Billboard Bits: Ja Rule, O-Town, King Crimson

News on Ja Rule, O-Town, King Crimson

NellyRapper Ja Rule will release a new album, "The Last Temptation," Nov. 19 via Def Jam. The first single, "Thug Lovin'," features R&B vocalist Bobby Brown; a video directed by producer Irv Gotti will be show Oct. 15-17 in Las Vegas and Los Angeles. Rule's latest solo album, "Pain Is Love," debuted at No. 1 on The Billboard 200 and Billboard's Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums tally last October.

As previously reported, Ja Rule will release an album the following week with the Cash Money Click -- now known as the Cash Murda Click, or simply CMC. The set, "Est. Since '93," is due via Murder Inc./TVT and was produced by Gotti and Murder Inc.'s in-house producers, 7 Aurileus and Chink Santana. Guests on the set include Ashanti, Tah Murder, and the Murder Inc. Crew.

-- Jonathan Cohen, N.Y.

NellyBefore there was "American Idol" there was "Making the Band," the reality television series that spawned the J Records group O-Town. The act has slated Nov. 12 as the release date for its sophomore album, "O2," with first single "These are the Days" heading to U.S. radio outlets Monday (Sept. 30) for airplay consideration.

Unlike the group's self-titled debut, its members -- Ashley Angel, Jacob Underwood, Trevor Penick, Dan Miller, and Erik-Michael Estrada -- contributed as songwriters on more than half of the tracks on "O2." Producers who helped to flesh out the sound of the new material include Nelly, Jamie Houston, Damon Sharpe, and Steve Kipner. "Since each of us came from such diverse influences, we have strengths that lie in different areas," Angel says, "and because of that we can pull off a lot of different music.

Released in February 2001, "O-Town" debuted at No. 5 on The Billboard 200 and has sold 1.6 million copies in the U.S., according to Nielsen SoundScan.

-- Barry A. Jeckell, N.Y.

NellyProg-rock titans King Crimson will release a new studio EP Oct. 8 via Sanctuary Records. "Happy With What You Have to Be Happy With," the group's label debut, features 11 tracks, including "Eyes Wide Open," "Larks' Tongues in Aspic (Part IV)," and the title cut.

King Crimson is currently a quartet consisting of founding guitarist Robert Fripp, longtime guitarist/vocalist Adrian Belew, bassist Trey Gunn, and drummer Pat Mastelotto. The group plans to follow the EP's release with a full-length album in 2003 -- tentatively titled "The Power To Believe" -- and a world tour.

The group's last studio album was 2000's "ConstruKtion of Light" (Virgin), which failed to chart. Its predecessor, 1995's "Thrak," debuted that May at No. 83 on The Billboard 200.

-- Troy Carpenter, N.Y.