Billboard Bits: Jessica Simpson, Dragon Fest, Incubus

News on Jessica Simpson's new album, Cypress Hill festival, Incubus new video

Jessica Simpson is wrapping up her sophomore effort for Columbia Records, tentatively slated for a March 20 release. The album will feature production work by Rodney Jerkins and balladmeister Walter Afanasieff. Simpson describes some of the material as "Mariah Carey meets Britney Spears ... very mature but accessible to teens."

Simpson is unabashedly partial to the two tunes written for the set by her boyfriend, 98 Degrees' Nick Lachey. "They're so incredibly beautiful," she says, beaming with pride. "They just take your breath away." The set is the follow-up to her Columbia debut, which peaked at No. 25 on The Billboard 200 last August and has sold nearly 1.6 million copies in the U.S., according to SoundScan.

-- Melinda Newman, L.A.

Following the success of the annual Smokeout festival, B-Real of Cypress Hill is again teaming with Insider Magazine to present the Dragon Festival 2001 Spring Music Ritual. The Feb. 3 event at the National Orange Show Events Center in San Bernadino, Calif., will boast 22 acts performing in celebration of the Chinese New Year.

Among the artists on the bill are Cypress Hill, the Jungle Brothers, Linkin Park, the Beastie Boys' Mixmaster Mike, X-ecutioners, Kottonmouth Kings, Beatnuts, Taproot, and Blackalicious. Traditional Chinese New Year festivities, such as fireworks and performing acrobats, will also be part of the Dragon Festival.

Last year's third annual Smokeout fest drew over 60,000 people.

-- Derrick Mathis, L.A.

Incubus singer Brandon Boyd and drummer Jose Pasillas contributed animation artwork to the video for the band's latest single, "Drive." The duo, accomplished artists who studied art in college while the band was still developing, logged more than 50 hours each creating animated cels for the project. The video was directed by Phil Harder, who did the same for the band's last single, "Stellar."

"I've always been fascinated with experimental animation and this video gave me a chance to bring together my passion for music and drawing," Boyd said of the task. The band will perform the song Feb. 3 on Fox' "Mad TV."

"Drive" peaked at No. 4 on Billboard's Modern Rock Tracks tally last week, and is at No. 8 this week on the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart. The band's Epic album, "Make Yourself," peaked at No. 47 on The Billboard 200 in September and is certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association Of America.


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