Kenny Chesney's 17th album, The Big Revival, debuted at Number Two on the Billboard 200 chart this week, barely missing the top spot. Co-produced by Chesney himself and loaded with guest appearances by Alison Krauss, Dan Tyminski and Grace Potter (who also teamed up with Chesney for the Grammy-nominated "You and Tequila" back in 2011), the album sold 130,000 copies during its first week of release, losing the top position by less than 1,000 in sales to Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga's collection of jazz duets, Cheek to Cheek. Also in the running for the top slot was Barbara Streisand's own duets album, Partners, which ultimately finished third with 127,000 copies.
Over on the country charts, The Big Revival reigned supreme, marking Chesney's 13th time topping his genre's album chart. Last week, Tim McGraw nabbed that position with Sundown Heaven Town, with first week sales of 71,000.
The "American Kids" singer took a year off from touring to create his latest chart-topper. "It's not as simple as everyone thinks: to find great songs, to be in a creative space where you can think about that stuff, hear new rhythms or change up lyrics," Chesney says. "I didn't want to come back with more of the same, but more of something even better... and whether it's 'Flora-Bama' or 'Wild Child' or 'Til It's Gone,' the response I'm getting says we did the right thing."
Meanwhile, the country powerhouse has been promoting Revival by making the usual TV rounds, performing on ESPN's College Gameday last weekend and hitting up Conan O'Brien's late-night show — with a band that included four guitarists, no less — on Monday evening.
Antemasque, the new project from former members of The Mars Volta and At the Drive-In, continue to prep for the official release of their debut album with a live video of their prog-rock track "In the Lurch," to which Flea contributed earlier this year. Obscured slightly by the band’s signature logo, frontman Cedric Bixler-Zavala, guitarist Omar Rodríguez-López, bassist (and Omar's brother) Marcel Rodriquez-Lopez and drummer Dave Elitch jam in an energetic, grainy grayscale video that breathes new life into the band's punk leanings.
Rodríguez-López produced the video, which was shot in August during the band’s west coast tour. Their debut LP, Antemasque, was self-released earlier this year on Rodríguez-López’s label Nadie Sound and available for purchase through Bandcamp before being pulled from the site. The band is slated to re-release the album in October.
In addition to his collaborations on early Mars Volta tracks, Flea has contributed bass lines to numerous Antemasque singles, sparking rumors that he was a confirmed member of the band. In response, Flea tweeted, "Woke to find out I'm in a new supergroup. Hahahaha. Played on some tracks a few weeks ago with my friends Omar and Cedric for love that['s] all."
The group will embark on a world tour beginning October 2nd in Antwerp, Belgium, crossing through Europe, Mexico, and North America before ending their first leg on November 16th in Chicago. They’ll hit the road again in 2015 for select dates in Japan and Australia.
Four years ago, 50 Cent had an epiphany about his contribution to society. "I started assessing my legacy and how I want people to remember me," he tells Rolling Stone at a press event for the second season of SundanceTV's education-based reality show Dream School. "Not as a guy who made a couple of cool songs or picked a couple of good roles in film and television, but more as someone who helped others the most. I spent so much time dealing with the business portion of the music business for [2009's] Before I Self Destruct, it gave me enough time to reflect on who I want to be."
When the rapper/businessman saw Jamie Oliver's Dream School, a 2011 British documentary in which the titular chef brings low-performing students into a specialized school taught by teachers and celebrities, he immediately knew he wanted to be involved in the U.S. counterpart. The American version premiered on SundanceTV last year in Los Angeles, with 50 Cent signing on as both producer and teacher.
Season Two, which finds 15 New York City students who have previously dropped out or been expelled getting a chance to graduate, has recruited Chuck D (who doubles as an executive producer), figure skater Johnny Weir and chef/restaurant owner David Chang, among others, as celebrity teachers and mentors. LouAnne Johnson, whose 1993 book My Posse Don't Do Homework was turned into the hit film Dangerous Minds, has also signed up to be the school's principal. The show premieres Wednesday, October 1st at 10 pm EST on SundanceTV.
"When the students get a chance to see people that are in a position that they can aspire to who have had similar tough situations in front of them, then they don't make excuses for not being successful and can identify with them," the rapper said in a panel alongside civil rights lawyer Gloria Allred, who appears as a teacher in the show. "They look at the content you create that is aimed at the dysfunctional behavior in the communities you grew up in and they know you know. It's an opportunity to utilize your celebrity in the right way."
With more than 3 million students dropping out annually in the U.S., Allred said she tried to focus on a positive aspect for each Dream School: NYC student. "We started out asking each student, 'I am unfortunate because, but i am fortunate because' and one of the students said, 'I am unfortunate because a lot of my homeboys have been killed, but I am fortunate because I still have some left.' We all can say, 'I am unfortunate because,' but we have to remember that we are fortunate in many ways."
Asked to answer the question himself after the panel, 50 tells Rolling Stone, "I am unfortunate because I'm a bad judge of character at points, but I am fortunate because I notice, so I reevaluate my decisions with people and then I move forward and continue my success."
The rapper, whose troubled drug-dealing past has been thoroughly chronicled, says he can relate and empathize with the students on the show. "These kids are smart; they're just taking on bad habits," he says. "This is probably the last opportunity for them. When I met them, they all seemed to understand how lucky they were to be in the program and have this opportunity. Even in 12-step programs, they tell you to change people, places and things. But when you go home into the same environment, you start doing things that are connected to the bad habits. But it's great that they had the support that wasn't in everybody's day-to-day."