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POP MUSIC | FAST TRACKS

Romantic rejoinder to R. Kelly

June 10, 2007|August Brown | Times Staff Writer

FOR R&B fans too modest to follow R. Kelly to the outer metaphorical orbits of his "Sex Planet," a charming new single by Jamaican-via-Miami singer Sean Kingston is making more wholesome inroads into the Top 40. The 17-year-old Kingston's "Beautiful Girls" is unlike anything else on the radio; a wide-eyed mix of throwback R&B, dancehall lilting and a bit of Phil Spector if he'd preferred a vocoder to firearms.

Kingston's uncle is the reggae pioneer Buju Banton and producer Jack Ruby is his grandfather, but the singer-songwriter (he writes his own lyrics, including the touching if grammatically suspect come-on "You're much on my mind" ) hooked up with "Girls' " producer J.R. Rotem through good old-fashioned MySpace trolling.

"I was at my mom's boyfriend's house and said, 'Yo, I'm going to start sending bulletins,' " Kingston said. He sent a blind e-mail to Rotem through Aftermath Music's website, and -- voila! -- "He replied.... For someone at his level write back to me, it was so crazy."

The song is built around the bass line from Ben E. King's "Stand By Me," a sample choice both head-smackingly obvious and subtly sexy in a meet-me-at-the-malt-shop way. While Kells is off boasting how his new conquest will call her man "Kelly" when the guy's name is Tommy, Kingston is bemoaning that "You're way too beautiful, girl, that's why it'll never work." In a hip-hop market in which MCs are one-upping one another to "Buy U a Drank" at every turn, Kingston already seems bored with the chase.

"It's about an experience that happened in Miami," Kingston said. "The girl and I were together for two years before she cheated on me with my best friend."

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A band's home is its castle

SOME multi-platinum, white-as-Wonder Bread piano poppers have all the luck. Isaac Slade, frontman of Denver quartet the Fray, is a leading hopeful to inherit a 13th century British estate from Sir Benjamin Slade, a slightly daft aristocrat who turned his search for an heir into a Discovery Channel documentary.

The Somerset mansion is a fully functioning estate replete with peacocks, cattle and a Doberman-Labrador mix that was the most recent beneficiary of the Slade family's unusual charity when Sir Slade's ex-mother-in-law left the mutt an inheritance. With luck, the manor comes with a moat and portcullis; Hinder may well storm the gates when it gets wind of this.

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Looks as if he's a lover and a fighter

A bad couple of months for Akon got even worse after clips of the Senegalese singer/unwitting freak-dancer surfaced that show him tossing a fan off the stage of a concert in Fishkill, N.Y. The skirmish took place after a concertgoer allegedly threw a small object at Akon during the show, where security promptly ushered him onstage, only to be thrown head-over-heels back into the crowd by Akon.

Fishkill police are looking for the fan to possibly help in an investigation against Akon. All that talk about yearning for a "Sweet Escape" from those who want to "Smack That" now cuts a bit close to home, eh?

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august.brown@latimes.com

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