Previewing new albums from Lil' Kim, Fabolous, King Crimson, and more.
Missy Elliott, Mr. Cheeks, Styles P, and Mashonda Tifere are among the guests lending a hand on Lil' Kim's new album "La Bella Mafia," due this week from Queen Bee/Atlantic. Mr. Cheeks appears on first single "The Jump Off," which was produced by Timbaland and is No. 7 on Billboard's Hot Rap Tracks chart this week.
A star-studded team of producers was behind the boards for "La Bella Mafia," including Swizz Beatz, Kanye West, DJ Twinz, Havoc, and Scott Storch. The set is the follow-up to Lil' Kim's 2000 opus "Notorious K.I.M.," which debuted at No. 1 on Billboard's Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums chart and No. 4 on The Billboard 200. It has sold more than 1.3 million copies in the U.S., according to Nielsen SoundScan.
Since the release of "Notorious K.I.M.," the artist made headlines thanks to her collaboration with Mya, Pink, and Christina Aguilera on a cover LaBelle's "Lady Marmalade," which hit No. 1 on Billboard's Hot 100. Recorded for Interscope's "Moulin Rouge" soundtrack, the single picked up the Grammy for best pop collaboration with vocals and MTV Video Music Awards trophies for best video and best video from a film, among other honors.
Kim has also guested on recent albums from Swizz Beatz and 3LW and teamed with Queen Latifah and Macy Gray for the song "Cell Block Tango (He Had It Comin')" on Epic's soundtrack to the hit film "Chicago."
Brooklyn, N.Y.-based rapper Fabolous returns this week with his second album, "Street Dreams," released via Desert Storm/Elektra. The disc will feature production from the likes of DJ Clue & Duro, Timbaland, the Neptunes, Rockwilder, Rick Rock, and Just Blaze.
"Street Dreams" will be the follow-up to last year's "Ghetto Fabolous," which debuted at No. 2 on Billboard's Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart and No. 4 on The Billboard 200. It has sold more than 1 million copies in the U.S., according to Nielsen SoundScan. "I got a lot of compliments on the last album," Fabolous says. "With this album, I was really trying to lead [from] where I left off on the last one."
The new album features first single "This Is My Party" (No. 35 this week on Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks chart), as well as a remix of the last album's "Trade It All" featuring P. Diddy and Jagged Edge.
For more than two decades, guitarist/vocalist Adrian Belew has been the voice of King Crimson on stage and record. And as the band prepares the release of "The Power To Believe," due this week on Sanctuary Records, it's Belew who's the voice of the band with the press. But behind the scenes King Crimson has always been guitarist Robert Fripp's band. From the band's late 1960s debut "In The Court of the Crimson King, An Observation by King Crimson," it's been driven by Fripp's quiet countenance.
That's not lost on Belew, who says that although he's been in the band since 1981, it's been in the last five years that he's figured out the best way to ride the creative wave of King Crimson. "Robert and I work best if we initiate an idea together rather than bring in separate ideas," he says. So for "Power," he and Fripp sat together over the course of several weeks working through musical ideas in an unplugged setting.
After the initial brainstorm session between Belew and Fripp and the full-band rehearsal, the songs made their way to live sets as King Crimson toured with Tool. Belew says that playing the new songs live gives "a better sense of what's working and what needs further changes. We'd take these different pieces out -- they weren't really completed, but we'd have an arrangement that we felt strong enough about to play -- most of them never had vocals, because that's usually the last thing on the painting."
Additional titles hitting stores this week include:
-- A self-titled album, the first in more than four years, from rock act Hootie and the Blowfish (Atlantic).
-- New albums from modern rock outfits Evanescence ("Fallen," Wind-Up) and Oleander ("Joyride," Sanctuary).
-- The self-titled debut from U.K. rock act the Coral (Columbia).
-- A self-titled effort from veteran hard rock group Voivod, featuring newest member/former Metallica bassist Jason Newsted (Surfdog).
-- Super-Audio reissues of the Police's "Every Breath You Take," "Ghost in the Machine," "Live," "Outlandos d'Amour," "Reggatta de Blanc," "Synchronicity," "Zenyatta Mondatta" (A&M).
-- A 1980 Beach Boys concert featuring the group's classic lineup, "Good Timin' -- Live at Knebworth, England 1980" (Eagle).
-- Triple Threat DJs' "Many Styles" (Fat Beats), featuring guest spots from Talib Kweli, Rob Swift, Souls Of Mischief, and Mystic.
-- Nebraska-based underground rock outfit Cursive's "The Ugly Organ" (Saddle Creek).
-- Two new albums from Kristin Hersh: a solo album, "The Grotto," and a self-titled effort from her band Throwing Muses (4AD/Beggars Banquet).