A long-held notion about promoting any product or event -- be it a book, prize fight, film or new-and-improved dishwashing liquid -- is that any publicity can only help.
Well, not if you're R&B group Allure and Indiana Pacers All-Star forward Ron Artest is the executive producer of your latest album.
Artest cannot seem to get out of his own way, bringing more attention to himself than the CD he's supporting after his actions in the infamous NBA brawl on Nov. 19 that prematurely ended the Pacers-Pistons game and threw the sports world into a frenzy.
Artest's subsequent suspension for the rest of the season leaves him plenty of time to promote the album. However, in spite of the turbulence surrounding the CD's release, "Chapter III" (Tru Warier Records) turns out to be more hype than heat.
Still, the album does have its moments. The quartet-turned-trio is on to something with the track "I Think I'm In Love." The percussion and guitar licks are breezy complements to solid harmony. A remix version of the song gets an assist from rapper Joe Budden from the Def Jam ranks. He sells the usual woof tickets on material possessions and sexual innuendo, which flows with the dance beat.
It's no surprise Artest, 25, would also want to take his turn as a young MC, but unlike a fellow accomplished athlete, Deion Sanders, who raps throughout his 1994 "Prime Time" album, Artest can only be heard spitting rhymes on the final track, "I Feel So." Yet Artest, who once made a singing apology to Paul Pierce on Fox's "Best Damn Sports Show Period" on Jan. 13 after pulling the Boston Celtics star's shorts down during a game last season, should not even be confused for being a rapper or a singer. To his credit, however, he is not afraid to try.
When Artest takes the mic, his rapid-fire cadence sounds as if he's breaking down a defender off the dribble. His message, however, harps on the tired refrains of over-the-top intimacy:
Love it when you rub mine's;
Spine twirls when you touch me
Like I'm chewin' on necks;
Trust me, girl, I'm the best
But even Allure's voices and the staggered bass beat cannot save this track, which borrows a not-so-subtle lyric from Aaliyah's "Rock the Boat."
Yet, while "Chapter III" doesn't quite measure up to Allure's 1997 debut album, it shouldn't be dismissed out of hand simply because of Artest's presence. Allure has its moments with sultry harmonies and smooth beats, and the group has more than Artest's fame to fall back on.
Current members Akissa Mendez, Alia Davis and Lalisha McLean are alumnae of New York's prestigious LaGuardia High School for the Performing Arts. The group, which once included Linnie Belcher, was the first act signed to Mariah Carey's label, Crave Records.
Allure has yet to see a breakout star emerge and carry the group (and generate more record sales) in the way Beyoncé Knowles has for Destiny's Child, whose latest album, "Destiny Fulfilled," sits at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 chart. Still, Allure is definitely an underdog worth rooting for as it searches for a slam dunk in the music world.
David Cooper is a news editor for ESPN.com.