Previewing new albums from Lil' Mo, Basement Jaxx, Tricky, Lonestar, Jagged Edge, and more.
"I guess I could re-title the album 'It's About Damn Time'," laughs Lil' Mo, who this week will finally release her EastWest/Elektra debut, "Based on a True Story," nearly a year after its originally scheduled date. "But I'm glad the label didn't put it out there just to put it out there. I don't want to be a write-off." Given that the single "Superwoman Pt. II" is No. 13 on The Billboard Hot 100, it doesn't seem there's much chance of that happening.
The no-holds-barred artist hasn't exactly been twiddling her thumbs since signing with Elektra in 1998. In addition to recording her own album, the Queens-bred singer/rapper/songwriter/producer -- who has penned tunes for Timbaland, BLACKstreet, and 702 -- also made cameos on mentor Missy "Misdemeanor" Elliott's "Hot Boyz," Ideal's "Whatever," Next's "Wifey," and Ja Rule's two R&B hits, "I Cry" and "Put It on Me."
The new album runs the gamut from the autobiographical "My Story" to Carl Thomas' melodic guest shot on "Player Not the Game" to her own favorite, "Supa Star," in which she upbraids people for "living above their means and not taking care of the real things."
Since forming in the mid-'90s, the photogenic British duo Basement Jaxx -- Felix Buxton and Simon Ratcliffe -- has prided itself on bucking the status quo of contemporary clubland. "Too many people simply do what's been done before," Ratcliffe explains. "We like to shake things up. Isn't that what pop music's supposed to be about? For us, it's always been about doing something fresh."
On its sophomore XL/Astralwerks album -- the scintillatingly sassy "Rooty," which follows in the feisty footwork of 1999's "Remedy" -- Basement Jaxx continues to reinvent house music as it redefines its own sound. On such infectious tracks as "Breakaway," "Jus 1 Kiss," "Broken Dreams," "Where's Your Head At," and "Do Your Thing," the duo seamlessly nicks bits and pieces from such far-flung sources as Chic; Earth, Wind & Fire; Felix de Ypacarai y Sus Paraguayos; Gary Numan; and jazzer Kenny Barron.
First single "Romeo" debuted at No. 6 on the U.K. singles chart. Buxton and Ratcliffe will DJ throughout the summer in North America and Europe; a North American tour featuring a live band is in the works for the fall.
'Blow' Like The Wind
"Unity makes you stronger -- you need that in this business," declares Adrian Thaws, aka Tricky. Empowered with that philosophy, the Bristol, England-bred artist banded together with musical comrades for his Hollywood Records debut, "Blowback."
Featuring a diverse assortment of high-profile guests that includes Live's Ed Kowalczyk, Alanis Morissette, Cyndi Lauper, and Red Hot Chili Peppers members Anthony Kiedis, Flea, and John Frusciante, "Blowback" demonstrates Tricky's growth as an artist, while also moving in a more accessible direction.
First single "Evolution Revolution Love," featuring Kowalczyk, debuted at No. 39 on Billboard's Modern Rock Tracks chart last week. Tricky will mount a full-scale North American tour later this year.
Following a hit album is no easy feat, but Lonestar refused to be intimidated by the success of its platinum-selling album "Lonely Grill" when it went into the studio to record "I'm Already There," due this week on BNA. The title track is in its second week at No. 1 on Billboard's Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart.
Indeed, according to Lonestar lead vocalist Richie McDonald, the success of "Lonely Grill," propelled by the multi-format hit "Amazed," provided a more comfortable platform from which to launch the band's new endeavor. "We felt pressure when we recorded 'Lonely Grill.' We had to do something," McDonald says of Lonestar's third album.
One perk the group gleaned from the last album's momentum was having its pick of Nashville's top songs. "That's another luxury when you have success on your previous album -- all the great writers in Nashville are definitely pitching you their 'A' songs," says McDonald, whose bandmates are guitarist Michael Britt, drummer Keach Rainwater, and keyboardist Dean Sams. "Unfortunately there are only 12 songs on an album. If not, we would have had 100 great songs on there. It was a tough selection process. You just narrow it down to those ones that you really feel passionate about."
So So Def/Columbia's Jagged Edge is definitely taking the adage "strike while the iron's hot" to heart. Still riding the momentum of its popular 2000 sophomore release "J.E. Heartbreak" -- which spawned three hit R&B singles, including "Let's Get Married" -- the male quartet is eagerly preparing for the release this week of "Jagged Little Thrill."
In fact, Jagged Edge finds itself in the uniquely enviable position of having three records on Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks chart simultaneously: "Promise" (from the Heartbreak album), "Puppy Love" (as featured guests on the Lil' Bow Wow-led song), and "Where the Party At," the new set's playful lead single that features rapper Nelly.
Highlights include Cut Somethin'" featuring Ludacris, "I Got It" featuring Trina, and "This Goes Out," with guest artists Big Duke and Tatu. Also of note is the midtempo track "Nothing Without You" and the emotional relationship ballads "Best Man" and "Head of This Household." The group is on the road with Mystikal, Jaheim, and City High through Aug. 6.
Additional titles hitting stores this week include pop act LFO's "Life Is Good" (J); R&B vocalist Res' "How I Do" (MCA); R&B act Beanie Sigel's "The Reason" (Roc-A-Fella/Def Jam); country artist Lil McCann's "Complete" (Warner Bros.); electronica veteran Q-Burns Abstract Message's "Invisible Airline" (Astralwerks); pop/R&B trio the Sugababes' "One Touch" (London/Sire); modern rock act Bliss 66's "Trip to the 13th" (Epic); country/rock act BR5-49's "This Is BR5-49" (Columbia); rapper Moochie Mack's "Broke Pimpin'" (Koch); pianist Brad Mehldau's "Art of the Trio Vol. 5: Evolution" (Warner Bros.); internationally renowned dance act Safri Duo's "Episode II" (MCA); and vocalist Patti Austin's "On the Way to Love" (Warner Bros.); and reissues of classic rock outfit Blue Oyster Cult's "Tyranny & Mutation," "Secret Treaties," "Blue Oyster Cult," and "Agents of Fortune" (Legacy).