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Mos Def might host "Yo!"
Possibly taking a cue from Tyrese, whose hosting duties on "MTV Jams" helped his popularity and album sales soar, Mos Def of Black Star is working on a deal to host "Yo! MTV Raps." Def also recently cut a distribution agreement with MCA Records for his Good Tree label. Def and his partner, Talib Kweli, are currently working on solo projects.


Charli signs modeling deal
Despite a long-delayed debut album, Charli Baltimore's career doesn't seem to be suffering. The girlfriend of the late Notorious B.I.G. signed a special endorsement deal with Company models. Her album, Cold As Ice, now is scheduled to drop June 22.


The Roots get busy
Representatives from The Roots and the Smokin' Grooves tour have confirmed that the group will be a part of the tour, which is scheduled to launch in July. Meanwhile, The Roots are making plans to release two albums by the end of the year. The first is due this summer: an EP of unreleased tracks cut from Things Fall Apart. The second will be a live album.


DMX disappoints
An online interview turned into a rough ride for Ruff Ryder DMX on Thursday, May 6. A scheduled Yahoo chat session got off on the wrong foot when X arrived thirty minutes late. Then, the fans that waited were treated to only 10 minutes of conversation before he decided to leave. After several negative messages from upset fans, DMX hung around for a while longer before finally logging off to prepare for a show.


Missy, Eminem team up
Missy Elliott has added Eminem to her growing list of artists that will appear on her upcoming album, Da Real World. Outkast, Juvenile, Redman, Lil' Kim, Da Brat and Aaliyah are also on the album, which will be released June 22.


Kane & Abel indicted
No Limit's Kane and Abel were indicted by a federal court for allegedly buying cocaine from drug kingpin and convicted killer Richard Pena. The duo, made up of twin brothers Daniel and David Garcia, released the gold-selling Am I My Brother's Keeper last year. A court date has not yet been set.


Smokin' Grooves returns
RollingStone.com is reporting that the organizers of the Smokin' Grooves tour are trying to assemble an all-star lineup of Outkast, Goodie Mob, Cool Breeze, The Roots and Eminem for this year's outing. Nothing is confirmed as of yet, but the tour would be scheduled to launch in July and last six to eight weeks.


Lauryn, Mase hit Hollywood
Two high-profile hip-hop artists have decided to try to carry their success on wax over to the film industry. Lauryn Hill, who has already established herself as an actress with roles in films such as "Sister Act 2," and Mase, who recently retired from making music, currently have plans in the works. Hill plays the ex-girlfriend of the main character, played by Alvin Brody, in the independent film "Restaurant," a story set in New Jersey about the lives of waiters and waitresses. There are currently no plans for a nationwide release, but the film is being shown at several festivals to try and nail down a distribution deal. Mase, on the other hand, has "about four (movie) offers ... and two TV deals" on the table, according to Magic Johnson, who recently became Mase's manager.


Ruff Ryders debut at No. 1
DMX's Ruff Ryders Records compilation, Ryde or Die Vol. 1, sold 283,000 copies last week and will debut at No. 1 on the Billboard album chart. In addition to Ruff Ryders DMX, The Lox and Eve, the album features Jay-Z, Juvenile, Big Pun and Mase.


Suge Knight denied release
The California Court of Appeals has denied Death Row Records CEO Marion "Suge" Knight an early release from his nine-year jail sentence for assault. Knight, in his third year of the sentence, plans to appeal to the California Supreme Court.


Puffy wants to settle
The New York Daily News reported that Bad Boy Records CEO Sean "Puffy" Combs offered Interscope Records executive Steve Stoute $2 million in an effort to avoid a lawsuit. Puffy was arrested on assault charges In April after Stoute, who is also Nas' manager, was brutally beaten. Stoute turned down the settlement.


