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After 7 weeks, Nelly is No. 1
Nelly took a different route to reach the top of the Billboard 200 albums chart. While most albums make a strong debut and fade, Nelly's Country Grammar managed to hit No. 1 in its seventh week on the chart. The album sold 234,000 copies last week to surpass the 1.5 million mark and edge Britney Spears for the top spot. It's not the first chart surprise for Nelly. Country Grammar outsold Lil' Kim's heavily hyped sophomore album, Notorious K.I.M., when both albums debuted in June. Meanwhile, De La Soul's fifth album made this week's highest debut at No. 9. Art Official Intelligence: Mosaic Thump sold more than 81,000 copies.


Eminem files for divorce
Eminem filed for divorce from his wife on Wednesday morning in Detroit. "The two have had an on-again, off-again relationship that's been extensively detailed in the press," Interscope said in a statement to MTV. "In early June, the couple separated, and since then Eminem has come to the decision that a divorce is unavoidable." Eminem, whose real name is Marshall Mathers, and his wife, Kimberly, have a 4-year-old daughter named Hailey. Their relationship, often the subject of Eminem's rhymes on both of his multi-platinum albums, most recently made headlines in June. The couple got in an argument outside a nightclub in Warren, Mich., after Eminem allegedly assaulted a man he saw kissing her. Kim then attempted suicide at their home in Sterling Heights, Mich., in July. Another one of Eminem's strained relationships added some drama this week as well. His mother, Debbie Mathers-Briggs, filed a second defamation lawsuit against him. The $1 million suit, which follows a $10 million lawsuit filed last year, stems from comments Eminem made to Shooting Star magazine.


"Oz" attracts Method Man, others
Master P and Method Man will add to their acting resumes with appearances on HBO's prison series, "Oz." Both will be featured during "part two" of the show's fourth season. Part one is airing now and the second half's eight episodes currently are in production and will premiere in January. Master P is expected to play a pimp in a January episode, while Meth's appearance will air in February. Brand Nubian's Lord Jamar recently joined the show as Supreme Allah, a "five-percenter" who causes tension among the prison's cliques. Lord Jamar made his debut a couple of weeks ago on the fifth episode of this season. Naughty By Nature's Treach also appeared on the show, but his character, Malcolm Coyle, was stabbed to death last season in retaliation for murdering a family.


DMX will perform at MTV awards
DMX has been added to the list of performers for this year's MTV Video Music Awards. The show, which will be hosted by Marlon and Shawn Wayans, will take place Sept. 7 at New York's Radio City Music Hall. DMX, who is up for the best rap video award, joins a list that already included Eminem and Janet Jackson. Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Lil' Kim, Eve, Nelly and Destiny's Child are among those slated to present awards.


Common & The Roots plan tour
The Roots are definitely pioneers in the hip-hop game, and their latest project won't do anything to change that reputation. The group, which is known for playing all of its own instruments, is planning to serve as the band for Common, Mos Def and other artists in a series of three-hour shows being billed as the "Okayplayer" tour. The tour also will include Dilated Peoples, Talib Kweli & DJ Hi-Tek, dead prez and Jill Scott. A schedule has not been announced, but it is expected to hit at least 20 cities, including New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. The concerts also will feature "activity stations" with laptop computers and educational information. Okayplayer.com was launched by The Roots in 1999 and is the official web site of Common, D'Angelo, Talib Kweli & DJ Hi-Tek and others.


Eminem won't settle with mother
Eminem rejected an offer to settle a $10 million defamation lawsuit filed by his mother for only $2 million. According to The Macomb Daily, the offer was first made in June, but lawyers for Mathers-Briggs officially entered it into court documents on Wednesday. Mathers-Briggs filed the lawsuit against her son in September 1999. The civil suit will come before a Macomb County Circuit Court later this year, with Eminem scheduled to give a deposition on Sept. 13.


