For The Record: Quick News On Ja Rule, Ashanti, The Cult, Tenacious D, Buffalo Tom, Bob Dylan & More

Ja Rule, Ashanti, Fat Joe, Musiq and the Roots are bolstering the roster of LIFEbeat’s Urban Aid 2 benefit show, set for April 9 at New York City’s Beacon Theater. Jay-Z, P. Diddy, Alicia Keys and host Jamie Foxx were previously announced for the event, which aims to raise funds and awareness for HIV prevention initiatives. … Hardcore fans of the Cult — or of odd musical ephemera in general — should note that a 5-CD, 67-track box set of their demos is in the works. Rare Cult: The Demo Sessions will be issued in an edition of 5,000 and initially offered through the Beggars Banquet Web site (www.beggars.com). …

Bob Dylan, Elvis Costello, Tom Waits, Brian Wilson and Nick Lowe have all written new songs for an upcoming album by soul legend Solomon Burke. Burke, who wrote hits such as “Everybody Needs Somebody to Love,” “Cry to Me” and “Down in the Valley” and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame last year, has influenced each of these artists. … Boston rockers Buffalo Tom have compiled Besides, a collection of, yes, B-sides (and a companion to 2000′s Asides) for release on May 21. The album features covers of the Velvet Underground‘s “All Tomorrow’s Parties,” Bob Dylan’s “She Belongs to Me,” Teenage Fanclub‘s “Guiding Star” and George Harrison‘s “Wah Wah.” …

In a natural extension of its annual Warped Tour, Vans sportswear is launching its own indie label, Vans Records, with Pennywise frontman Jim Lindberg at the helm. The company plans to make the most of relationships built during Warped outings to help amplify its ranks. … Congratulations to Offspring bassist Greg K and his wife, Jane, on the birth of their second son, Matthew David. Their first offspring, Michael, was born in 1999. … Video auteur and “All About the Benjamins” director Kevin Bray, who’s helmed clips for Whitney Houston (“It’s Not Right, But It’s Okay”), Brandy (“Almost Doesn’t Count”), Savage Garden (“I Knew I Loved You”) and Ben Folds Five (“Brick”), will develop and direct a remake of the French actioner “Taxi,” according to the Hollywood Reporter. Its producer, Luc Besson (“The Fifth Element”), wrote the 1998 original. …

03.12.02

Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl will return to his place behind the drumkit when he backs up portly powerhouses Tenacious D on an episode of “Mad TV” that is set to air on April 27. Grohl and the D performed the dynamic duo’s latest single, “Tribute,” with a full band at Friday’s taping, just hours before the busy bee played session drummer for another of his favorite bands, Queens of the Stone Age, while they previewed tracks from their upcoming Songs for the Deaf during a one-off showcase at L.A.’s Troubadour. … Ja Rule, Mary J. Blige and Brandy are among the artists who have contributed items to an auction to raise money for BET’s AIDS awareness campaign, Rap-It-Up. The auction, at www.bet.com/rapitup, begins March 18, the same day public service announcements from Ja Rule begin airing on the network. (MTV’s parent company, Viacom, also owns BET.) …

Love Songs for New York, a compilation of previously unreleased tracks about the Big Apple from Moby (“Memory Gospel”), Cornershop (“Returning From the Wreckage”), Afrikaa Bambaataa (a cover of Melanie‘s “Lay Down [Candles in the Rain]“), the Mekons (“I Heart an Apple”) and 14 others, is being offered by Village Voice Media (www.villagevoice.com). All proceeds will benefit the September 11 fund. … In other Moby news, he will compete against Madonna, Pink, Jennifer Lopez and Kim English for the Best Chart Act at the DanceStar USA Awards on March 24 at the Winter Music Conference in Miami. The Crystal Method, Basement Jaxx, Fatboy Slim, Daft Punk, BT, Chemical Brothers and Paul Oakenfold are nominated in other categories. …

The Big Tymers — Cash Money CEO Brian “Baby” Williams and producer Mannie Fresh — will release their fourth album, Hood Rich, on April 30. “Still Fly,” described by their spokesperson as “a celebration of ghetto fabulous,” will be the first single. … Korn and Limp Bizkit producer Ross Robinson and his I Am Recordings imprint have moved from Virgin Records to Artistdirect Records. Robinson will continue to handle A&R activity, talent development and studio production for the imprint, which was housed with Roadrunner Records before it went to Virgin. … Come late summer, Ozzfest vets Taproot plan to have a new Gift for their fans. They’re in the studio working on the follow-up to their 2000 breakthrough, which is tentatively titled Welcome.

British electronic outfit Zero 7 will kick off their first North American tour April 15 in Philadelphia. The month-long outing, which will feature an 11-piece band, ends May 5 in Portland. … Australian neo-grunge band Silverchair canceled a March 16 appearance at the Gone South festival in Hobart, Australia, since frontman Daniel Johns contracted a rare virus that attacked his joints and caused severe swelling to his knees. While the singer has suffered from the condition since Christmas, doctors expect him to make a full recovery. … Nappy Roots and Course of Nature will join Jamie Kennedy and other stars of the WB Network on a 10-show tour to promote the station’s programming. WB on Tour kicks off April 1 in Los Angeles and wraps up April 18 in Atlanta. … Lo-fi faves Elf Power will release their fifth album, Creatures, on May 7 through SpinART. … New Yorkers can usher in St. Patrick’s Day with the help of the inimitable Shane McGowan and the Popes on March 16 at the Roseland Ballroom. The group’s Across the Broad Atlantic, which captures their 2001 St. Paddy’s gigs in New York and Dublin, was released last month.