Hot on the heels of new releases from such established superstars as Janet Jackson and Mariah Carey, Virgin Records America is releasing seven key albums from developing artists the label hopes will follow in those multi-platinum footsteps.
Ranging an eclectic musical spectrum from Pop-R&B to Urban-Alternative Rock to World Music, these artists reflect Virgin’s commitment to unique yet accessible music for which the label has become known.
Forming the all-star rookie line-up are:
Nikka Costa – All ears piqued when Tommy Hilfiger’s slick commercial hit TV screens last year, featuring that funky, rhythmic bassline from Nikka’s debut single “Like A Feather.” The commercial has since gone, but now the world knows Virgin’s premier funk soul sister is who made everyone ask, “whose record is that???” Via Virgin’s affiliation with Cheeba Sound, Nikka delivers “Everybody Got Their Something,” an album whose range is matched only by the tight musicianship bringing it to life. And live is an essential element of the Nikka Costa experience. To see Nikka live is to know her, to love her, and to never forget her.
N*E*R*D – N*E*R*D is more than just a band. It’s a musical movement: an amalgamation of sound and style, a mesh of hip-hop beats and black psychedelic pop and classic rock and new wave. It’s a musical class by itself. Formed by the Neptunes, the hottest producers in the record business today – during one week this past May, the team had credits on 25 of the top40 songs on US radio – N*E*R*D brings the limitless vision of Pharrell, Chad and Shay to life via “In Search Of…,” their debut album. The single “Lapdance” is a perfect example of the genre-blurring style of N*E*R*D; the track is now getting played on both urban and alternative rock radio stations. Look for the Neptunes production touch once again when Virgin releases the sophomore effort from Kelis in September.
Gorillaz – Led by great press (inc. a three-star Rolling Stone review – “it stands alone as a playful piece of genre-squishing art pop”), a terrific radio story (highlighted by Top Five phones on KROQ in early June), tremendous MTV2 support (peaking at Number Four with 35 spins), and a recent “Buzzworthy” add to MTV, Gorillaz have busted loose and broken through. The album debuts this week at an amazing Number 39 on the Billboard Top 200, fueled by the hit single “Clint Eastwood,” which is destined to be the single (and video) of the summer. The album, released on June 19, was produced by Deltron 3030 mastermind Dan the Automator, and features guest appearances by an eclectic array of musicians, inc. Blur’s Damon Albarn, Tina Weymouth, and Miho Hatori, among others.
Bathgate – Already acknowledged by Rolling Stone as one of the “Cool Hip-Hop Singles of the Year” (April 12, 2001), Bathgate’s “Dear Rich America, My Story To You” is the remarkable debut from this 21-year-old rapper from Harlem, NY. What distinguishes him from the rest of his peers, however, is not only his unique rapping style, but also an amazing ability for songwriting. Bathgate tells his story of living in America through his words and his songs. Matched with an ability to rock the mic, Bathgate has garnered the attention of many established rap stars including Puff Daddy, who enlisted Bath’s songwriting abilities, and Roc-A-Fella’s Memphis Bleek, DJ Clue, Just Blaze, and Trina, all of whom lent their skills to this remarkable debut album. His debut single, “F*** That,” was Number One Most Added at College radio during the first week of June. His album will be released this Fall.
Tank – After touring with Ginuwine and Aaliyah, this smooth R&B/soul singer was tapped for a deal of his own by Blackground Records father-and-son team Barry and Jomo Hankerson. Their in-studio mentoring produced a true “force” to be reckoned with: on March 31, Tank’s debut album “Force Of Nature” debuted at Number One on Billboard’s Top R&B Albums chart, and at Number Seven on its Top 200 Albums chart. The album is already gold and closing in fast on platinum. With his debut single “Maybe I Deserve,” the Blackground/Virgin singer puts his modern touch on the sexy, soulful style of classic R&B, and blasts onto the music scene as a force to himself.
Afro Celt Sound System – One of the most eclectic and innovative artists on our Real World label, if not the entire Virgin roster, the critically acclaimed Afro Celts paint a multi-cultural, musical landscape with their acoustic-based sound. Their initial two releases – “Volume 1: Sound Magic” and “Volume 2: Release” have sold a combined 500,000 copies worldwide, and their third release “Volume 3: Further In Time,” was released on June 19. Featuring Gaelic and African sounds, the album also contains the voice of Peter Gabriel, who performs on the single “When You’re Falling.” During the week of May 23, the song was the Number One Most Added track across the board at the AAA format. Afro Celts, with a special appearance by Gabriel himself, will perform live on “The Late Show With David Letterman” on July 26, and then “Good Morning America” on July 27, when they stop through New York City during their American tour.
B.R.M.C. – B.R.M.C.’s fuzz-laden, psychedelic-drenched debut album “Black Rebel Motorcycle Club” is on the tip of everyone’s tongue. The band released their Virgin bow to great critical acclaim. Alternative Press included B.R.M.C. in their prestigious list of “100 New Bands You Need to Know in 2001.” The LA Weekly heralded “Black Rebel Motorcycle Club” as “melodic, dynamic, stylish and gloomy” and “the best album in this sorta-genre in years.” CMJ stated that B.R.M.C.’s “majestic songs recapture the kind of post-punk headiness that’s been absent from alternative rock for some time.” And Rolling Stone heralded “Black Rebel Motorcycle Club” as one of the coolest rock records in the magazine’s “Cool Issue.” Catch the band when they tour the United States with Charlatans UK this summer.
With these hot new acts, in addition to several other debut artists you’ll soon hear about, and new albums from superstars Lenny Kravitz, Aaliyah, Perry Farrell, Iggy Pop, Teddy Riley, Boz Scaggs, D’Angelo and Timbaland & Magoo, just to name a few, Virgin is readying for what could be one of its most memorable years in its history.