Nelly maintains chart position
Nelly's Country Grammar just missed moving up a notch to the No. 2 spot on the Billboard 200, selling only 48 fewer copies than Britney Spears' Oops! I Did It Again. The St. Louis native sold another 237,000 copies of the album, bringing its six-week total to 1.3 million. Nelly, whose album sits at the top of the Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop chart, hopes his next single will boost album sales even further. "E.I." is starting to hit the airwaves and a video is coming soon. Meanwhile, the Now 4 compilation stayed at the top of the chart and Eminem remained at No. 4. The Marshall Mathers LP increased sales thanks in part to heavy rotation of his new single, "The Way I Am." The album sold 218,000 copies to bring its 11-week total to 5.6 million. The late Big L scored the week's highest debut at No. 13 with The Big Picture.


Cochran will fight Outkast
Rosa Parks has hired lawyer Johnnie Cochran to help her appeal a district court decision allowing Outkast to use her name as the title of a song. Parks, who became a prominent figure in the U.S. civil rights movement when she refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery, Alabama, bus in 1955, sued Outkast last year for using her name as the title of its Grammy-nominated song, "Rosa Parks," from 1998's Aquemini. Outkast and LaFace Records claimed that the First Amendment protects song titles and U.S. District Judge Barbara Hackett agreed in a ruling in November.


Jay-Z expands movie plans
Jay-Z has announced plans to produce a film based on the lives of New York's most infamous uptown gangsters. Mekhi Phifer will star in the film, which begins shooting later this year. Meanwhile, Jay-Z's long-delayed "Backstage" is scheduled to hit theaters Sept. 6. The "Hard Knock Life" tour documentary follows Jigga, DMX, Redman and Method Man on the most successful hip-hop tour of all time.


De La Soul is back on the scene
De La Soul's first album since 1996, Art Official Intelligence: Mosaic Thump, hits stores Tuesday. To celebrate, the trio will be meeting with fans and performing at the Virgin Megastore in New York City's Times Square at 6 p.m. The album, which is De La's fifth, hits the streets with plenty of buzz, thanks in part to the hot single, "Oooh," featuring Redman. Xzibit, Busta Rhymes, Freddie Foxx, Chaka Khan, J-Ro and Tash of the Alkaholiks and Mike D and Ad-Rock of the Beastie Boys also make guest appearances on Art Official Intelligence.


Ice-T joins "Law & Order" spin-off
Ice-T will take another shot at television with a starring role on "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit." Ice will play police detective Odafin Tutuola, the partner of John Munch (Richard Belzer). "It's a great thing to be asked to be on board such a great show," Ice-T said in a press release. The show, which debuted in the fall of 1999, was nominated for a TV Guide Award for favorite new series. In 1997, Ice starred in the NBC series, "Players," as one of three scam-artist convicts that satisfied their parole requirements by helping out the FBI. Ice also had a small role in a 1998 "Law & Order" TV movie and a recurring role on "New York Undercover." He also has made appearances in well over 25 movies. As far as his music career, Ice-T's Greatest Hits: The Evidence drops Tuesday. The compilation features classics like "I'm Your Pusher" and "6 in the Mornin'" as well as "Colors" and "New Jack Hustler," which previously were available only on movie soundtracks. The album also features a new song, "Money, Power, Women."


Salt prepares solo album
Cheryl "Salt" James, one third of the legendary female hip-hop group Salt-N-Pepa, has announced plans to release her first solo album, Salt Of The Earth, in early 2001 on GavFam Records, her joint venture with Rap-A-Lot Records that will be distributed by Virgin Records. "For a long time, I've wanted to take more control in my career as an artist and as a businesswoman," Salt said in a press release. "Starting my own record label is a key part of making this vision a reality, and the label's name reflects the themes that are most important to me. 'Gav' comes from Gavin, the name of my husband and the father of our two children. 'Fam' comes from the word family, because my family is always going to be my top priority. It's really what I'm all about." However, Salt-N-Pepa have not broken up. The trio recorded four new tracks for a greatest hits album that was released overseas, but the collection has not yet arrived in the U.S. due to scheduling delays.


