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Did Gore help Rap-A-Lot?
With every Election Day comes controversy, and in recent elections hip-hop has played a role. This year is no different. Last Friday, National Legal and Policy Center president Peter Flaherty called on the media to pursue allegations that Vice President Al Gore helped stop a narcotics investigation into James Prince, the owner of Rap-A-Lot Records in Houston. A joint investigation of Rap-A-Lot by federal and local narcotics agents allegedly came to a halt two days after Gore made a March campaign appearance at a Houston church, at which Prince was present. Prince had previously made a $1 million gift to the church and had bought the pastor a new Mercedes. Last Wednesday, Attorney General Janet Reno ordered an investigation into accusations by narcotics officers that "political interference" resulted in the end of their year-long undercover probe. According to its mission statement, the NLPC "promotes ethics, openness and accountability in government through research, education and legal action." Last month, Gore, whose wife Tipper is responsible for the "parental advisory" labels on albums with explicit content, was given Mos Def's Black On Both Sides album during an MTV public forum and was asked by a fan to listen to it and comment on it via e-mail. Gore's response, published by MTV, was generic and non-specific, and it was hard to tell if he actually listened to the CD. The bottom line is that no politician is going to truly represent hip-hop, so it's on you to choose between the lesser of two (or three or four) evils. Either way, get out and vote.


Jay-Z named artist of the year
Jay-Z was named Hip-Hop Radio Artist of the Year and Dr. Dre received the Legend Award at the 2000 Radio Music Awards at the Aladdin Resort and Casino in Las Vegas on Saturday. During his acceptance speech, Jay-Z said that he would have brought a change of clothes if he expected to win. "I only got one outfit," he said. "And I'm about to perform." Jigga was joined on stage by the Roc-A-Fella crew for a rendition of "I Just Wanna Love You" and gave a shout out to Lil' Bow Wow and Nelly, who also performed at the show. Dre's Legend Award is the second such honor he's received this year after sharing the Lifetime Achievement Award with Ice Cube at The Source Hip-Hop Music Awards 2000.


Shyne scuffles at Blaze Battle
Eyedea of St. Paul, Minn., emerged as the Blaze Battle champion Thursday night at New York's Hammerstein Ballroom, but Shyne stole the show when he went into the crowd to fight with a fan during his performance. According to sources at the show, a member of the audience threw a helmet at Shyne, who promptly jumped off the stage and confronted the guy. A scuffle broke out that lasted a minute or two before Shyne jumped back on stage to finish his performance, which included an appearance by Bad Boy labelmate Black Rob. Two additional fights broke out during the show, which also featured a performance by Mystikal and was being filmed by HBO. The scuffles did not affect the taping and the special will air Nov. 25. Kurtis Blow, Doug E. Fresh and Puff Daddy were in attendance at the event, which was started by the now-defunct Blaze magazine. Shyne is facing attempted murder charges in connection with the shooting of three people at a New York nightclub in December 1999. His trial is set to begin in January 2001.


Amil no longer part of The Dynasty?
You're only as strong as your weakest link, or so the saying goes. Maybe that's why, just weeks after her debut album dropped, Amil appears to be no longer a part of
Jay-Z and the Roc-A-Fella crew's future plans. All Money Is Legal debuted Sept. 19 with very little fanfare other than consistently solid reviews and videos for "I Got That," featuring Beyonce, and "4 Da Fam," featuring everybody. Amil barely is heard from on Jigga's new joint, The Dynasty: Roc La Familia, and when Jay-Z appeared on BET's "106 & Park" on Halloween, he was joined by Memphis Bleek, Beanie Sigel, Damon Dash and DJ Clue, but no Amil. No official statement has been made regarding her absence, but rumors about a rift between Amil and Jay have been circulating for months.


Will Smith welcomes baby girl
Will Smith and his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, announced the birth of their second child Thursday. Willow Camille Reign Smith, a 6-pound, 10-ounce baby girl, was born on Halloween night in Los Angeles. Willow is the couple's second child. Jaden Christopher Syre Smith was born in July 1998. Will also has an 8-year-old son, Trey, from a previous marriage.


Nelly's got staying power
Plenty of hip-hop artists have come and gone on the Billboard 200 this year, but through all the ups and downs,
Nelly is right back where he started 18 weeks ago. Country Grammar, which spent five weeks at No. 1 earlier this year, is this week's highest ranked hip-hop album at No. 3, which is the spot the now quadruple-platinum album debuted at after its June 27 release. Ja Rule's Rule 3:36 checked in at No. 4, while the first offering from Scarface's Def Jam South, Ludacris' Back For The First Time, dropped three spots to No. 7. Mystikal's Let's Get Ready rounds out hip-hop's top 10 representatives at No. 8.


Outkast performs in Times Square
Outkast will perform in Times Square on Thursday to promote the release of their fourth album, Stankonia. Andre 3000 and Big Boi will stop by MTV's Times Square studio to make an appearance on TRL in the afternoon before setting up shop in the Virgin Megastore across the street. The duo will meet with fans and sign autographs before taking the stage for a two-hour set at 8 p.m. Stankonia, which was released Tuesday, features guest appearances by the Dungeon Family's Goodie Mob and Slimm Calhoun as well as B-Real, Gangsta Boo and Erykah Badu.


