Billboard Bits: Roots, Royce Da 5'9", 'Come Together'

Stories on a New York tour by the Roots, the debut solo album from rapper Royce Da 5'9", and the DVD/VHS release of TNT's "Come Together: A Night for John Lennon's Words and Music" concert.

The RootsThe Roots will celebrate the Nov. 26 release of their long-delayed MCA album "Phrenology" with four New York performances. Shows begin Nov. 24 at Joe's Pub, and continue Nov. 26 at S.O.B.'s, Nov. 27 at the Mercury Lounge, and conclude Nov. 29 at the Knitting Factory. Album guests such as Musiq, Talib Kweli, and Cody Chesnutt are expected to make appearances at some of the shows.

"Phrenology" is the follow-up to 1999's "Things Fall Apart" which debuted at No. 2 on Billboard's Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart and No. 4 on The Billboard 200. The set has sold 801,000 copies in the U.S., according to Nielsen SoundScan.

"There's a challenge after a big record," says drummer/producer ?uestlove. "There's an instinct to try to duplicate it, or if you can't than to abandon your sound. But I feel the challenge is to evolve."

-- Jonathan Cohen, N.Y.

Royce Da 5'9Eminem compatriot Royce Da 5'9" -- who has worked with Dr. Dre, Method Man, DJ Clue, and Willa Ford -- will release his debut album, "Rock City Version 2.0," Nov. 26 via Koch Entertainment. Executive-produced by Eminem, who guests on the title cut, the Detroit rapper's set features guest appearances by lauded R&B newcomer Amerie, as well as Clipse, who appears on first single "Mr. Baller." The set will also include Royce's track "Boom," initially heard in MTV's hip-hopera adaptation of "Carmen."

After his original version of "Rock City" was heavily bootlegged in New York and his native Detroit, Royce created "Version 2.0" for the official release, deleting several cuts and a total of five others, including "Mr. Baller." The initial pressing will also be and enhanced disc that will boast the "Rock City" video clip, which also features Eminem.

"My original underground fan base is going to like the '2.0' version better," the rapper said in a statement. "It's something that appeals to people when it's more of a street sound. Just by replacing those few songs, it made the album go from light to dark."

-- Barry A. Jeckell, N.Y.

Dave MatthewsLast year's TNT live concert special "Come Together: A Night for John Lennon's Words and Music" will be released Dec. 3 on DVD and VHS home video formats via Pioneer Entertainment. The memorable event was hosted by Kevin Spacey and featured performances of Lennon's songs by such noted artists Dave Matthews, Stone Temple Pilots, and Yolanda Adams and Billy Preston, who opened the show with a performance of "Imagine."

Others who performed included Alanis Morissette, Nelly Furtado, Marc Anthony, Shelby Lynne, Natalie Merchant, Cyndi Lauper, Lou Reed, and Craig David, and others. Actors Kevin Bacon, Benjamin Bratt, Edie Falco, James Gandolfini, Dustin Hoffman, and Ben Stiller, as well as Lennon's widow, Yoko Ono, made guest appearances. Lennon's son Sean's poignant performance of "Julia," was among the highlights, as was his teaming with Rufus Wainwright and Moby for a rendition of the Beatles' "Across the Universe."

All proceeds from the sale of the DVD and VHS will benefit the New York-based Robin Hood Foundation, which established a relief fund to help victims' families and New Yorkers suffering from the economic aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the U.S.

-- Barry A. Jeckell, N.Y.