The video for Cheri Dennis’ new single ‘Portrait of Love’ kinda premiered yesterday. I say ‘kinda’, as I actually managed to catch the vid last week (thanks Kevin!), however Atlantic Records took it down and kept it on lock and key until the official premiere last night. Anyway, enough with the rambling…

About the video, it’s awesome! After some ten or so years of Cheri being on Bad Boy Diddy finally hooked her up – everything from the video’s budget to it’s concept to the choreography was on point. Great stuff.

Cheri’s debut album ‘In And Out Of Love’ (a very solid effort) is available now on iTunes. The physical version of the LP – which may feature newer tracks – will hit stores in February of next year.

What do you think of the video?

It appears the controversy surrounding the women in Usher’s life has simmered following the birth of his son earlier this week. News of spats between his mom Jonnetta Patton and wife Tameka Foster has rampant for months, however Patton had nothing but good things to say when speaking to PEOPLE magazine about the new addition to the family:

I’m extremely excited and filled with joy about the birth of my grandson, Usher Raymond V,” Patton says. “He is beautiful, precious, healthy and such a blessing. I’m very happy for my son and his wife. God has truly blessed them with a special gift. This will be an amazing holiday season for all of us.”

The jokes kinda write themselves here lol, I mean with Tameka being ‘sorted’ for life now; but for real, I’m happy for them. Hopefully Usher can concentrate on dropping that long-awaited album now.

Your thoughts?
According to Billboard, Janet Jackson’s as-yet-untitled Def Jam debut has been confirmed for a February 2008 release. Jackson is also said to be prepping a worldwide tour in support of the album – the follow-up to 2006’s Platinum certified ’20 Y.O’. As previously reported, label honcho L.A. Reid will be at the helm of the project, as opposed to boyfriend Jermaine Dupri.
All this comes on the heels of the news that the ‘Rhythm Nation’ singer has signed a lucrative deal with powerhouse PR firm William Morris for representation in all areas (‘including film, touring, licensing and merchandising, television, theater, publishing and new technology’).
It’s good to see things falling into place for what will be a very important album for Janet (in terms of her selling power). With Janet’s label mate Mariah Carey set to drop her album in the same period, it’ll be interesting to see how things are handled with both projects.

Do you think Janet can hit it big again?

Chart topper Alicia Keys’ appearance on the Tyra Show aired yesterday (November 26th). The singer discussed, among other things, the pressures of non-stop work and being near depression as well as how she found herself again. It was a really good interview. Alicia also gave great performances of the first two singles from the album ‘No One’ and ‘Like You’ll Never See Me Again’. Check out the performances below:

No One

Like You’ll Never See Me Again

What do you think of the interview/performances?

According to MTV News, Nas’ controversial forthcoming album ‘N*gger’ has been pushed back from it’s December release and will now hit stores in February next year – Black History Month in the US. Check out the report:

Nas had originally planned to put the project out next month, but according to his camp, the album has been pushed to February: Black History Month. Nas told MTV News the first single will drop sometime in January.

I can see that he’s trying to drive his point home, but this has potential to have even more of a backlash than it already has. I’m not so sure it’s a wise move on Nas’ part.

Will you be checking for Nas’ ‘N*gger’ album?
Following the news earlier this month that the legendary Jackson 5 would possibly be reforming for a tour, Jermaine Jackson has gone on record to confirm that the brothers are set to hit the road in 2008 – with Michael. Check out the report via Yahoo Music:

The Jackson 5 will tour in 2008 with Michael Jackson, according to his brother Jermaine.

Rumours about a possible reunion of the pop legends has been rife for some time, culminating in claims from promoter Leonard Rowe recently that live dates were being planned.

Jermaine Jackson has now given the clearest indication yet that the comeback is on and will take place next year, featuring their most famous member.

“Michael will be involved. We want to tour. We want to touch the lives of everybody who’s bought our records and supported us.

“It will probably start here first, but it will be sometime in 2008. That’s our plan”, he told the BBC in a new interview.

Discussing Michael’s acquittal on child sex offences in 2005, Jermaine said the five-piece are now “stronger than ever” and “owe” the fans who have supported them through thick and thin.

I’m really looking forward to this. Here’s hoping something eventually comes from all the ‘talking about a reunion’.

