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Simmons takes on Puffy for charity
A celebrity basketball game pitting Russell Simmons' 360HipHop.com against Puff Daddy and Hookt.com will take place Saturday, Aug. 26, in the Hamptons. No players have been confirmed besides Simmons and Puff, but Jay-Z and Andre Harrell will provide play-by-play commentary. The two rosters eventually will be filled with celebrities from the world of hip-hop, film and fashion. There will representatives from the Rap the Vote 2000 initiative providing information and voter registration forms and the proceeds will benefit Boys Harbor and T.H.A.N.K.U. (The Hillcrest Avenue Neighborhood Kids Union). The pairing of Puffy with Hookt also adds fuel to the recent rumor that Bad Boy Records is working on some new online initiatives with the web site.


Compilation knocks Eminem from top spot
Britney Spears and the Backstreet Boys had to team up to knock their nemesis,
Eminem, from the top spot on the Billboard 200 albums chart. Now That's What I Call Music 4, a compilation which also contains recent hits from Aaliyah, Jennifer Lopez, Macy Gray, Blink-182, Smash Mouth, Marc Anthony and others, sold more than 320,000 copies to take over at No. 1 in its first week. Eminem's The Marshall Mathers LP, which set a hip-hop record with eight straight weeks at No. 1, dropped to No. 3 after selling an additional 233,000 copies. Britney Spears slipped ahead of Eminem to take the No. 2 spot, while Nelly's Country Grammar climbed back up to No. 4. Canibus' sophomore album, 2000 B.C., was the second-highest debut of the week, checking in at No. 23 with 56,000 copies sold.


Label signs Fredro Starr, B-Legit
Independent record label Koch Entertainment has added former Onyx member Fredro Starr and The Click's B-Legit to their roster. B-Legit, the cousin of E-40 who previously recorded on Jive Records, will release his long-delayed third album, Hemping Ain't Easy, on Koch in early September. The album features appearances by Kurupt, Snoop and Mack 10. Fredro Starr will record under the name Firestarr and plans to drop his solo album, The Boulevard of Broken Dreams, in the fall as well.


Eminem leads MTV nominations
Despite trying to distance himself from the pop crowd,
Eminem now has one more thing in common with 'N Sync thanks to MTV. Both grabbed six nominations for the 2000 MTV Video Music Awards, which will take place Sept. 7 at New York's Radio City Music Hall. "The Real Slim Shady" is up for video of the year, best male video, best rap video, best direction in a video, best editing in a video and the viewer's choice award. Eminem is also featured on Dr. Dre's "Forgot About Dre," which also is up for best rap video, along with DMX's "Party Up," Jay-Z's "Big Pimpin'" featuring UGK and Eve's "Love Is Blind" featuring Faith Evans. Last year, Jay-Z won the best rap video award for "Can I Get A..." The nominees for best hip-hop video are Juvenile's "Back That Thing Up," Lauryn Hill's "Everything Is Everything," Limp Bizkit's "N 2gether Now" featuring Method Man, Q-Tip's "Vivrant Thing" and Sisqo's "Thong Song." MTV "redefined" hip-hop as rap influenced by rock, R&B or some other form of music when it added the category last year.


Juvenile arrested for assault, battery
Juvenile has been charged with five counts of aggravated assault and three counts of simple battery after an incident on Tuesday, July 20, in which he allegedly threatened to shoot five women and chased them out of his home with an icepick. Although the women never saw a gun and police officers did not find one in the house, Juvenile was arrested for the eight misdemeanor counts on Thursday. According to a police statement, the five women were to serve as dancers at a housewarming party at Juvenile's home in Mandeville, La. When water from an upstairs bathtub began leaking through the kitchen ceiling, he allegedly became upset and blamed the women. They claim that he became physically and verbally abusive, pushing three of them to the ground and threatening to shoot them. He then allegedly grabbed an icepick and chased them out of the house. The women fled to a neighbor's house and called police. Juvenile was released after posting a $2,076 bond and is due back in court on Sept. 11.


