News on LL Cool J, Maxwell, Busta Rhymes, Missy Elliott, Ja Rule, Violator, Q-Tip, Guided By Voices, Robert Pollard, Fantastic Plastic Machine

New music from LL Cool J, Maxwell, Busta Rhymes, and Missy Elliott with Ja Rule is due for inclusion on "Violator The Album: V2.0," the sequel to 1999's "Violator" compilation. That album debuted at No. 1 on Billboard's Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart, and sported Q-Tip's "Vivrant Thing," which reached the top-10 on Billboard's Hot Rap Singles and Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks charts. The album, due in July, will be the first fruit of entertainment company Violator's new distribution deal with Sony. Violator had been linked with Def Jam, now part of Universal's Island/Def Jam Music Group, since the early '90s. Other acts tapped to appear on "Violator The Album: V2.0" include Prodigy featuring Jadakiss, and JoJo Pellegrino.


Guided By Voices frontman Robert Pollard was on hand last night (March 20) at New York's Luna Lounge to preside over a listening party for his band's forthcoming album "Isolation Drills." The set is due April 3 on TVT; the band is already on the road and will stop in Milwaukee tomorrow night (March 22). "The album was originally called 'Broadcaster House,' but the last song to get cut was 'Isolation Drills,' and I liked that title," Pollard tells Billboard.com. "I thought, well, this record is kind of about what we do on a daily basis, and what we do to remedy the situation when we feel isolated or separated: we play rock, we write, and we drink. I thought it was more appropriate." In the meantime, eager fans can sample two album cuts -- "Chasing Heather Crazy" and first single "Glad Girls" -- via the band's official Web site. -- Jonathan Cohen, N.Y.

Japan's own inimitable Fantastic Plastic Machine will be one of the featured DJ acts appearing at the Winter Music Conference in Miami, which runs from March 24-28. "Beautiful," the third album from FPM -- which is actually DJ/composer/producer/writer Tomoyuki Tanaka -- was released on Jan. 17. FPM's first two albums were released on Readymade Records, but "Beautiful" marks a shift to the Avex Trax label, as well as a definite stylistic change. While Tanaka's previous efforts were triumphs of creative cutting-and-pasting of samples, "Beautiful" is a much more organic album, with greater emphasis placed on the contributions of a wide variety of guest musicians. Tanaka says he was trying to go for a "Philly soul" sound, and, to that end, several tracks were recorded at Sigma Sound in Philadelphia. "Beautiful" is due April 3 in North America on the Emperor Norton label and in Europe on Bungalow Records later this spring. -- Steve McClure, Tokyo