B&E: Citizen Cope, Utada
Breaking & Entering: A look at acts breaking at radio and retail and entering Billboard charts. This week: Citizen Cope and Utada.Profiling acts breaking at radio and/or retail and entering Billboard's charts.
LEARNING TO COPE: Citizen Cope will get you thinking about a lot of things: politics, Greek mythology, love, and how good it feels to take a drive with nothing but a kick-ass album for company.
The singer/songwriter/DJ/producer, whose real name is Clarence Greenwood, simultaneously incites and soothes on his RCA debut, "The Clarence Greenwood Recordings," by backing lyrics like "Things have been getting real hectic these days/An eye for an eye/A spade is a spade" with a loping mixture of piano, guitar, drum machine effects and thoughtfully arousing vocals.
Greenwood split his time between New York's Electric Lady Studios and Washington, D.C.'s central East Studios to record the 11-track set, which features an impressive ensemble of backing musicians. Paul Buggy Edwards masters the drum beat on the album's first single, "Bullet and a Target," while Carlos Santana's guitar can be heard on "Son's Gonna Rise." Greenwood also enlisted the bass of Me'shell Ndegeocello for the one-versed "Sideways."
Memphis-born Greenwood -- who also plays keyboards and guitars himself on the album -- began as a hip-hop DJ for rap groups like the Michael Ivey-led Basehead before releasing his major-label debut, "Citizen Cope," on DreamWorks in 2002.
The artist is on a North American tour through November to promote his latest effort, which grabbed Greenwood his first Billboard chart position with a No. 36 bow on the Top Heatseekers chart in September. Highlights on the poetic jaunt include "Pablo Picasso" and "Hurricane Waters."
YOU SAY UTADA: Traditionally, translating a Japanese pop star's level of success to the U.S. market has proved futile, but New York-born phenom Utada is positioned to be the exception.
The original version of the 21-year-old's debut U.S. single, "Devil Inside," moves 17-10 this week on Billboard's Hot Dance Radio Airplay chart, while remixes by Richard Vission, Scumfrog and RJDT last week propelled the single 7-3 on the Hot Dance Club Play tally and 15-8 on the Hot Dance Singles Sales list.
Born Hikaru Utada, the dance/hip-hop/pop amalgam composed and recorded her first Japanese-language track at age 11 and her first English album at 13. Her Toshiba/EMI Japanese-language debut, "First Love," opened at No. 1 on the Japanese charts and has sold nine million copies since its 1999 release.
Utada collaborates with rapper/producer Timbaland for her latest effort, "Exodus," released in the U.S. on Oct. 5 on Island Records. The album -- released Sept. 8 in Japan -- holds the country's record for the largest one-day shipment of an English-language album with 1 million units. The artist appeared Oct. 8-10 on MTV's "You Hear It First."