Artists rally behind Keith Murray
Erick Sermon and Redman are leading the effort to get fellow Def Squad member Keith Murray immediately released from prison, and they've got a whole host of artists lined up to show their support at a rally. Mary J. Blige, L.L. Cool J and even Britney Spears are expected to attend a press conference scheduled for 2 p.m. Tuesday, July 25, at the Parker Meridian Hotel in Manhattan. Murray was sentenced to five years in prison for assaulting the brother of a concert promoter in New Britain, Conn. However, an eyewitness whose testimony was used against Murray in the case recently came forward and said he was bribed by the promoter and his brother. Murray appears on Sermon's latest album, Def Squad Presents Erick Onasis.


Coolio makes plans for fourth album
Coolio has signed a deal with Los Angeles-based Allied Artists Records to distribute his fourth album, Coolio.com. The album, which is expected to be released before the end of the year, will contain the remake of "The Gambler" he recorded with Kenny Rogers some time ago. All three of his previous albums -- 1994's It Takes A Thief (platinum), 1996's Gangsta's Paradise (double-platinum) and 1997's My Soul (gold) -- were issued by Tommy Boy. Coolio also is in a new movie coming out this fall -- a horror spoof titled "I Know What You Screamed Last Summer."


Eight straight for Eminem
Eminem's The Marshall Mathers LP was No. 1 on the Billboard 200 for the eighth straight week after selling another 257,000 copies. The soundtrack to "The Nutty Professor II: The Klumps" debuted at No. 4 on the Billboard 200, but topped Billboard's Top R&B/Hip-Hop albums chart. The album features cuts from Jay-Z, Method Man, Redman, Eminem, DMX and Janet Jackson.


Canibus jacked at own party
Hookt is reporting that Canibus was attacked by Harlem World's Blinky Blink at his own record release party. Apparently, Blinky Blink clocked him the minute he walked through the doors of Aria, a New York City nightclub. At that point, the entire club got into it and apparently Canibus was struck on the head with a glass-encased candle from the bar. Unidentified sources also allege that Cam'ron got involved as well. A publicist from Universal told Hookt that Canibus was injured pretty badly, but that Thursday's release party is still expected to take place. Canibus made a name for himself by appearing on an L.L. Cool J track, "4,3,2,1," and then dissing the hip-hop legend on his debut single, "Second Round Knockout." In a chat Monday with SOHH, Canibus said he was done dissing L.L. "I can sleep at night. He's done like two more records and can't sleep at night. What else is there to talk about?" Canibus said in the chat. "I don't care for creatin' drama to sell records. Let Def Jam do that." Apparently that didn't prevent him from dissing Blinky Blink on "I'll Buss 'Em," a track off his new album, 2000 B.C., which was released Tuesday.


Mos Def, Common in new film
Mos Def, Common, Ghostface Killah and Pharoahe Monch are among the artists that make appearances in a new independent film that analyzes hip-hop. The official East Coast screening of "Freestyle," a documentary being hyped as "'Wild Style' for new millennium," will take place 8 p.m. Wednesday at KAOS in New York. Participants were asked questions such as, "Is freestyle off the top or an unformatted written verse?" and "Is hiphop poerty?" Cost of admission is $10. Also involved in the film are Hydra, Pack FM, Supernatural, Jurrassic 5, Freestyle Fellowship, Aceyalone, Project Blowed, Cut Chemist, Medusa and The Last Poets.


Dr. Dre sues Detroit for $25 million
Dr. Dre went through with his plans to sue the city of Detroit on Friday, filing a $25 million lawsuit alleging that city officials violated the First Amendment rights of the "Up in Smoke" tour's lineup during a stop at Joe Louis Arena on July 6. City officials pressured the tour's promoters to remove a video that shows partially nude women and a liquor-store holdup. During the video, Snoop Dogg aims a gun at one of the robbers and asks the audience, "Should I shoot?" In the lawsuit, Dre alleges that officials threatened to cut power to the stage and arrest organizers if the video was shown. The next day a federal judge in nearby Auburn Hills ruled that the videos could not be censored. Despite the ruling, Auburn Hills police ticketed Dre after the July 7 show at The Palace for promoting pornography.


