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The Last Word: Winehouse Gets Waxed, Usher Aims to Play Marvin Gaye and New Edition Reunites to Collab with New Kids on the Block!

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How’s everything going, everybody? Happy 4th of July! It

was a short week as former vice president Al Gore officially endorsed Barack

Obama for President, while jazz singer Rene Marie caught a lot of attention for

singing the Black National Anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” when

she was asked to perform the “Star Spangled Banner.”

 

Venus and Serena Williams facing each other

for the first time since 2003 in the Wimbledon final, and paparazzi made the

trek to France to stake out the hospital where Angelina Jolie is planning to

have her twins.

 

Congratulations to former American Idol contestant Paris Bennett, who is expecting her first

child. Shout out to the sounding boards for being geared towards independence

when thinking on freedom.

 

So here’s another fine mess…the Last Word

for the week ending July 4, 2008.

 

1. Stevie Wonder Talks About Freaky Possibilities on Record

 

Say the name Stevie Wonder, and many things

come to mind. Legendary singer, activist, humanitarian. No questions the man

has an enviable string of hits that will outlive most artists’ careers, let

alone the artists themselves.

 

So picture for a minute what would happen if

the great Stevie Wonder decided to channel R.Kelly and unleash his inner freak

in song? Sounds interesting, but don’t expect Wonder to travel down that road

anytime soon.

 

“I don’t think I would do a song that

said can we $%*! right now or anything like that. I don’t think I would do

something like that, or a song that said certain things, whether it be 30 years

ago or right now,” the singer told the Associated

Press when asked if he ever wanted to as much freedom to get raw on record

back in the day.

 

“I don’t see myself as doing that just

because there are other ways to say what you wanna say without saying it

like that. That’s private business… I’m not an advocate of giving everything

up. [laughs]“

 

No surprise there, but it does make you think.

What if Stevie went there and sang “Part-time Lover” from a different

viewpoint? Or maybe even “I Just Called To Say I Love You” as “I

Just Called to Say I’d F**k You?”

 

Good thing Mr. Wonder put the freak on a leash

and left the kinky stuff to those who use his influence to paint a sensual

picture of whatever episode they’re starring in. Makes you feel so “overjoyed.”

 

2. Amy Winehouse Gets Waxed by Madame Tussaud

 

The living soap opera that is Amy Winehouse

continues to roll on as the embattled diva is now striking a chord with the

folks at Madame Tussaud’s wax museum.

 

The famous museum is planning to unveil a wax

figure of Winehouse later this month in London. Look for the figure to feature

sailor tattoos and Amy’s trademark beehive hairdo.

 

The figure will join the fellow waxed

likenesses of Beyonce, Justin Timberlake, The Beatles and Jimi Hendrix at a

gallery of pop and rock stars. Madame Tussaud’s general manager Edward Fuller

had nothing but kind words when relaying the joy in creating the wax figure.

 

“She is a real icon in modern British

music, a continual award winner, and an internationally recognized star widely

requested by our guests,” he told The

Age newspaper.

 

Just what we’ve been wanting. A life-sized model

of a talented but drug-addicted singer that never met a tabloid she wasn’t

featured in. If they really wanted to get the wax figure just right, why not

make the beehive a little messed up, feature marks on the arms and let’s not

forget that essential crack pipe.

 

I’m just saying. Let’s let art truly imitate

life, why don’t we?

 

3. George Clinton and El DeBarge Become Gangsters of Love

 

I never thought I would see the day when a

member of the DeBarge family would join forces with George Clinton, but it

looks like Dr. Funkenstein has recruited El DeBarge for his upcoming album George Clinton and Some Gangsters of Love.

 

The two along with Sly Stone, appear on a

reworking of Marvin Gaye’s “Ain’t That Peculiar.” The new project

features a variety of cover songs, as additional guest stars Carlos Santana,

RZA, System Of A Down bassist Shavo Odadjian, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and

gospel singer Kim Burrell all do their part to help Clinton, who admitted that

the album “started out with me doing some doo wop songs” before his

friends started dropping in to contribute in their own way.

 

Among the songs covered by Clinton are Shirley

& Lee’s “Let the Good Times Roll” with the Chili Peppers, Barry

White’s “Never, Never Gonna Give You Up,” Johnny Ace’s “Pledging

My Love,” Shep & the Heartbreak’s “A Thousand Miles Away,”

Bobby Rydell’s “Kissin’ Time,” Ruby & the Romantics’ “Our

Day Will Come” and the Impressions’ “Gypsy Woman,” with Santana.

The only new song is the Burrell-featured “Mathematics of Love.”

