Wednesday, November 24, 2004
Finding Ron Artest's CD is hard work
By Bomani Jones Special to Page 3
I got a call requesting I review Ron Artest's infamous record, which was released Tuesday. The record is only his in a proprietary sense -- it's actually a record by Allure, an R&B trio on his label, Tru Warier Records -- but my editor and I still wanted to hear the album that left him so tired he asked for a month off during the season.
Ron Artest is holding one of the few copies of his new CD.
Little did I know that looking for the album, "Chapter III," would leave me just as exhausted.
The first stop was Circuit City, which didn't even have a tab for Allure in its R&B section. Ditto for Best Buy, which actually cut off Artest after the brawl. So then I checked the Tru Warier's website, and it crashed. Apparently, there is a such thing as having too much publicity -- it seems that Artest's sudden immersion into mainstream consciousness was more than his bandwidth could handle.
Maybe Artest's distribution plan didn't include a quasi-metropolitan area like Durham, N.C. (where I live), but I was more likely to see Allure sipping lattes at Starbucks than I was to find this album in stores. It wasn't on iTunes, either. I couldn't even download it by less-than-legal means.
This begs the question: What promotion of this album made Artest so tired?
While Ron-Ron has been bashed for showing up on "Today" and choosing to pub this album instead of showing contrition, a trip to a local record store makes that behavior defensible. If it's this hard to find his album, he needs to show up on national television wearing his label's logo on his chest. For that matter, if the only way I could get the record would be to order it off some website (and no, it's not even available on Amazon), then he might want to walk up and down the street handing out flyers and snippet tapes to anyone that will take them.
And after Friday night, is anyone brave enough not to?
The best I could find was some background info on Allure and 30-second samples on BarnesandNoble.com. The story on Allure is actually pretty interesting. After signing a deal with Track Masters, a well-known production team, they signed with Mariah Carey's Crave Records and released their self-titled debut in 1997. Though they had a moderate hit with their cover of Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam's "All Cried Out," the record didn't make much noise. And their second album, "Sunny Days," was mostly ignored. Dropped from their label, MCA (which signed them after Crave went under), they then signed with Tru Warier.
Two words come to mind when talking about Ron Artest these days: Bad Rap.
From the snippets available online, "Chapter III" seems OK and nothing more. It's typical R&B fare -- good for dance, romance, and little more. The final track, "I Feel So," features Ron Artest. And if the clips I heard of him rhyming on his site before it crashed were any indication, they should have told him to leave the studio. Artest actually has a song in which he stops suddenly to vomit. That's not the guy anyone wants rapping on an R&B record.
But again, was Allure really going to say no?
So overall, there's nothing wrong with what I heard, even though there's nothing right with it either. Instead, we've got three much more interesting questions:
1. After working for Mariah, did Allure think they'd have a crazier boss? Artest isn't going to do a striptease on national TV, but he might break a camera at a video shoot.
2. What was Artest doing all summer? A CD not being available at Best Buy is like a flavor not being on the menu at Baskin-Robbins.
3. How sad is it that the only good thing that could have come from his suspension -- increased exposure for his label -- crashes his label's website, it's biggest promotional tool?
Not much is going right for Ron these days. However, clips of "Chapter III" weren't too bad. This is definitely better than Roy Jones' terrible records.
But I'm not saying that to his face, either.
Bomani Jones, a regular contributor to Page 3, writes a music column titled "For Myself and Others" on Africana.com, an AOL subsidiary. Questions, comments, praise, and hate mail are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org.