Go "Backstage" with Jay-Z
"Backstage," the behind-the-scenes documentary about last year's "Hard Knock Life" tour, isn't scheduled to hit theatres until Sept. 6, but
Jay-Z gave a few invited guests a sneak preview of the flick at a screening room in Manhattan on Tuesday night. The film follows Jigga, DMX, Redman and Method Man as they travel the country, capturing plenty of backstage drama as well as concert footage from the most successful hip-hop tour of all time. Of course, no Roc-A-Fella project would be complete without a soundtrack. In addition to the Roc-A-Fella dynasty, DJ Clue Presents "Backstage" Mixtape features appearances by Foxy Brown, Outkast, Capone-N-Noreaga, T-Boz and Mya. The album is scheduled for a Aug. 29 release.


Nelly rises to No. 3
Nelly and Eminem traded places this week on the Billboard 200. The pride of St. Louis hip-hop took over the No. 3 spot after Country Grammar sold an additional 222,000 copies last week. The album, which sold 209,000 the week before, is getting a boost from the title track's increased airplay on MTV. Meanwhile, Eminem fell to No. 4 after a week at No. 3 ended his record eight-week reign at No. 1. The Marshall Mathers LP sold a respectable 210,000 copies last week, but the release of a second single and video, "The Way I Am," might just spark another run at the top.


Ice Cube leaves "Up In Smoke"
Ice Cube's last performance on the "Up In Smoke" tour will be Wednesday's show at the Ice Palace in Tampa, Fla. The Aug. 2 date originally was supposed to be the tour's finale, but the schedule was extended to Aug. 23. Because of Cube's film plans, he will be unable to participate at the additional venues. Shooting begins Aug. 8 on his next movie, John Carpenter's "Ghosts of Mars." Dr. Dre and the rest of the lineup will play 14 shows without Cube before the tour wraps up.


DMX agrees to star in "The Crow" sequel
MTV is reporting that
DMX has agreed to star in "The Crow: Lazarus," the fourth motion picture in the "Crow" franchise, and is in negotiations for a multi-picture deal tied to the part. "I am very excited about my involvement in 'The Crow: Lazarus,'" DMX said in a statement. "I like the story line, and I can identify with the character. On the real tip, the moral of this story is that things are not always what they seem and we must not be too hasty to pass judgments, and that's real." The original movie was released in 1994 and a sequel followed in 1996. The third film, titled "The Crow: Salvation," tentatively is scheduled to hit theaters in the fall, but it might be released directly to video. DMX currently is in Toronto shooting a new movie, "Exit Wounds," with Steven Seagal.


Kurupt, Lil' Kim, others play KMEL Summer Jam
Kurupt, Lil' Kim, Missy Elliott, Da Brat, Jermaine Dupri, Mos Def and Master P will be among the artists performing at the KMEL All-Star Summer Jam in San Francisco next month. R&B headliners include Carl Thomas, Lucy Pearl, Next, Torrey Carter and Ideal. The show is scheduled for Aug. 12 at the Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View, Calif. Tickets range in price from $35 to $58.50 and the proceeds benefit Peace On The Streets.


Puff Daddy makes court appearance
Sean "Puffy" Combs was in a New York City courtroom Monday, but the only thing accomplished in his weapons and bribery case was setting a date to set a trial date. Sept. 13 was the date agreed upon to discuss scheduling conflicts and finalize a starting date for the trial. Puff Daddy pleaded not guilty to charges of criminal possession of a weapon in the second and third degree and bribing a witness in connection with a shooting late last year at Club New York in Manhattan. Bad Boy artist Shyne is facing attempted murder charges in connection with the incident.


Mystikal leaves No Limit
Mystikal is the latest artist to leave No Limit Records. A publicist for Mystikal confirmed rumors that he has left the ranks of the No Limit Soldiers. Kane & Abel, Fiend, Mia X and former production team Beats By The Pound also have left the fold in the past year or so. Mystikal's last album on No Limit was the 504 Boyz' release, Goodfellas.


More news on B-Legit, Puff Daddy and Juvenile


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