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"Direct Effect" premieres Monday
First, there was "Yo! MTV Raps." Then it was "Beat Suite." Now, MTV is ready to take hip-hop television into the new millennium with "Direct Effect." The live show, already nicknamed "DFX," premieres Monday, Sept. 25, and will be hosted by Teck of "Real World: Hawaii" fame and Funkmaster Flex. The concept is part-TRL, part-The Box, except the results are virtually instantaneous. As one video plays, three others are shown on screen and viewers pick which video they want to see next by voting on the internet. As the votes come in, the percentages change under the three options until a "winner" is determined. That video is shown next and the whole process starts over. From the preview show hosted by K.K., it appeared that the choices will include nice mixes of new and old school as well as occasionally pitting rivals against each other. Nowhere is that more evident than in the choices for the premiere episode's first video: 2Pac & Dr. Dre's "California Love," Notorious B.I.G.'s "Hypnotize" and Snoop Dogg's "Gin And Juice." Votes are being tallied right now at
mtv.com.


L.L. Cool J returns on top
L.L. Cool J's The Greatest Of All Time takes over the No. 1 spot on the Billboard 200 albums chart next week, ending Nelly's five-week run at the top with Country Grammar. L.L.'s latest sold more than 208,000 copies in its first week, according to sales figures released by SoundScan. Nelly slips just one spot to No. 2, while Eminem drops to No. 3 with The Marshall Mathers LP. A couple of Bay Area veterans charted as well. Too Short's You Nasty moved more than 82,000 units to debut at No. 12, while B-Legit's Hempin' Ain't Easy debuted at No. 64. Cash Money's "Baller Blockin'" soundtrack sold more than 80,000 copies to check in at No. 13.


Drag-On arrested on assault charges
The Ruff Ryders' Drag-On was arrested in New York on Monday and charged with assault after a run-in with his limo driver. After being released, Drag-On told his side of the story to New York's Fox 5 News. "My limo driver came and picked me up," he said. "We was coming up on the airport. We were going to pick my man up, and he was wild. He called me racist names, but I let all that slide, though. I got to my crib, and it's like he was talking crazy. I was trying to hold it back, but I couldn't hold it back. He kept pimpin' me, so I'm like, 'Listen, man, step out of my face,' and he didn't want to step out of my face. So I'm like, 'All right, champ, it's on. You're supposed to get out of the car and take my bag out the car and all that. You didn't take my bag out the car. Why you out the car? All right now, you must want to fight then.'" When the reporter asked him what happened next, Drag-On started throwing punches for the camera. "That's what I did. Straight up."


DMX signs book deal
Harper Entertainment has purchased the rights to
DMX's autobiography, tentatively titled "DMX: A Dogz Life." The book, which will be written with the help of Smokey D. Fontaine, is scheduled to be released in the fall of 2001. "A Dogz Life" will not only tell the story of the 29-year-old Yonkers native's rise to fame, but also will include excerpts from his notebooks and prayers that he recites to himself every day. DMX is currently in Toronto filming "Exit Wounds" with Steven Seagal and Isaiah Washington.


Puffy donates computers to students
Puff Daddy will donate more than 100 computers to Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Academy during an appearance at the Harlem school on Tuesday afternoon. The founders of Hookt.com, Peter Griffith and Chas Walker, will also be in attendance, and are expected to use the event to formally announce an alliance with Puffy. Despite recent legal problems, Puff still has made time to donate his time and money to charity through celebrity basketball games, benefits for foster children, and Daddy's House, which organizes summer camps and other extracurricular activities for children.


Lil' Kim, Busta perform on "Farmclub"
"Farmclub.com," the weekly music television series that earlier this year presented N.W.A's first live performance in more than 10 years, will feature performances by
Lil' Kim and Busta Rhymes on its Monday, Sept. 18, episode. "Farmclub.com," which is hosted by former MTV VJ Matt Pinfield and former Doritos girl Ali Landry, also showcases unsigned artists and airs at 11 p.m. ET on the USA Network. Both Kim and Busta will try to add some life to sales of their latest albums. Lil' Kim's platinum Notorious K.I.M., which was released on June 27, currently sits at No. 52 on the Billboard 200 albums chart, while Busta's Anarchy, which arrived a week earlier, has dropped out of the top 100.


