Things are looking up for Chris Brown. His latest single “Deuces” (featuring Tyga and Kevin McCall) moved to No. 1 on the Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop songs chart this week. With his co-starring role in heist thriller “Takers,” which is now #1 at the US box office, Brown is having his best week—in a long time. Now that his image and support ratings are on the upswing, Brown has announced plans to release a brand new single at the end of the month called “Calypso.” The song will be featured on his as-yet untitled next studio album. The single “Deuces” is off of the Fan of a Fan mixtape done by Brown and Young Money rapper Tyga. Brown took to twitter to respond to his current string of successes: “Life has turned around for me. I couldn’t be more happier. Thanks to the fans.”
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John Legend and The Roots served up more good music this week with the video premiere of “Wake Up Everybody” – the lead single off of their much anticipated collaboration CD Wake Up! Against the backdrop of New York City’s Borough Hall, Legend and powerhouse vocalist Melanie Fiona belt out the feel good tune made famous by Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes. Common steps in to drop a verse amidst a 1970s old school scene before the video shifts back to the present day. Legend and The Roots resurrect memories of soulful music that features more than a catchy hook – but subtle and powerful messages also. Wake Up! is set to be released on Sept. 21 and will feature covers of music from the 60’s and 70’s, along with an original John Legend track.
Grammy Award winning singer Patti LaBelle is gearing up to bring her scene-stealing, powerhouse vocals to the Great White Way. The iconic vocalist is set to join the cast of Broadway musical ‘Fela! beginning on Sept. 14. LaBelle will assume the role of Fela’s mother, Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti, replacing actress Lillias White. The smash hit Fela! garnered 11 Tony nominations this year and took home three awards. It depicts the true story of impactful Nigerian musician and Afrobeat legend Fela Anikulapo-Kuti. Among the notable show producers are Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter, Will & Jada Pinkett Smith, Stephen Hendel and Ahmir ‘Questlove’ Thompson. LaBelle stated in a media release that she is both thrilled and honored to start her role in the production. “After seeing the show, I was struck by the choreography and work of Bill T. Jones, and the passion and joy that overflows from the stage. Fela’s mother, Funmilayo, was a strong, truly inspiring woman and I am so privileged to be able to pay tribute to her on the Broadway stage.” Patti’s stint at the Eugene O’Neill Theater in New York City is slated to last through the show’s closing in January 2011.
Among the many things eclectic R&B and pop songstress Kelis is noted for (her “Milkshake” and astronomical divorce settlement from rapper Nas) her culinary expertise is rarely one of them. That is until, she graduated from Le Cordon Bleu culinary school. Now, Kelis throws down not just on the stage, but in the kitchen as well. The singer and certified chef recently sat down with NY Times Magazine to discuss food, life and music. Kelis spoke about growing up with a mom who had a catering business and her current obsession with sauces, “Everything I do has a certain quality, a certain flair, a certain flavor. I like to eat the way I like to dress, the way I listen to music: put it all together and it’s a great party.”
It’s good to know that if Kelis never makes it back to solid standing on the charts, she can still fire up our pots. She just wrapped up a brief tour with singer Robyn to promote her latest album Flesh Tone and has a cookbook in the works.
In the three years since R&B singer/songwriter and producer Tank released his last album, the musical dynamo has been busy cranking out hits for the likes of Jamie Foxx and Omarion. Now the man known for his powerhouse vocals and guttural crooning on “Maybe I Deserve,” is back with a new album, Now or Never. This long-awaited fourth studio album is slated for a September 21 release. Tank recently released the video for steamy lead single “Sex Music” via VIBE.com. Check it out.
In 2006, the music world suffered the untimely death of Grammy®-winning, soul-stirring baritone singer Gerald Levert. Gerald, first known as part of the platinum selling 1980s R&B trio LeVert, then as a solo artist and later as part of the R&B supergroup LSG, left a telling void in the music world. With the upcoming release The Best Of Gerald Levert, that signature voice will be heard once again in rare form. The compilation by Rhino Records pays tribute to Levert’s greatest work, including the previously unreleased “Can It Stay.” Available on August 31, the 16-song set spans two decades and Levert’s entire career. Classic hits such as “Casanova,” “Baby Hold On To Me” and “My Body” are arranged like a chronological roadmap of Levert’s extraordinary career in music. “Can It Stay” is available for download now at all digital retailers.
Young, R&B siren Dondria is one to watch. The So So Def singer has just been added to the Passion, Pain & Pleasure Tour featuring Trey Songz and Monica. The voice behind the romantic ballad “You’re the One” was discovered by Jermaine Dupri after making a stir on the internet with her huge online following. Now, with the recent premiere of her video for “Shawty Wus Up” featuring Johnta Austin and Diamond, Dondria is steadily making waves on the R&B scene. The tour kicks off on August 6th and Dondria’s debut album, Dondria vs. Phatfffat drops on August 17th.
Expectant mommy-to-be Alicia Keys seemingly has no plans of slowing down anytime soon. Despite being visibly pregnant, Keys recently performed at the Essence Music Festival and is a slated performer at September’s seventh annual Keep A Child Alive Black Ball concert, alongside Jay-Z and Sade. The concert, scheduled to take place on September 30th at New York City’s Hammerstein Ballroom, is organized by Keys’ Keep A Child Alive (KCA) Foundation.
As co-founder of KCA, Keys has played an active role in the organization’s efforts to provide life-saving anti-retroviral treatment and support to families affected by HIV/AIDS in Africa and India. The Black Ball, which takes place yearly in both New York and London, unites celebrity and philanthropy for a star-studded night of performances and fundraising. Since 2004, the event has raised over $10 million and assisted more than 250,000 people with orphan care and clinical centers. Last year’s Black Ball in New York drew 1,000 guests and raised more than $2 million.
For tickets for the event and more information, visit keepachildalive.org.
Usher is gearing up to release a new CD just 5 months after his last. Capitalizing on the success of current album Raymond V. Raymond, which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart, Usher is set to unveil eight new songs on August 24. The new disc will be titled Versus and include singles “DJ Got Us Fallin’ in Love” featuring Pitbull and “Hot Tottie” produced by Polow Da Don. Also on August 24, Usher will re-release Raymond V. Raymond as a special deluxe album, combining all songs from both albums into one package. With his newest single “OMG” resting high on the charts, it’s no wonder Usher is riding this wave of success to the fullest. It’s safe to say, Usher is back on top.
Fresh off his crowning moment at the BET Awards, Prince recently sat down with the UK’s Daily Mirror to discuss his new album, 20TEN. The album will be released on July 10th (for $free.99) to Mirror readers. Despite the name of the album, Prince is not a fan of the current times. In the interview, he stressed the importance of distributing his music in new ways, but maintained his negative views towards the internet: “The internet’s completely over. I don’t see why I should give my new music to iTunes or anyone else. They won’t pay me an advance for it and then they get angry when they can’t get it.” 20Ten will be released in CD format only in the Mirror. That means no downloads anywhere in the world because of his ongoing battles against internet uses of his music. The musician has long battled to ban YouTube and iTunes from using any of his music and has even shut down his own official website. While this may all seem a bit extreme, do we really expect anything different from a man who once changed his name to a symbol and had to be referred to as ‘The Artist Formerly Known as Prince?’