Jay-Z, Outkast or both?
Those of you on tight budgets have a decision to make Tuesday. Two of hip-hop's most prolific and consistently solid artists over the past few years are dropping albums on the same day for the second time in three years. Back on September 29, 1998,
Jay-Z and Outkast both dropped their third albums, Vol. 2... Hard Knock Life and Aquemini -- the same day that A Tribe Called Quest released their final offering, The Love Movement. Jay-Z has since released his fourth album, Vol. 3... The Life and Times of S. Carter, but now Jigga and Outkast are squared off once again, and the early buzz surrounding both albums has been overwhelmingly positive. Jay-Z has called The Dynasty, which originally was intended to be a showcase for his Roc-A-Fella artists, "Reasonable Doubt 2" in interviews, while Andre 3000 and Big Boi are redefining hip-hop's boundaries once again with the first single from Stankonia, "B.O.B." Jay-Z attempted to make a run at a million with his last disc, but this time the race to No. 1 will be as tight as the presidential election.


The Skinny on Slimm Calhoun
Just because his first album's release date recently was pushed back from Nov. 7 to early 2001, it doesn't mean
Slimm Calhoun will be slowing down anytime soon. Raised in College Park, Georgia, Slimm is the latest member of the highly successful Dungeon Family to make his mark, and he's doing it as the first artist on Outkast's Aquemini Records. Slimm's debut cut, "It's OK" featuring Andre 3000, just hit No. 1 on the Billboard rap singles chart, and he also makes a guest appearance on Outkast's upcoming album, Stankonia, which is holding fast to its Oct. 31 release date. Slimm's album, The Skinny, should see the light of day sometime after the first of the year. Slimm Calhoun took some time out this week to talk with The 411 Online about his upcoming album. "The Skinny means 'the 411' or 'the scoop' or 'the info,' so that's what the whole album is about... like information about what's going on from street to street, from the clubs to the house to the church to the school to whatever. I got something on the album for the hustlas, the playas, the cuttas, the women. I mean, if you like to think, if you just like to sit back, ride, smoke... there's something on there for everybody." The complete interview...


ODB escapes from rehab
A bench warrant has been issued for ODB after he ran away from a drug-treatment facility in Los Angeles last week. Ol' Dirty apparently fled as he was being transported from the Impact House in Pasadena, Calif., to the Los Angeles Criminal Courthouse downtown. "He physically ran away," Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney Michael O'Gara told MTV. "It's my understanding that his counselors were taking him to court to discuss his program with the judge." A Los Angeles Superior Court judge issued a "no-bail" warrant for ODB on Oct. 17, which means that once he is arrested, he will not be allowed to post bail. Ol' Dirty was transferred to Impact House in June after serving six months in county jail for violating probation by drinking alcohol. The sentence stems from convictions for wearing body armor and making terrorist threats. Ken Holder, who works for the district attorney in Queens and is prosecuting ODB in a crack-cocaine case told MTV that "no one knows where he is. He decided he'd had enough of the program, and he left."


Mack 10, T-Boz have baby girl
Mack 10 and T-Boz announced Monday that the birth of their first child took place Friday at 10 p.m. in Los Angeles. According to an announcement issued by Priority Records, the home of Mack 10's Hoo Bangin' Records, the new parents and the baby -- a girl named Chase -- are all happy and healthy. The birth comes just two months after the couple was married. Mack 10 and T-Boz hooked up during the filming of TLC's "Unpretty" video and announced their engagement in May. The couple married outside of L.A. in August with Ice Cube, W.C. and TLC's Chilli among the guests. T-Boz is featured on Mack 10's current single, "Tight to Def," from his most recent album, The Paper Route. She also appears in the video, which is one of two included on the enhanced CD.


Suge lashes out at everybody
In a couple of new magazine interviews, Death Row Records CEO Suge Knight unloads on everybody from former sports heroes and political leaders to longtime nemesis Sean "Puffy" Combs and, of course, his former associates,
Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre. Knight, who is in his fourth year of incarceration for violating his probation, calls Snoop an "impostor" and says he "can't stand" Dr. Dre in an interview with Controversy magazine. "I don't have any feelings towards that impostor, Snoop," Knight says. "He can't walk into any ghetto... because everybody sees him for what he is, a fake. To be a black man and not be able to go to the ghetto -- that's bad. Totally disrespectful." Knight also has words for Puff Daddy in an interview in Gear magazine. "Look at guys like Puffy and Dre. They didn't grow up in the ghetto, yet they rap about gangbanging and drugs. Those guys can't even go into the ghetto unless it's with a 15-person police escort, and if they do that, their image goes straight to hell." O.J. Simpson, Magic Johnson, Eminem and Jesse Jackson are among the other targets. However, Knight also takes the time to praise 2Pac, Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks and John F. Kennedy Jr. Death Row's latest album, Too Gangsta For Radio, also has plenty of personal attacks on Dre, Snoop and Eminem, in addition to taking shots at recently departed Death Row inmate Daz, Will Smith, Janet Jackson, Da Brat and Sisqo.