Second rally planned for Murray
Erick Sermon and Redman will stage another rally to support the release of their fellow Def Squad member, Keith Murray. The duo, who held a similar event in July, will speak on the steps of the Capitol building in Hartford, Conn., on Wednesday, Sept. 20. Murray was convicted in 1998 of second-degree assault after an altercation with a concert promoter in Connecticut three years earlier. Murray has served 23 months of his term, which originally was three years but was increased to five after he failed to turn himself in to authorities until almost a month after the conviction. The extra two years can be suspended as long as he stays out of trouble in prison. Fat Joe, Rockwilder and Tha Alkaholiks were among the celebrities that turned out for the first rally, but there was no word on who might show up this time.


Monster Jam snags Jay-Z, Lil' Kim, Nelly
Jay-Z, Lil' Kim, Nelly, Destiny's Child and Mya won't be trick-or-treating this Halloween. All have signed on for Jam'n 94.5's second annual Monster Jam, which will take place Oct. 31 at FleetCenter in Boston. Tickets, which range in price from $45 to $65, went on sale Thursday through the radio station's web site, but any remaining tickets will go on sale Friday through Tickemaster. A portion of the proceeds from the show will go to Project Bread, a nonprofit organization dedicated to ending hunger in Massachusetts.


Flesh-N-Bone pleads guilty
Bone Thugs-N-Harmony's Flesh-N-Bone pleaded guilty to felony possession of a dangerous weapon in Los Angeles Superior Court on Wednesday as part of a plea bargain. He originally was charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, illegal possession of a shotgun, making terrorist threats and resisting an officer. The case stems from a January incident at a relative's house in which the Los Angeles Police Department responded to a disturbance, only to find Flesh holding a loaded, sawed-off shotgun. He will be sentenced Oct. 24 and could face up to three years in prison. In June, Flesh was convicted of assault with a firearm and criminal possession of a firearm by an ex-convict after threatening a friend with an AK-47 last December. Sentences for both convictions could run concurrently.


Nelly makes it 5 straight
For the fifth consecutive week,
Nelly owns the No. 1 spot on the Billboard 200 albums chart. The St. Louis MC, who exposed himself to some more potential fans with a performance on the MTV Video Music Awards, sold 191,000 additional copies of his debut album, Country Grammar, last week. Eminem, who also performed on last week's awards show, jumped back up to No. 2 after The Marshall Mathers LP moved 145,000 units. C-Murder claimed the biggest debut of the week as Trapped In Crime sold 75,000 copies to check in at No. 9. Mack 10's The Paper Route debuted at No. 19 after selling 47,000 copies.


Wyclef, De La Soul invade campuses
MTV's Campus Invasion tour will have a decidedly urban feel this time around. The normally rock-oriented trek will be headlined by hip-hop's Wyclef Jean, De La Soul and Black Eyed Peas this year. All three acts will be promoting recent releases. Wyclef's sophomore joint, The Ecleftic -- 2 Sides II A Book, and De La's Art Official Intelligence: Mosaic Thump have both received
critical acclaim since hitting stores in August, while Black Eyed Peas' next offering, Bridging The Gap, is scheduled to hit stores on Sept. 26, one week before the tour launches. The first leg begins Oct. 3 at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, R.I., and will make nine other stops on campuses in Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Iowa and Missouri along the way. Additional dates are expected to be announced soon.

