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Previewing new albums from the 'America: A Tribute to Heroes' telethon, De La Soul, Nate Dogg, and more.

A Time For 'Heroes'

BruceIn an unprecedented move, the five major music companies -- Bertelsmann Music Group (BMG), EMI, Sony Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group, and Warner Music Group -- are collaborating for the release this week of a not-for-profit double-disc CD set and DVD/VHS capturing the two-hour "America: a Tribute to Heroes" special. The show was staged Sept. 21 by the four major broadcast networks to raise funds for those affected by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

More than 50 musicians and celebrities donated their time and efforts to the commercial-free simulcast, which was broadcast in more than 210 countries and generated initial pledges of $150 million for the Sept. 11 Telethon Fund. The CD will feature 21 musical performances, including those by Bruce Springsteen, U2, Neil Young, Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder and Mike McCready, Alicia Keys, Celine Dion, and Willie Nelson. The DVD/VHS encompasses the entire event, including the between-song addresses from actors and celebrities.

For the CD and DVD releases, all five majors are suspending label exclusivity clauses for their artists and waiving all publishing fees for the release, allowing all profits to be donated to the Sept. 11 Telethon Fund.

'Bionic' Men

De La SoulIf De La Soul has learned anything in its 12 years in the music business, it's that nothing is certain. So when the Long Island, N.Y.-based trio (Dave, Posdnous, and Maseo) set out last year to craft its "Art Official Intelligence" (AOI) series on Tommy Boy Records -- with the intention of releasing three albums in the span of 18 months -- the threesome should have assumed it would be an arduous task.

But a year after releasing the series' first disc (subtitled "Mosaic Thump"), the trio is back with the second AOI installment, "AOI: Bionix," due this week. "This time [around] it was just about who complements the songs," Maseo says. "The featured guests are credible to us and credible to the songs. But it's not like they're the platinum acts who are selling today or are in the public eye."

The guests on "AOI: Bionix" include Cuban singer Pariquo Fernandez, Dave West, Slick Rick, and Goodie Mob's Cee-Lo. Spotlighted on the first single, "Baby Phat," is West Coast crooner Devin the Dude, which Dave calls "an ode to the women who aren't always remembered." The cut is No. 67 on Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles Sales chart. Look for De La Soul on the road with its Spitkicker tour in 2002.

'Music' Man

Nate DoggWest Coast hook master Nate Dogg has never strayed too far from the spotlight since "Regulate" -- the singer's 1994 hit with Warren G -- introduced a hip-hop nation already smitten with the laid-back feel of Dr. Dre-fashioned rap to the duo's even smoother G-funk sound.

The 32-year-old, Long Beach, Calif.-based singer (born Nathaniel Hale) has obliged many in the past year and prior to that -- guesting on tracks by Dre, Snoop Dogg, Master P, Kurupt, Fabolous, Ludacris, and others and making 16 appearances on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks chart during the past five years. These days, though, Nate's second solo effort -- the Elektra set "Music & Me" -- has his full attention.

Helping to support with production work are Dre, Bink!, Megahertz, Jermaine Dupri, "Fredwreck" Nassar, and others. Returning vocal favors on the 14-track set are Dre, Monch, Snoop, Fabolous, Ludacris, Kurupt, and Xzibit. The Eastsidaz and Lil' Mo also make appearances. "I really didn't even pick producers. I just picked beats, except for Dre -- he's the only producer I knew I wanted to work with," Nate says. "A lot of people just send me beats, and I pick the ones I like. See, once I said I was doing my album -- because I know everybody and their mama -- everybody just got in touch with me."

Additional titles hitting stores this week include:

-- rapper Fat Joe's "Jealous Ones Still Envy (J.O.S.E.)" (Atlantic)

-- hip-hop veterans Cypress Hill's "Stoned Raiders" (Columbia)

-- best-ofs from vocalist Mariah Carey, "Greatest Hits" (Columbia); Atlanta hip-hop duo Outkast, "Big Boi and Dre Present..." (Arista); and rapper Ice Cube, "Greatest Hits, Volume 1" (Priority)

-- a new album from vocalist Yolanda Adams, "Believe" (Elektra)

-- an album of remixes from hard rock act Limp Bizkit, "New Old Songs" (Flip/Interscope)

-- the soundtrack to the film "Not Another Teen Movie" (Maverick), featuring covers of '80s favorites by Marilyn Manson, Goldfinger, Scott Weiland, and Smashing Pumpkins

-- an album from progressive rock act Yes, "Magnification" (Beyond)

-- a gospel compilation from Sean "P. Diddy" Combs and Hezekiah Walker, "Thank You" (Bad Boy/Arista)

-- rap duo Mack 10's "Bang or Ball" (Cash Money/Universal)

-- the various artists Amnesty International benefit compilation "Buddha Bar Presents Amnesty International 40th Anniversary" (George V/Musicrama), featuring tracks from Sarah Brightman and Mo' Horizons

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