Sunday October 24th, 2004
New CD's this past week:
- Baby Jaymes - Ghetto retro
Music news stories this week:
Ashanti Hit With $4 Million Lawsuit
Grammy Award-winning singer Ashanti was recently hit with a $4 million
lawsuit by Atlanta, Georgia-based production company T.E.A.M.
Entertainment. The New York Post reports that the company alleges that
Ashanti and her mother and manager, Tina Douglas, stiffed them out of
royalties, although the singer signed a contract with them in 1997 before
becoming a superstar on Irv Gotti's The Inc. label.
Ashanti 's lawyer, Harry Stokes, believes the production company is just
looking to cash in now that Ashanti is a star. He told Judge Jed Rakoff,
"It is an opportunity to grab lotto. 'Here is someone I knew back in 1997,
now they're successful and I want to put my hand in the pocket.'"
According to the lawsuit, Ashanti and her mother approached the company in
1996 and they produced several songs for the singer "in anticipation of
In June 1997, Ashanti allegedly signed a contract with T.E.A.M. to "render
her sole and exclusive personal services" to the company. After Ashanti
was offered a recording contract, T.E.A.M. allegedly entered into a
"release agreement" which would allow the singer to sign with a label and
T.E.A.M. would receive "certain benefits and fees." But according to
T.E.A.M., Ashanti and her mother broke the original contract as well as
the release agreement.
In related news, Ashanti will release her third solo album, Concrete Rose,
on December 7th. The first single from the set is "Only U."
Ashanti 's self-titled 2002 debut was certified triple-platinum for sales
of three million copies. The follow-up, 2003's Chapter II, was certified
platinum for sales of a million copies.
Usher Lands His Fourth Number One Record Of The Year
R&B star Usher is having an incredible year. The singer notched his fourth
Number One record this week when "My Boo," featuring Alicia Keys, climbed
to Number One on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart. The song, which
ended Ciara's seven week run at Number One her song "Goodies" featuring
Petey Pablo, is included on the reissued version of Usher's
The singer's other Number Ones this year include: "Yeah!" featuring Lil'
Jon and Ludacris, "Confessions Part II," and "Burn."
Usher is on top for now, but he may be challenged shortly by Nelly's
collaboration with Tim McGraw, "Over and Over," which jumped 10 spots this
week to Number Eight. Snoop Dogg's "Drop It Like's It Hot" featuring
Pharrell Williams may also challenge Usher in he coming weeks. The song is
Number Seven this week.
Jay-Z And R. Kelly Feuding On The Road?
Rapper Jay-Z and R&B singer R. Kelly are currently out on the Best of Both
Worlds tour, but sources close to the tour suggest that the two are just
pretending to get along to get through the shows. A source told New York
's Daily News, "Offstage, they're not even speaking. It's become a huge
During the show, the two stars are only on stage together for two short
20-minute sets, which is far different than what they planned when the
tour was originally conceived in 2002, before Kelly's legal issues.
At the time Jay-Z said: "We gonna put the show together just one set,
like, it's all the way together. It's not going to be two sets--just one
long set, you know? He doing the songs that, you know, people love him
for. I'm doing, you know, songs from my album, and we doing songs from The
Best Of Both Worlds album and we giving people what they came to see."
When the duo reconvened this year to promote their new album, Best of Both
Worlds: Unfinished Business, they both agreed to launch a 40-city tour in
support of the project, especially since the first attempt to launch the
tour was aborted in 2002 after Kelly was indicted on child pornography
According to the Daily News' source, the friction between the two stars
began on the tour's opening night in Chicago last month when Jay-Z was
warmly greeted by R. Kelly's hometown. The source said, "Jay-Z destroyed
R. Kelly onstage."
The tension grew when Kelly showed up two hours late the next night and
the third show of the tour in Cincinnati had to be postponed so Kelly
could revamp his show. The source said, "Jay was annoyed."
Kelly revamped his stage show after hearing complaints that some scenes,
including one where he's dressed in a prison outfit simulating sex with
two women in a cage, were too close to the real life issues dogging the
Kelly explained how he draws from his personal experiences to create his
music. He said: "What we come from is what we know about, and that's what
we write about. That's why our fans love us, that's why we love our fans,
'cause whatever we talk about, we're not afraid to talk the things we go
through in our music and we're going to continue to do that as long as we
Kelly's spokesman, Alan Mayer, denied that the two stars weren't getting
along or that there were any major speed bumps. He said, "A tour like this
goes through constant adjustment. Things get added and dropped all the
time. Jay and Rob have known each other for years and have tremendous
respect for each other."