The current schedule: 10/3 -- Providence, RI @ Johnson & Wales University; 10/5 -- Charlottesville, VA @ University of Virginia; 10/8 -- Shippensburg, PA @ Shippensburg University; 10/14 -- Kent, OH @ Kent State; 10/17 -- Big Rapids, MI @ Ferris State; 10/23 -- De Kalb, IL @ Northern Illinois University; 10/25 -- Iowa City, IA @ University Of Iowa; 10/26 -- St. Louis, MO @ St. Louis University; 10/27 -- Columbia, MO @ University of Missouri; 10/28 -- Kirksville, MO @ Truman State.


Don't call it a comeback
They've been here for years. Two hip-hop legends, L.L. Cool J and Too Short, return to drop new albums on Tuesday. Uncle L sets out to solidify his position as The Greatest Of All Time on his first album since 1997's Phenomenon, while Short Dog delivers You Nasty, his second CD since coming out of retirement (and 12th overall). Both albums are being greeted with early critical praise for two very different reasons -- L.L. for his ability to change with the times and thrive; Short for not having to alter his tried-and-true Oaktown formula to stay current. As has been the case with his most recent albums, L.L. enlists the help of Def Jam's finest and others. This time around, DMX, Method Man, Redman, Ja Rule, Amil, Snoop Dogg, Jayo Felony, Xzibit and Prodigy make cameos. The most notable guest appearances on Short's disc show up on the album cover -- unless it gets censored. Support the old school and cop 'em both.


Sickle cell anemia hospitalizes Prodigy
Sickle cell anemia has landed Mobb Deep's Prodigy back in the hospital. The Queensbridge MC has been bedridden since Sept. 4. While he has not addressed the issue on his web site, InfamousStores.com, he does tackle the topic on "You Can Never Feel My Pain," a track on his upcoming album, H.N.I.C. The most recent installment of his regular column on the web site appeared on July 14 and addressed the reason why his album was delayed indefinitely. "I'm holding it," he said in the post. "I won't allow Loud to put it out until they get their sh-- together. We made that company who they are, and we see crumbs from it. So basically I'm on strike." Before that post, the site had been updated on an almost daily basis. Prodigy has battled the disease, which attacks the immune system, since birth, and has generally been open about it, but his health really came to the forefront when 2Pac questioned it on "Hit 'Em Up."


TLC's Left Eye surfaces
In what no doubt will someday be revealed as a publicity stunt, TLC's Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes' stint as a missing person is over after surfacing outside a hotel in New Orleans. Left Eye did not address the reporter who tracked her down. Instead, she rushed off to a car, apparently preferring to remain unseen. Family and friends became concerned about the 1999 Source Awards host's whereabouts when she failed to show up for a press conference and a family gathering. Left Eye has been known to bring the drama in the past. In 1994, she burned down former boyfriend Andre Rison's house, then celebrated by appearing on the cover of Vibe in a fireman's uniform. More recently, she publicly challenged fellow TLC members T-Boz and Chilli to a duel of solo albums to see who could sell more. Left Eye quit the group at one point, but returned shortly afterward.


Eminem will appear on Saturday Night Live
Eminem will be the musical guest on the season premiere of "Saturday Night Live." The show, which will air on Oct. 7 at 11:30 p.m. ET, will be hosted by Rob Lowe. No word on whether Eminem will be allowed to participate in any skits dissing Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera. Eminem previously appeared on "SNL" with Dr. Dre in 1999. The Aftermath duo performed "Forgot About Dre" prior to the release of Dre's 2001.


Tell VH1 your Lil' Kim fantasy
If you got the chance to spend a day with
Lil' Kim, how would you want to spend the time? A new VH1 series wants to hear your Lil' Kim "Rock N' Roll Fantasy." The show will pick one fan and let them live out their fantasy with the Queen Bee for an upcoming episode. Submit your ideas to VH1's Christina. Please include your full name, age, phone number and hometown. Also include why you are such a huge fan and any interesting Lil' Kim stories you might have. Speaking of Lil' Kim, it is the day after the 2000 MTV Video Music Awards, and after last year, people undoubtedly will want to know what she was wearing. If you missed the show, look no further. We've got you covered.


More news on Nelly, the Wu-Tang Clan and The Source Awards


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