Busta Rhymes leaves tour
Only days before the tour was slated to begin, Busta Rhymes pulled out of R. Kelly's "Get Up On A Room" tour because he wouldn't be able to do the kind of show that his fans expected of him. Instead, he plans to put together his own tour later this summer. The R. Kelly tour, which was already suffering from poor ticket sales in several markets, canceled its first date in Richmond, Va., and will now launch Friday, May 7, in Philadelphia. Nas, Foxy Brown, Deborah Cox, Kelly Price and Sparkle still are scheduled to perform.


Maseo launches label
De La Soul's Maseo has formed Bear Mountain Records, an independent label with a distribution deal through Bud Records. Four artists already have been signed, including Truth Enola, who appeared on "Pony Ride" off De La's 1996 album, Stakes Is High.


Run DMC teams up with Rubin
Run DMC have reunited with producer Rick Rubin for their upcoming album, Crown Royal. Rubin, who previously worked with the group on their 1986 classic, Raising Hell, likely will share production duties with DJ Premier, the Dust Brothers and the group itself. The album, which is scheduled to be released in August, reportedly will feature guest appearances by the Beastie Boys, Fat Joe, Slick Rick, Nas and Method Man.


Roger Troutman killed
Funk pioneer Roger Troutman was shot to death along with his brother in an apparent murder-suicide on Sunday, April 25, in his hometown of Dayton, Ohio. Troutman's career spawned several hits, including "More Bounce to the Ounce" and "Computer Love," which were heavily sampled by hip-hop artists throughout the last decade. Troutman was found outside his northwest Dayton recording studio around 7 a.m. Sunday.

The 47-year-old had been shot several times in the torso and died while in surgery at Good Samaritan Hospital and Health Center. His brother, Larry Troutman, 54, was found dead in a car a few blocks away with a gunshot wound to the head, police said. A handgun was found inside the car, which matched the description of a car leaving the scene of Roger Troutman's shooting. Detectives are investigating it as an apparent murder-suicide, police said, but family members could not offer any reason or motive. The brothers were part of the Troutman family of performers that formed the band Zapp in the 1970s. Roger Troutman also collaborated with 2Pac and Dr. Dre on "California Love," which made the top 10 on the charts and was nominated for a Grammy for best rap performance by a duo or group in 1997.


Suge investigated
RollingStone.com is reporting that Death Row Records CEO Suge Knight is being investigated by the LAPD as a "possible suspect" in the murder of the Notorious B.I.G. Although Knight was incarcerated at the time, police believe it is possible that he set up the hit from behind bars. The LAPD searched the Beverly Hills offices of Death Row and impounded a 1995 Chevy Impala that matched the description of the vehicle used in the killing.


2Pac piracy shut down
Several websites selling pirated MP3s of unreleased 2Pac tracks have been taken down by Lycos and Tripod after the estate of the late rapper filed complaints. Lawyers estimated that between 15 and 20 MP3 sites had been shut down, and that up to 20 additional non-MP3 sites that were selling bootlegs were also terminated.


Dr. Dre rethinks title
Dr. Dre is considering changing the title of his new album, Chronic 2000, because of plans by his former label, Death Row Records, to release a compilation of unreleased and classic tracks using the same name. Dre's album will feature all-new material with guest appearances by Snoop Dogg and Eminem.


Mase retires
With only one album released and another on the way, Mase has decided to give up the rap game and retire in order to follow God. The New York Daily News reported that Bad Boy Records CEO Sean "Puffy" Combs attempted to talk Mase out of it at a Manhattan restaurant by offering him more money. But Mase rejected the offer and told Puffy to find God as well.


Puff Daddy arrested
Bad Boy Records CEO Sean "Puffy" Combs turned himself in to New York police Friday, April 16, on charges of second-degree criminal assault and criminal mischief in connection with the beating of a record label executive. According to MTV, the incident stemmed from Puff's appearance in Nas' video, "Hate Me Now," which was shown Thursday on the network's "Total Request Live" without Bad Boy's approval. In the clip, Puff and Nas appear hanging from a crucifix.