 

All of this comes on the 40th anniversary of

P-Funk as Clinton shared plans of putting out an album of new P-Funk songs in

early 2009.

 

4. Rodney Jerkins Practices Reinvention With Britney Spears

 

As one of the best-known producers in music

today, Rodney Jerkins’ track record speaks for itself. So why is the beatmaker

putting in work to elevate Britney Spears back to the pop queen throne? (Other

than the paycheck, of course).

 

To hear him tell it, Jerkins is hard at work

with the troubled songbird on some “very dancey, really up-tempo,

aggressive, catchy, and hook friendly” stuff for two songs on her

forthcoming album.

 

“I’m trying to reinvent her and reinvent

myself with her project,” the producer recently told Rap-Up TV.

 

With Britney’s well-documented partying, public

flashing and personal issues, you would think that working in the studio with

her would be a task and some change, but Jerkins told People that she has been professional during their sessions as

“[Britney] walked in at 8:30 and was out by 10:30″ when comparing her

work ethic to artists who take a long time to record their material.

 

So what does that equal? Maybe a solid return

to the charts, Rodney says. “It’s about to be her time again.”

 

We’ll see…the jury’s still out. After all,

everybody loves an underdog, right?

 

5. Lyfe Jennings Sings for The Cause

 

Having a voice in today’s music industry is a

good thing. Using that voice for a good cause is priceless. Media sources

report that Lyfe Jennings has joined forces with Music World Entertainment and

the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for a new HIV/AIDS

initiative.

 

The singer will work with the program during

his Baby I’m a Star tour, which kicked off last week in North Myrtle Beach, SC.

The initiative’s goal of the alliance is to promote awareness, education and

testing across the United States in response to the HIV/AIDS crisis among

African-Americans.

 

For Jennings, the chance to put his talent to

work for a worthwhile effort was a no-brainer.

 

“I have to use my voice to help raise

awareness so that we can really bring an end to this thing,” he said.

“This disease has affected all of our lives, but we can definitely do

things to prevent its spread and to protect ourselves.”

 

6. New Edition Unite With New Kids on the Block for Full Service

Collabo

 

For all the ‘80s babies (even you Pretty

Ricky) and obsessive boy band admirers out there, here is something to talk

about. New Edition has hit the studio to record a song with none other than New

Kids on the Block

 

People.com reports that the collabo titled

“Full Service” came just days after Ralph and the boys were honored with

the Golden Note Award at the 21st annual ASCAP Rhythm and Soul awards. It is

slated to appear on NKTOB’s as yet untitled comeback album.

 

According to the song’s producer, RedOne, it

was New Kid’s resident bad boy Donnie Wahlberg who came up with the idea for

the supergroups to unite. In fact, he sat on it for a few months until he found

the right song to get everybody on.

 

And if you’re wondering how the track sounds,

RedOne revealed that there were no egos or attitudes involved in the recording

as it came off as “very universal and melodic and has both sides in

it.” “The R&B, which is New Edition and the pop side for New

Kids. It’s very uplifting. Right away you start feeling good and every part

feels natural to each one of the guys.”

 

And if I didn’t answer the other big question,

here it is. Bobby was not involved in the all-star track. But weren’t these

guys beefing with each other back in the day? After all, let’s face it. NKOTB

did resemble NE in style and image. But they took it to the other level when

they became an ‘80s phenomenon.

 

So that’s gotta result in some jealousy, right

Ralph?

 

“The thing people were going back and

forth with was we’d been doing what we were doing for the longest [but] we

couldn’t get cartoons and things that the white guys were getting. It was like,

‘wow,’” he said. “But the guys themselves, we have mad love.”

 

I guess anything is possible. Maybe that

Hangin’ Tough For a Candy Girl tour can jump off…

 

In Other Words…

 

* Keyshia Cole continues to make a name for

herself, as she is now hooked up with the nation’s largest

African-American-owned hair care company to be the face of Luster Products

Inc.’s Brand Smooth Touch.

 

* Usher wants to take playing Marvin Gaye

beyond his portrayal of the R&B icon on the TV show American Dreams. According to WENN, the crooner is hoping to play

Gaye in a big screen version of Gaye’s life. “I want to be the person who

tells the story of Marvin Gaye because I understand the conflict he had as a

man,” Usher said. We’ll see what happens.

 

*Nicole Scherzinger’s duet with Sting, titled

“Power’s Out,” has been selected as the music for a Revlon

advertising campaign featuring actress Jessica Alba.

 

* Looks like the Commodores aren’t the only

old school group getting back together. Labelle, the R&B trio featuring

Patti Labelle is working on a reunion album that will hit stores on Sept. 23.

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