Snoop sued twice by same man
Snoop Dogg has been sued for a second time by a man alleging copyright infringement. Francisco Rodriguez claims that he gave a tape of his music to one of Tha Eastsidaz and a portion of it turned up on the song "Dogghouse," which was released earlier this year on the Snoop Dogg Presents Tha Eastsidaz album. The story echos an earlier claim made by Rodriguez that led to his first lawsuit against Snoop. In August 1999, Rodriguez alleged that music from one of his tapes was used for the song "20 Minutes," which is on Snoop's 1999 album, Topp Dogg. That case goes to trial Nov. 7.


Is Puff Daddy making wedding plans?
A tabloid is reporting that Puff Daddy and Jennifer Lopez are getting married this summer. A source quoted by The Globe claims that married celebrities Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick have been hanging out with the couple and giving them tips. According to the source, "Puffy told Jennifer, 'Man if they can make marriage work with all the sex scenes Sarah does, so can we. We're getting married.'" Apparently, Puffy and Jen made the decision during the 4th of July weekend, but don't expect a big wedding. "Sean would like to elope before his trial in August. They'll probably elope, their life is enough of a circus as it is."


Ed Lover and Doctor Dre leave The Beat
Longtime hip-hop personalities Ed Lover and Doctor Dre have left their positions as morning hosts at Los Angeles radio station 100.3 The Beat. The station, which recently switched its frequency from 92.3 FM to 100.3, is expected to shift its format closer to the R&B side of things. No replacement has been named, but the duo's former sidekick and news reporter Nautica De La Cruz will hold down the fort in the meantime. Ed and Dre, who rose to stardom hosting Yo! MTV Raps, are expected to either return to Hot 97 in New York, where they served as morning hosts before relocating to L.A., or start their own internet radio program.


Busta speaks out against Napster
As the debate over file-sharing software programs like Napster rages on, more and more artists are choosing sides. In an interview with MTV,
Busta Rhymes became the latest MC to speak out against Napster. "I think the whole Napster thing is horrible," Busta told MTV. "I think that it's probably one of the worst things that was ever invented, and at the end of the day, if they touch my music, it's going to get dealt with accordingly. I'm pretty sure they don't really give a f---. But for those that don't care, there are consequences." DMX also has joined the fight. The Ruff Ryder has pledged his support to Artists Against Piracy, a coalition that aims to give recording artists a voice in determining how their music is distributed on the web.


Russell Simmons defends voting record
Russell Simmons, who has been the driving force behind the Rap the Vote 2000 campaign, released a statement in response to a New York Post report that claimed he hadn't voted since the 1992 presidential election. "Yes, there have been times when I haven't voted, but what I have come to realize in the past several years, especially under the Giuliani administration, is that not voting contributes to our problems," Simmons said. "That is why, through Rap The Vote and Redeem the Dream, I have committed myself to aggressively registering one million young voters by November."


Eminem holds off Ruff Ryders
Eminem's The Marshall Mathers LP held off a tough challenge by the Ruff Ryders' Ryde or Die -- Vol. 2 to stay on top of the Billboard 200 albums chart for the seventh week in a row. Eminem's album sold 290,000 copies, compared to the Ruff Ryders' 254,000. Nelly's Country Grammar, which debuted at No. 3 last week, dropped to No. 4, while Lil' Kim's Notorious K.I.M. fell from No. 4 to No. 7. Meanwhile, on the Billboard Hot Rap Singles chart, Lil' Zane's "Callin' Me" featuring 112 was No. 1 for the second straight week after debuting in the top spot last week.


