Fireworks are happening everywhere this week — can T.I. bring some to the record racks, too? With the competition at a bare minimum, the rapper is trying to get his ego crisis under control so he can Tip the charts and blow away the contenders. They include Velvet Revolver, who are firing off a new release of their own this week; Kelly Rowland, who gave her fresh material some shine (with help from Eve) at the BET Awards; and Silverstein, whose label has just slightly high expectations for the band's new LP. Let the festivities begin ...
Who Is This Man?: T.I. vs. T.I.P. revolves around the rapper's dueling identities, but he/they are hardly the only ones trying to sort things out on the LP — Eminem, Jay-Z, Nelly, Busta Rhymes, Mannie Fresh and Wyclef Jean are also onboard for the 18-track outing. (Sad news for fans: Slices with Justin Timberlake, Ciara and others didn't make the final cut.) Warner Music Group CEO Lyor Cohen is also spotted on the three-act disc, playfully warning Tip not to mess with his money, but it's not all fun and games — early in the album, the rapper reflects on his daughter's miscarriage and the shooting of a friend.
Bang Bang Baby: It hasn't all been smooth sailing for Velvet Revolver — the band scrapped a concept-album concept for its second disc and changed producer plans too when Brendan O'Brien took the helm instead of Rick Rubin. "We really kind of flat-lined for a while," Scott Weiland told Billboard. All the same, fans can scream for Libertad, now that it's arrived three years after its predecessor, Contraband. The latter LP opened at #1 on the Billboard albums chart — but so did T.I.'s last one, King. VR's new single "She Builds Quick Machines" hasn't been doing terribly well at rock radio, but maybe their head-scratching cover of Electric Light Orchestra's "Can't Get It Out of My Head" will attract some more curious buyers and help the disc debut with a bang.
Cirque de Rock: VR drummer Matt Sorum has been slapping some extra skins this year — he played on the first effort by Circus Diablo, which features other current and past members of the Cult — Billy Duffy and Billy Morrison — as well as Fuel's Brett Scallions and the Almighty's Ricky Warwick. (Tying everything together, Sorum and Weiland are in another Morrison project, Camp Freddy.) Songs include "Red Sun Rising," "Mad Parade" and "Commercial Break."
Dear Ms. Kelly: With testosterone dominating this week, don't forget about Ms. Kelly — Ms. Kelly Rowland, that is. She might have some trouble planting her second album in people's brains, though — the follow-up to 2002's Simply Deep was supposed to come out last year but got shelved and reworked. Here it is at last, and Eve ("Like This"), Tank ("The Show") and Snoop Dogg ("Ghetto") are propping up the former Destiny's Child singer with guest spots. Look for a ringtone, cell phone wallpaper, a digital track download and more to accompany the release.
Andre the Giant: As huge as Andre 3000's reputation is, you might have trouble finding him in the racks this week — he sneaks up on the soundtrack to "Class of 3000," the animated series he created and produced. Andre can be heard on the disc via the voice of Sunny Bridges, the music teacher, although all the tunes on the set were actually written by Mr. Benjamin — yup, even "The Crayon Song," "UFO Ninja," "Oh Peanut" and "Banana Zoo."
Silver and Bold: In what has to be one of the ballsier hype sheets in recent memory, Victory Records declares outright: "Silverstein will debut in the top 10 on Billboard's top 200 on July 11." The Canadian post-hardcore act did manage to get rid of more than 300,000 copies of its last album, Discovering the Waterfront, and it sided with Blink-182 producer Mark Trombino for the follow-up, Arrivals and Departures. The album, which leaked a couple of weeks ago, features "The Sand Will Turn to Glass," "Vanity and Greed" and "Love With Caution"; the Best Buy edition has a couple of goodies too: "Rain Will Fall" and "Falling Down." Don't tell Michael Douglas!
Watch Out: If the record racks are too bare for you this week, turn on your computer — there's a bit going on in the digital sphere. Tom Morello — oops, the Nightwatchman — is tacking "Alone Without You," a tune featured in pal Michael Moore's new "Sicko" flick, onto his recently released debut, One Man Revolution. "Sick 'cause this hammering litany of sins/ Is bangin' and burnin' and I can't stand the din," he sings on the track, which is told from the viewpoint of a dying man. "Sick 'cause the darkness keeps seepin' on in/ Sick to be leaving my family and friends." Also floating around online is Sedated Times, a seven-track EP by Norwegian experimentalists 120 Days. The set consists of "So This Is Suicide," "Sleepless Nights #11" and a bonus tune, "Come Out Come Down Fade Out Be Gone," reconstructed by Secret Machines.
Song Title of the Week:
"Tomorrow's Another Day" from Collie Buddz
Album Cover of the Week:
· Sara Bareilles - Little Voice (Epic)
· Circus Diablo - Circus Diablo (Koch)
· Collie Buddz - Collie Buddz (Epic)
· Damien Dempsey - To Hell or Barbados (United Opportunity)
· Erik Mongrain - Fates (MVD Audio)
· Kelly Rowland - Ms. Kelly (Columbia) [Buy Now]
· Marvin Sapp - Thirsty (Verity)
· Silverstein - Arrivals and Departures (Victory) [Buy Now]
· T.I. - T.I. vs. T.I.P. (Atlantic) [Buy Now]
· Twiztid - Independent's Day (Psychopathic) [Buy Now]
· Velvet Revolver - Libertad (RCA) [Buy Now]
· Various artists - "Class of 3000" soundtrack (La Face) [Buy Now]
· Various artists - "Talk to Me" soundtrack (Atlantic)
· Various artists - "Transformers" soundtrack (Warner Bros.)
Notable Reissues and Archival Material:
· 2Pac - Evolution: Duets and Remixes (Koch)
· The Climax Blues Band - 20 Greatest Hits (Fuel)
· John Coltrane - My Favorite Things: Coltrane at Newport (Impulse) [Buy Now]
· Joe Ely - Honky Tonk Masquerade and Joe Ely (CBuJ) [Buy Now]
· Widespread Panic - Choice Cuts: The Capricorn Years - 1991-1999 (Capricorn/Legacy)
· Various artists - Cobra Record Corp. - Treasures From the Vaults (Fuel)
· 120 Days - Sedated Times (EP; Vice)
· The Nightwatchman - One Man Revolution (re-released with a bonus track; Epic) [Buy Now]
· Aly & AJ - Insomniatic (Hollywood) [Preorder]
· Interpol - Our Love to Admire (special edition packaged in hard-covered book form due same day; Capitol) [Preorder]
· Mike Jones - The American Dream (Ice Age) [Preorder]
· Smashing Pumpkins - Zeitgeist (Reprise) [Preorder]
· Spoon - Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga (Merge) [Preorder]
· All-American Rejects - "Tournado" DVD (Interscope) [Preorder]
· Avenged Sevenfold - "All Excess" DVD (Warner Bros.) [Preorder]
· Too Short - I Love the Bay (Up All Nite) [Preorder]
· Yellowcard - Paper Walls (deluxe edition with DVD due same day; Capitol) [Preorder]
· Various artists - Now That's What I Call Music! 25 (UTV)
· Cartel - Cartel (Epic) [Preorder]
· Sum 41 - Underclass Hero (Island) [Preorder]
· Tegan and Sara - Con (deluxe edition with DVD due same day; Vapor/Sanctuary) [Preorder]