Is Rakim next on the waiting list?
Rumors are circulating that Rakim has made a verbal agreement to sign with Dr. Dre's Aftermath Records. At first glance this might seem to be good news, since combining the best lyricist of all-time with the best producer of all-time would be guaranteed platinum, but there are at least four reasons why it might not be such a good thing: King Tee, RBX, Eve and Dawn Robinson. All four were signed to Aftermath, but none of them ever released an album for the label. And those are just the memorable names. Do you remember Kim Summerson, Miscellaneous, Hands-On, Sharief, Nowl, RC or any of the other artists featured on 1996's Dr. Dre Presents... The Aftermath? Probably not, but at least there's a legitimate reason for all of this. Dre is a perfectionist. He takes his time to do things right and the results speak for themselves. The same thing happened when Dre was at Death Row. At best the label released one album a year (always platinum), and so far Dre is operating at about the same pace at Aftermath. So what is to be expected from the label? Dre proclaimed that Hittman was "who's next" on a commercial that was tacked on to the end of the "Forgot About Dre" video until MTV and BET realized that it wasn't part of the song. Of course, Eminem really was up next... for the second time. Now, Dre's highly anticipated summer production product, Xzibit's Restless, is a delay away from a 2001 release. And the N.W.A album, originally projected for a Christmas 2000 release, already was pushed back a full year, bringing to mind another reunion album that never saw the light of day: Dr. Dre & Ice Cube's Helter Skelter. With all these pending projects, when will Dre find time to fit Rakim's album in? Despite the fact that Rakim is a legend on the mic, he still might get lost in the shuffle.


Ja Rule debuts at No. 1
Ja Rule, whose single featuring Christina Milian, "Between Me and You," has been a hit for weeks, has transferred some of that success over to the Billboard 200 albums chart. According to SoundScan, Ja's Rule 3:36 sold more than 275,000 copies in its first week and will debut at No. 1, making it 16 out the past 21 weeks that a hip-hop album has topped the charts. Eminem's The Marshall Mathers LP started off the streak with eight straight weeks at No. 1. After a three-week run by a hits compilation, Nelly's Country Grammar took over for five weeks. Since then, hip-hop has alternated with pop acts every other week. L.L. Cool J, Mystikal and now Ja Rule all have spent one week at No. 1. Nelly and Mystikal round out the top three this week as hip-hop albums account for 10 of the top 25. E-40's Loyalty and Betrayal debuts at No. 18 and M.O.P.'s Warriorz checks in at No. 25, while Flesh-N-Bone's Fifth Dog Lets Loose stumbled out of the gate at No. 98.


Luke defends Iverson on TV
A pair of interesting guests with ties to hip-hop history turned up Tuesday night on Jim Rome's "The Last Word" on Fox Sports Net to discuss the controversy surrounding
Allen Iverson's upcoming album. C. Delores Tucker, who was a thorn in 2Pac and Death Row Records' side about five years back, and Luther Campbell, who has been at the heart of the music censorship issue since 2 Live Crew's As Nasty As They Wanna Be was "Banned In The U.S.A." more than ten years ago, offered predictably different opinions on the subject. Tucker rarely gave Luke a chance to speak (or Rome for that matter), choosing instead to interrupt them by repeating herself over and over again. But Luke got the last laugh, directing the cameraman to pull back at the end of the show to reveal that Indianapolis Colts running back Edgerrin James had been sitting next to him in the studio the whole time. The two of them had just finished working on a track before the interview, and Luke asked, "What kind of album do you think he's gonna put out?" As far as Iverson, he finally backed off his previous stance and agreed to change some of the offensive lyrics on his album, Non-Fiction, before it drops in February. A talk with NBA commissioner David Stern apparently convinced Iverson to make the adjustments.


Join Outkast in The Dungeon
Outkast fans can win a chance to join the Atlanta duo in the studio just prior to the release of their highly anticipated fourth album, Stankonia. Click2Music is sponsoring a contest that will fly one lucky fan to Atlanta on Oct. 30 for a performance that will be broadcast live on MSN.com. The next day Andre 3000 and Big Boi will drop an album that people already are calling a classic. The album is in such high demand that the group released a statement asking fans not to pirate the music from the internet: "As artists, we appreciate the anticipation our fans have for our music. However, it is also very important for us to present the music in a creative format that is representative of our personalities, as our fans expect nothing less. We should have control over how our music is presented to our fans, and we feel that it is a creative invasion to spread our unfinished album over the net, without our knowledge. We feel musically and personally offended." But Outkast shouldn't worry, because you know people are going to be checking for Dre's artwork on the actual CD. At least all the bootlegging doesn't seem to have soured their taste for the internet. The group will participate in several upcoming online chats to promote the release of Stankonia. Besides the MSN chat on Oct. 30 at 10:30 p.m. ET, they also will visit Vibe on Nov. 2 at 9 p.m. and AOL on Nov. 9 at 9 p.m.


More news on Shade Sheist, Scarface and Busta Rhymes


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