Da Brat joins Mariah in movie
Da Brat will co-star with Mariah Carey in "All That Glitters," a film based on Carey's real-life rags-to-riches story. Da Brat will play the best friend of Carey's character in the movie, which starts shooting in Toronto later this month and is expected to be released sometime next year. In other news, it has been confirmed that Da Brat was indicted last month on two felony counts of aggravated assault for her part in a bar fight in March. If convicted, she faces up to 20 years in prison on each charge. Da Brat's next hearing is in August.


DJ Yella joins N.W.A reunion
Although DJ Yella did not reunite with N.W.A for the
"Up In Smoke" tour, he will be on board for the full-fledged reunion. Yella revealed that he will contribute to the album that the rest of the group recently started working on. Dr.Dre, Ice Cube, M.C. Ren and Snoop Dogg have a mobile recording studio on hand for the remainder of their road trip. Originally slated for a Christmas 2000 release, the album, tentatively titled Not These N----- Again, now is expected to arrive in the fall of 2001.


Chuck D launches Rapstation Swapmeet
Chuck D has launched a new "Swapmeet" section on his web site, Rapstation.com, that gives visitors access to different audio and video file-sharing programs like Napster and Scour. The Swapmeet section of Rapstation also provides direct links to videos of Chuck D interviews as well as updated news reports on this controversial issue. Chuck appeared on CBS and MSNBC on Tuesday to continue his support of free music.


Police hassle Dr. Dre over video
Dr. Dre is considering a lawsuit after Auburn Hills police ticketed him on a misdemeanor charge of promotion of pornography. According to the Associated Press, city officials in Detroit last week pressured promoters of Dre's "Up in Smoke" tour to remove a video that shows partially nude women and a liquor-store holdup. During the video, Snoop Dogg aims a gun at one of the robbers and asks the audience, "Should I shoot?" Because officials threatened to cut power to the stage and arrest organizers if the video was shown, Dre and company complied. But Auburn Hills police demanded the same thing for the next night's show and threatened charges of contributing to the delinquency of minors if the video wasn't dropped. Promoters were forced to go to court hours before the show to get clearance to show the video. "What makes you think you can edit content?" a federal judge asked city officials, according to the AP. "Isn't that classic censorship and prior restraint?" Auburn Hills police proceeded to ticket Dre for the misdemeanor charge after the video was shown at Friday night's show.


Xzibit starts his own label
Xzibit, whose status has reached another level since guesting on Snoop Dogg's "B Please," has started his own record label, Open Bar Entertainment. King Tee and Defari have been signed to the roster as well as the Golden State Project, a trio consisting of Xzibit, Ras Kass and Saafir.


Puff Daddy, Simmons: Not active voters?
According to a report in the New York Post, Russell Simmons and Sean "Puffy" Combs have not been to the voting booth in quite some time, despite the fact that they've taken lead roles in the Rap The Vote 2000 campaign. The Post reported that Simmons hasn't voted since the 1992 presidential election and that Puff Daddy is not registered anywhere in New York City. Both participated in a football game to raise funds for Rap The Vote 2000 recently.


Eminem in custody battle with mother
Add a custody battle to the drama in
Eminem's life. His grandmother, Betty Kresin, told The Detroit News that Eminem, whose real name is Marshall Mathers, wants to take his 14-year-old half-brother, Nate Samra-Mathers, away from his mother, Debbie Mathers-Briggs, now that he has enough money to support him. According to Kresin, Eminem and his wife, Kimberly, fought with Mathers-Briggs over the weekend before Samra-Mathers finally returned to Missouri. Eminem, who has topped the charts for six weeks with The Marshall Mathers LP, is facing charges in two separate incidents, and his wife attempted suicide Friday night.


Get a sneak preview of L.L.
Def Jam is including a free sampler of L.L. Cool J's G.O.A.T. with the first 100,000 copies of the "Nutty Professor II: The Klumps" soundtrack, which hits stores July 11. This tactic is nothing new for Def Jam, which in the past has included bonus discs in releases from DMX, Jay-Z and EPMD. L.L. Cool J's album is due in stores Aug. 8.


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