Billboard Bits: Shaq/Kobe, Lee Roy Parnell, Slick Rick
News on Shaquille O'Neal, Kobe Bryant, Lee Roy Parnell, and Slick Rick.Heads High Entertainment, a label founded by CEO Jerrod Washington and L.A. Lakers basketball player Kobe Bryant, is putting together an all-star cover of Kool & the Gang's "Cherish" to benefit the victims of school violence and their families. Billboard Bulletin reports that the single -- to be issued in September -- will feature Bryant and fellow Laker Shaquille O'Neal, plus Nas, Snoop Dogg, Ludacris, Next, Xzibit, and new Heads High artist Uneek, among others.
-- Rashaun Hall, N.Y.
Country singer/songwriter/guitarist Lee Roy Parnell takes a bigger step into blues territory with "Tell the Truth." Due June 12 via Vanguard, the 10-track album was recorded at the famed Muscle Shoals (Ala.) Sound Studios, and features guest appearances by contemporary blues guitarist Keb' Mo', singer Bonnie Bramlett, Texas blues/rock guitarist Delbert McClinton, and the Mississippi Mass Choir.
"Tell the Truth" is Parnell's first album for the Vanguard label after recording six sets for Arista's Nashville division over the course of 11 years. The artist will hit the road for a handful of dates in support of the release, beginning June 23 in Tuscumbia, Ala. Prior to that run, he'll play two shows May 25-26 in Memphis, Tenn., the latter as part of the Blues Aid benefit, as well as a June 9 stop at the Chicago Blues Festival.
-- Barry A. Jeckell, N.Y.
Hip-hop legend Slick Rick is seeking undiscovered talent to serve as a guest producer on his upcoming Def Jam album. Interested producers can go to the StreetLabs Web site, login, and upload beats for the next three months. Rick's last album, 1999's "The Art of Storytelling," debuted at No. 8 on The Billboard 200. The set has sold 578,000 copies in the U.S., according to SoundScan.