Puffy had reservations about the controversial scene and had asked Steve Stoute, Interscope Records executive and manager of Nas, to take it out. According to New York police, Stoute was attacked Thursday at around 4:30 p.m. by "three suspects, one of them being Puff Daddy" in his New York office. Stoute was later taken to St. Clare's Hospital, treated and released with minor injuries to his arm. MTV has since pulled the video from their rotation until Bad Boy and Columbia Records settle their dispute.


L.L.'s rhyme ain't done
L.L. Cool J has begun work on his eighth album for Def Jam Records and currently plans to release it this fall. The news puts to rest rumors that L.L. was straying away from the microphone to pursue his acting career full time. Uncle L is currently filming Oliver Stone's "On Any Given Sunday," and has finished filming "Deep Blue Sea" with Samuel Jackson and Michael Rapaport and "In Too Deep" with Omar Epps, Pam Grier, Nas, and Stanley Tucci.


DMX, Ice Cube join Woodstock
DMX and Ice Cube have officially been added to the lineup for this year's Woodstock '99. The official roster for the 30th anniversary of the legendary '60s music festival was released Friday, April 9. Joining X and Cube at the event, which takes place at Griffis Park in Rome, N. Y. July 23-25, are George Clinton, Sheryl Crow, the Chemical Brothers, Korn, Rage Against The Machine, Everlast, Aerosmith, Foo Fighters, Willie Nelson, Alanis Morissette, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Mettalica, Dave Matthews Band. Individual tickets for the festival will cost $150 and go on sale Sunday, April 25, at 9 a.m.


Coolio launches label
Coolio plans to release a hip-hop and R&B compilation album June 15 as the first project of Crowbar Records, a label he founded with Pete Manriquez. The disc, titled "Coolio's Crowbar Records Presents," will feature nine artists dropping a variety of styles.

In an interview with Billboard, Coolio revealed that the motivation to start a record company was inspired by the lack of talent in the industry. "We have a gluttony of non-talented people making records now," Coolio said in the interview. "People who can't sing are singing; people who can't rap are rapping; people who can't dance are dancing. So I went out and found some raw talent and refined it."


Ice-T releases MP3
Ice-T has joined Public Enemy in embracing the controversial MP3 technology. Ice has signed a cross-promotional agreement with MP3.com to showcase new singles from his upcoming release 7th Deadly Sin. "Don't Hate The Playa," taken from the new album, is already available for downloading.


Lost Boyz mourn loss
The Lost Boyz' Freaky Tah (far left) was shot and killed Sunday, March 28, at 4 a.m. as he left a Sheraton Hotel in the Jamaica section of Queens. LB frontman Mr. Cheeks (far right) released a statement calling for an end to hip-hop's latest wave of tragic murders.

"This black-on-black crime needs to stop," said Cheeks. "It needs to stop happening now. I'm very saddened that this has affected my brother, Tah. He was the thunder and I was the rain. I will truly miss him."

Pretty Lou (second from left) added, "I want everyone to know I lost a brother. One of my heart valves is gone."


Redman, Method Man need help
Fans of both Redman and Method Man will have the chance to name the duo's upcoming album. Def Jam Records is holding a contest to help Reggie Noble and Johnny Blaze come up with an album title. The best 10 responses will be posted on Def Jam's official website,
www.defjam.com. The title that receives the most votes will be chosen. The project is slated for a summer release.


Rosa Parks has issues with Outkast
Rosa Parks, the woman who jump-started a revolution when she refused to give up her seat to a white man on a public bus in Montgomery, Alabama in 1955, is at odds with the Atlanta based duo's unauthorized usage of her name and likeness. According to MTV, Parks, who has reportedly hired a lawyer to hammer out a deal with Outkast and their parent label BMG, is upset with the exploitation of her name, and is seeking to halt sales of the record claiming Rights Of Publicity have been violated.

