4/24/09 Kirk Franklin
Fighting the fight has turned out to be a good thing for gospel music sensation Kirk Franklin. During the 40th annual GMA Dove Awards, the platinum-selling pint-size holy roller's latest opus, 'The Fight of My Life,' won the award for urban album of the year. Considered the "biggest night in gospel music," the Dove Awards is the longest running and most prestigious televised ceremony recognizing achievement in all genres of Christian and gospel music. Some of the industry's biggest acts came out for the event, which took place at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tenn., on April 23. According to Franklin's longtime publicist, Gwendolyn Quinn, this is the singer's 13th Dove Award honor.
Fellow Wu-Tang Clan rhyme slinger Raekwon has finally found a home with EMI Music to release his long-awaited, highly-anticipated album 'Only Built 4 Cuban Linx 2' this summer. "The wait is finally over," he said in a statement. "Words cannot describe how extremely happy I am to work with EMI Music to put out my album." The album, which is the followup to Rae's 1995 classic solo debut, will feature collaborations by Dr. Dre, RZA, J Dilla, Jadakiss, Busta Rhymes, Bun B, and The Game among others.
4/21/09: Smokie Norful
Gospel music dynamo Smokie Norful has a reason to smile. The Little Rock, Ark., native's latest project is the top-selling gospel album in the country. The 'Live' opus debuted at number one on Billboard's Top Gospel Albums chart this week – netting the Grammy Award winner his second chart-topping debut and third number one project. "Smokie's hard work, talent and commitment to the ministry shine through on his new album," stated Ken Pennell, president of EMI Gospel, who released the project last week. 'Live' was recorded in front of a standing room audience at the Cannon Center in Memphis, Tenn. The 10-track CD was produced by Norful and Jason Tyson and includes guest performances by Tony Award winner Heather Headley and Stellar Award winner Tye Tribbett.
4/21/09: Kanye West
With his debut Nike shoe, "The Air Yeezy," in stores, Kanye West is looking to capitalize off his new endorsement with a cameo in this year's NBA playoffs. West's latest single, 'Amazing,' with rapper Young Jeezy is featured in a new NBA playoffs commercial promoting this year's slogan: "Where amazing happens." Recently, West and Jeezy wrapped up shooting the single's video in Hawaii, which was directed by Hype Williams.
4/21/09: Keyshia Cole
R&B-singer-turned-reality-star Keyshia Cole is gearing up for yet another tour in support of her latest album, 'A Different Me.' Beginning May 13 in Cincinnati, Cole, alongside singer-songwriter Keri Hilson, The Dream, and Bobby Valentino, will hit the road for a 20-city trek. For Cole, connecting with fans through touring is the "most intimate" aspect of her career. "The most gratifying thing for me in show business is having the ability to be intimate with my fans. Singing directly to them is the most intimate thing I can do," she said in a statement. 'A Different Me' tour ends June 20 in Los Angeles.
As T.I. prepares to serve his one-year sentence on May 19 for felony weapons charges, he also has plans to re-release his platinum-selling album 'Paper Trail.' 'MTV News' reports the Grammy Award-winning rapper will include five new songs, including collaborations with The Dream, Ciara and a unreleased verse from Kanye West. A release date for the project was not revealed at press time.
4/21/09: Black Eyed Peas
Back by popular demand, Grammy Award-winning group the Black Eyed Peas have finally released their latest single, 'Boom Boom Pow,' from their forthcoming album, 'The E.N.D.' According to group member Fergie, the song is "kind of to the left" for a first single, which she says transcended into the concept for the video's single. "The concept is the Peas' birth into the digital afterlife," she recently told 'MTV News.' "So the transformation is us going into a sort of birth or cocoon and coming out the other end as forms of energy. It's a parallel to the music industry. Now everything is downloaded." 'The E.N.D' (The Energy Never Dies) is set to hit stores in June.
4/21/09: LeToya Luckett
Former Destiny's Child member LeToya Luckett is readying the release of her sophomore solo album, 'Lady Love,' on June 23. True to the album's title, Luckett focuses on the many aspects of love and relationships expressed from a woman's point of view -- a topic contrary to her 2006 debut. "The first album was more about getting adjusted to being solo and finding my lane," Luckett explained to the 'Hollywood Reporter.' "It's still about soulful feel-good music. However, I didn't want to be stuck in a comfort zone. I wanted to be freer, more daring vocally and lyrically, to reflect the situations I've experienced."
Despite being on hiatus for few years, Harlem-bred MC Cam'ron is set to make his return to the hip-hop scene next month with his new album, 'Crime Pays.' The former Dipset front man recently revealed to Billboard that he's taking advantage of the World Wide Web to help generate interest for the project. "The idea was to put out a video every week to warm people up to the album," he said. "I didn't care about putting out singles. I just wanted people to know the album was coming. That's what I love about the Internet. Instead of having to wait on radio to play your song or TV to play your video, I can use the Internet as a tool to get my music out earlier." 'Crime Pays,' which features 'I Used to Get It in Ohio' and 'Cookies and Apple Juice,' hit stores May 12 via Asylum Records.
4/21/09: Sean "Diddy" Combs
Multifaceted media mogul Sean "Diddy" Combs recently landed an upcoming role in 'Get Him to the Greek.' The Nicholas Stoller-directed film, which also stars Russell Brand, finds Combs playing the role of Sergio, a record label executive, while Brand plays an out-of-control rock star named Aldous Snow. 'Get Him to the Greek' is scheduled to hit theaters next year.