Best of Both Worlds: Unfinished Business hits stores next Tuesday, October
Kanye's Hook Singer, John Legend, Ready For The Spotlight
If you've ever listened to a Kanye West-produced track and wondered who
the soulful voice on the hook belonged to, nine times out of 10 it was
John Legend. The singer/songwriter who provided the vocals for singles
like West's "Jesus Walks" and Jay-Z's "Encore" is now ready to make a name
for himself with his debut, Get Lifted.
Due December 28, the album was done in demo form long before Legend signed
his deal with Columbia Records. It wasn't until West took Legend under his
wing, however, that people started to take note.
"I was getting turned down by labels with the album that I am now
releasing," Legend said. "I guess timing is important. So the timing
worked out, and it is all good. We re-recorded everything and finished the
album in June."
While Legend was shopping his album, he had the opportunity to work with
artists like Alicia Keys, Lauryn Hill, Janet Jackson and Britney Spears,
among others, on their projects, but it was the singer's affiliation with
West that put him over the top.
"Clearly, it gave me a lot of experience working with great artists on
classic albums," said Legend. "Anytime you get that kind of experience it
will rub off on you. I learned to make the best of those opportunities,
and it helped me to make my project better.
"The exposure for me was great, as well," he added. "It all started to
build excitement around my project for both consumers and labels. Kanye's
album really got things going, and now here I come."
Legend's recent experiences as a hook singer for acts like West, Slum
Village and Dilated Peoples have also upped his notoriety. However, Legend
wants to be remembered for more than being a featured act.
"You have to break that mold yourself," he said. "I did that by making a
great album. However, if it doesn't do well, I will still just be the dude
who sang this or that hook, and there are plenty of artists out there like
It doesn't look like Legend will have to worry about that. His debut
single, "Used to Love U," is already gaining him his own contingent of
fans. According to Legend, the single, co-written and produced by West,
was written in a matter of minutes in a Los Angeles hotel room.
"We put it on [Kanye's] I'm Good mixtape a few months back, and everyone
loved it," Legend said. "It truly was my introduction to the music world.
It also reflects our movement on a number of levels, particularly with the
Kanye West isn't the only famous friend Legend recruited for Get Lifted.
His second single, "Ordinary People," was produced by Will.I.Am of the
Black Eyed Peas.
"Will played this hip-hop beat with these chords, and I just started
singing the hook, 'We are ordinary people,' " Legend explained. "It just
wasn't a Black Eyed Peas kind of song, so he let me use it for my album.
"It's the quintessential relationship song," added Legend. "My parents
were divorced for 12 years, and they got back together, so the song shows
that there are ups and downs in any relationship."
With his album release still a couple of months away, Legend has already
had the pleasure of playing in front of huge audiences by going on the
road with West and Usher on the Truth Tour.
"Just like those other projects, the tour has given people a chance to see
me before they delve into my project," said Legend. "Being in front of
tens of thousands of people and getting to perform my single is great.
There is no pressure because they are not there to see me — my name is not
on the bill. I am just an added treat."
Discovering the Joi of 'Tennessee'
"Tennessee Slim Is the Bomb," which bows on her birthday, Jan. 25, 2005,
on her own Joilicious label, marks the fourth album of her career and her
first release since 2002's "Star Kitty's Revenge" (Universal Records). Joi
recently played the new album during a visit to Billboard's New York
Although it comes in at nearly 30 tracks, the album seemed more focused
than Joi's previous outings.
In fact, it's very similar in texture to Erykah Badu's "Worldwide
Underground." In her guise as Tennessee Slim, she has created a vibey
landscape rich in classic soul nuances and contemporary sonic treatments.
It really finds her coming into her own as an artist, songwriter and
"My previous albums were more about other people's lives," Joi says. "This
one is about mine. After 'Star Kitty's Revenge,' I created my own musical
space. I fit somewhere, but not anyplace the major-label machine knows
about. I can put me where I want to."
Among the noteworthy tracks are "Dance With Yesterday" (which is equal
parts Prince and Hall & Oates), the sassy "Lifetime of Nitetime" and
"Another Rocket," featuring Joi's frank perspective: "I'll be the poster
child for true love/Or I'll be like any other mother
who don't give a damn." All the even-numbered tracks are songs; the
odd-numbered selections are spoken-word interludes by the inimitable
Declaring that she sees the album "like a film," Joi is making a 25-minute
video to accompany its release. She's also working on a feature film,
"Smiles and Cries," inspired by her life. Keith Ward (aka Future) is
writing the story.
In addition, Joi has created a new production company: Dirty Debutantes
Productions. Under this banner she plans to discover and sign new talent
as well as write songs for other artists.
Joi's album was originally slated to be issued by former Lucy Pearl
colleague Raphael Saadiq's Pookie Entertainment. Saadiq remains as one of
the album's producers, along with Joi, Marlon Cox (D'Angelo's cousin), B
Sharp (Joi's cousin, previously known as Battle Cat), Rob Bacon and Kool