Apparently, Parks had no problem with Magoo's misinterpretation of history when he rhymed that he was in the "back of the bus with Rosa Parks."


Magic Johnson signs Mase
NBA legend Magic Johnson recently signed Bad Boy star Mase to his new management company, MJM Management. Mase joins Boyz II Men and Kelly Price on the MJM roster.


RZA talks about new Wu by Y2K
Wu-Tang Clan's RZA told MTV that he hopes the group's next album will ring in the new millennium.

"As for the next Wu-Tang album," RZA said to MTV, "personally I'd love to see it drop on January 1 in the year 2000. That's a possibility and if that happens, it'll be a dream come true. Other than that, though, I think [the new record might come out] by the summer of 2000. But if we could release it on January 1, when everybody is about to go crazy, it'd be great."


Busta Rhymes turns himself in
Already facing felony weapons possession charges stemming from a minor traffic stop back in December, Busta Rhymes is once again in trouble with the law. The platinum MC was charged with criminal contempt, a misdemeanor, for violating a restraining order after he allegedly phoned his son's mother and began threatening her. After the woman called authorities, Busta promptly turned himself in to authorities.


ODB is jailed in LA
The Associated Press reported that the Wu-Tang Clan's ODB was jailed on $115,000 bail Wednesday, April 3, on charges that he violated a new state law that bans violent felons from wearing body armor. The lawyer for Russell Jones, the 30-year-old rapper's real name, argued that he needed the protection because of his fame. Jones pleaded innocent.

According to the report, Deputy Public Defender Mearl Lottman claimed that Jones is at risk because of his popularity and noted that police in New York shot at him in January. A grand jury last month dismissed attempted murder charges brought against him in that incident.

Prosecutors, led by Deputy District Attorney Mary Ganahl, suggested that Jones was a danger and was the head of a street gang named Wu-Tang Clan. Municipal Court Judge Kevin Brown quickly corrected her, saying that because he had three kids he knew that the Wu-Tang Clan was a musical group, not a gang.

Jones was convicted of second-degree assault in New York in 1993. He also faces trial on two Los Angeles felony charges that he threatened to kill the mother of his 1-year-old child and that he made death threats to guards at a nightclub. Jones has also been accused of shoplifting in Virginia and of being a deadbeat dad, according to police. In the body armor case, he was arrested in Hollywood on Feb. 16 when he parked in a no-parking zone and police found he was wearing a bulletproof vest.


Master P cuts deal with Converse
No Limit Records CEO Master P, who has been promoting the Converse All-Star Smooth, recently signed a deal with the company to release his own shoe, the All-Star MP. The shoe will be a joint venture labeled as Converse/No Limit Footwear. Master P's tryout for the Charlotte Hornets sparked the conversations between the two companies. P was looking not only for a shoe to use during training camp, but a shoe brand to complement his successful No Limit apparel company.


Coolio gets 10 days in jail
Coolio was sentenced to 10 days in jail and 40 hours of community service after pleading no contest to one count of felony possession of a firearm in Southwest Superior Court in Torrance, Calif., on Wednesday, March 3. In addition, Judge James R. Brandlin ordered Coolio to attend an eight-hour autopsy of a gunshot victim.

A clerk at the courthouse suggested that both Coolio's plea and the sentence could change, but details could not be made public.

The firearm charge stems from a September 1997 incident in the L.A. suburb of Lawndale in which the rapper was pulled over by police for driving his 1996 Hummer on the wrong side of the road. After police searched the vehicle, they found an unloaded gun with a clip nearby and a small amount of marijuana. Coolio already paid a $1,000 fine for the traffic violation. His formal hearing is scheduled for April 9.


Jazzy Jeff goes back to the lab
DJ Jazzy Jeff is working on a solo album at his Philadelphia home, according to the Los Angeles Times. The record will include guest appearances by fellow Philadelphians The Roots and former partner Will Smith, as well as De La Soul, Common and Eminem. The disc is expected to showcase Jeff's legendary turntable, sampling and production skills.


