NEW YORK — Will the real new Rat Pack please stand up? First P. Diddy and Ashton Kutcher staked the claim of being the new "It" team, but as Mr. Biggs Ron Isley will tell you, he has a tandem of playas down with him that can turn heads too.
"We got a little team going — Nelly, R. Kelly and maybe Russell Simmons," Mr. Biggs said last week. "It's like the Rat Pack back in the day of [Frank Sinatra], Sammy Davis and Dean Martin."
With the exception of Simmons, Isley's squad will be contributing to the new Isley Brothers LP, which the most popular sibling hopes to have out by July. And even though Mr. Biggs won't be singing with the godfather of hip-hop, he has plans to get in the lab with a producing pioneer.
"I'm in the studio with R. Kelly," Isley said of the new project. "I'm gonna do some stuff with Nelly and Dr. Dre. I've never worked with Dre. Nelly and I did something on his last album, but we gonna really get deep into it this year. [Nelly] is a true artist that has the staying power. It's coming unbelievable."
Besides his group project, Isley said he's open to recording a second volume of his 2003 collaborative album with Burt Bacharach, Isley Meets Bacharach. However, the music staple has a couple of business ventures that will occupy his time in between albums.
Isley said he wants to open a House of Hip-Hop and R&B before year's end, which he said will be similar to the House of Blues, because they will be part restaurant, part entertainment venue. The first one is slated for his native St. Louis, with Houses in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles to follow in the future if everything goes smoothly. Then there's his clothing line, the Ronald Isley Fur Collection. Yes, you too can wear a pimped-out fur over your basketball jersey like Mr. Biggs does in the video for "Busted."
"Basically, we wear a lot of furs on our album covers, and Mr. Biggs is a character that throws on the mink coat," he explained. "He's supposed to be the hottest dresser, and the people love that. They look to me for the different clothing styles. The fans come up and say, 'Hey, man, you wore this in a video, where can I get that?' From that I said, 'Hey man, maybe I need to design the things I wear.' "
Besides fur coats, Isley will be putting out chinchilla bikinis, which come in red, pink and yellow. His products range from $800 to $20,000 and will debut at Las Vegas' Magic Fashion Trade show in February.