eastside Boyz featuring Ying Yang Twins
"Hey Ya!," OutKast

Best gospel album:
"The Prince of Praise (Live at New Birth Cathedral)," Byron Cage
"Donnie McClurkin... Again," Donnie McClurkin
"Diary of a Psalmist," Marvin Sapp
"Bringing it All Together," Vickie Winans



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