Do you think a Jackson 5 comeback tour would work?
In an interview with The Sydney Morning Herald soulful singer Jill Scott detailed a recent incident where she was called a ‘n*gger’ and how she dealt with it:

“I was waiting outside for the valet to bring the car round, and these … I say kids, but they must have been 25, looking wealthy, five-o’clock-in-the-morning wasted. And this guy’s saying, ‘Step back nigger, step back nigger.’ He’s saying it like it’s a song, but there’s nobody out there but me. I was taken aback, and I said, ‘Excuse me?’

And he said, ‘Shut your mouth and don’t say a word when a white man is talking.’

“I’m not kidding. I started laughing, and I followed him and his cohorts through the parking lot laughing hysterically, and they became more and more uncomfortable. It was one of the best moments of outrageous laughter I’ve had. To think for one moment I could possibly fit into that box … I am so far from that word that it is funny. They looked so uncomfortable; I wanted to emasculate him, to make sure he was getting no nookie that night. The girls sobered up and were looking scared. It was something else – the first time in my life I’ve been called that. Wow. But I enjoyed it. You must fight back; it’s imperative. I like the fight in me now.”

I agree with her ‘fight back’ conclusion. It’s baffling that even in today’s society, racial discrimination still exists. SMH…

Any thoughts?

A new Mya track has surfaced from her ill-fated (unreleased) 2005 album ‘Control Freak’. The interestingly titled track ‘Shake It (Like A Dog), features rapper Jim Jones. I’m feeling the song a lot; Mya’s ‘in your face delivery’ as well as the production are on-point. However, it’s the song’s lyrics that let it down IMO. There’s something not quite right about her likening herself to a dog?? Still, lyrics aside, it’s a good track (better than much of ‘Liberation’) and it makes me wonder what other hidden gems were shelved when the album was scrapped.
Hit or Miss?
Link Removed As Requested

This week’s ‘From The Vault’ video is En Vogue’s 1996 mega-hit ‘Dont’ Let Go’. Arguably one of group’s career defining songs, the video also marked the last time the girls would appear as a quartet. Lead singer Dawn Robinson left shortly after the track was released in 1997 due to negotiations to keep her place as a member – whilst embarking on a solo career – falling through:

Timeless. The track’s powerful lyrics and even better delivery made this a classic for me. It’s a shame Dawn left when she did, as neither she or the group managed to reach the same level of success (or anywhere near) again. Who knows how much further their legacy would have carried on to?

Bonus: ‘Don’t Let Go’ (w/o Dawn) (Live On Saturday Night Live)

Your thoughts?

After much uncertainty, Kelly Rowland has embarked on a North American tour in support of her ‘Ms. Kelly’ album. That Grape Juice reader Brice attended the Philadelphia show at the House of Blues; check out their review of the show:

Kelly Killed it…………It was a little short but Kelly worked it out. She did a mix of songs from Work, Stole, Cant Nobody, Comeback, This Is Love, Like This, Bad Habit, and DC3 stuff like Say My Name, Survivor, Bug A Boo, Soldier and Bootylicious. The show was wonderful (and) during the song This Is Love Kelly broke down a little and told us that she was thankful for having a loving crowd like us and that for a while recently she didn’t know if she wanted to sing anymore and that her love for the music was burning again.

It’s good to know that Kelly is pressing on and isn’t letting the negativity force her out of the limelight. Saying that, it’s times like this that make me wonder how genuine talent like Kelly can be so overlooked in favour of some of the mediocre artists that populate the music scene at the moment. Hopefully things look up for Kelly soon….

{Click pics to enlarge}

Any thoughts?
The 2007 World Music Awards were held earlier this month in Monte Carlo. R&B stars Ciara and Rihanna performed at the event. Check out their performances below:

Ciara (ft. 50 Cent) – ‘Can’t Leave Em’ Alone’ 

Rihanna – ‘Umbrella’

I actually enjoyed both performances. Ciara’s vocals were on-point throughout and Rihanna did her thing too.

What do you think of the performances?
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R&B star Alicia Keys features on the cover of the latest issue of Entertainment Weekly. With the news of her record-breaking first week numbers, there really seems to be no stopping Alicia. more power to her…

What do you think of the cover?