Jay-Z boycotts Grammys
Jay-Z, who was nominated for three Grammys and won for Best Rap Album, skipped out on the ceremony Wednesday, Feb. 24, in protest of the awards show's disrespect of hip-hop.
"I am boycotting the Grammys because too many major rap artists continue to be overlooked," Jay-Z said in a written statement. "Rappers deserve more attention from the Grammy committee and from the whole world. If it's got a gun everybody knows about it; but if we go on a world tour, no one knows."

It wasn't clear whether Jigga was upset about the lack of on-air time hip-hop artists received on the show (one category was presented live -- Best Rap Solo Performance, won by Will Smith for "Gettin' Jiggy With It") or the lack of quality artists nominated.

Smith, the artist formerly known as Fresh Prince, took part in a similar incident 10 years ago at the 1989 Grammys. Four of the five nominees boycotted, including winners Smith and partner DJ Jazzy Jeff, because the first rap award was not presented on-air.

As usual, there were several questionable choices in the rap categories. The Beastie Boys were nominated for and won Best Rap Group Performance for "Intergalactic," beating out more legitimate choices "Rosa Parks," by Outkast; "Deja Vu," by Lord Tariq and Peter Gunz; "Ghetto Supastar," by Pras featuring ODB and Mya and "Money Ain't A Thang," by Jermaine Dupri featuring Jay-Z. Adding to the mystery was the Beasties' win for Best Alternative Performance for their album, Hello Nasty.

In some positive news for the hip-hop front, Lauryn Hill was the night's big winner, taking home five awards, including Best New Artist, Best R&B Song and Best Female R&B Vocal Performance for "Doo Wop (That Thing)," and Album of the Year and Best R&B Album for The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.


Lauryn Hill launches tour
Lauryn Hill kicked off her first U.S. tour with a strong, soulful performance in front of 4,600 fans at the sold-out Fox Theatre in Detroit on Thursday, Feb. 18. Hill, whose triple-platinum debut album recently received 10 Grammy nominations, took the crowd on a journey through hip-hop's past, present and future as she flawlessly weaved her way through her special blend of rap, R&B and reggae.

Backed by an assortment of live instruments, L-Boogie satisfied the crossover crowd with the hit single, "Doo Wop," and her current release, "Ex-Factor," but made sure to remember her roots by dropping a medley of Fugees hits, including "Fu-Gee-La."

With Outkast providing a solid and compatible lead-in to the show and an ever-growing fan-base, Lauryn Hill just might upset Jay-Z's Hard Knock Tour and earn the title of hip-hop event of the year.

Juvenile's 400 Degreez goes gold
On the strength of his blazing-hot single, "Ha," Juvenile's critically acclaimed album on Cash Money/Universal Records, 400 Degreez, has been certified gold. The single, along with its remix featuring Jay-Z, is receiving airplay at radio stations throughout the nation, including New York's Hot 97, where it topped the charts on Funkmaster Flex's countdown show. Juvenile plans to release "Follow Me Now" as the next single from the album.


Foxy Brown splits with Violator
According to Billboard, Foxy Brown, whose sophomore album Chyna Doll was released under the Violator/ Def Jam/ Mercury label, will no longer be represented by Chris Lighty, CEO of the Violator label. Poor record sales after a debut at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 album chart might be partially to blame. Billboard also reported that Brown is talking with producers Tone and Poke about joining Trackmasters Entertainment.
Click here to read The 411 Online's review of Chyna Doll


Rhino re-releases Everlast's debut
Warner Archives/ Rhino has announced plans to re-release Everlast's first solo album, Forever Everlasting on April 20. Originally released in 1990 when Everlast was part of the Rhyme Syndicate family, the album was executive-produced by Ice-T. The former House of Pain frontman's current solo album, Whitey Ford Sings the Blues, recently went platinum.


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