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Jay-Z's Blueprint will arrive early
Due to overwhelming demand by fans and retailers alike,
Jay-Z and Roc-A-Fella Records officially have announced that Jay's sixth album, The Blueprint, will be released Sept. 11 -- two weeks earlier than planned. Originally scheduled for release on Sept. 25 and then Sept. 18, this date change is an unprecedented move for any recording artist and a testament to Jay-Z's popularity. Demand began when he premiered the lead single "Izzo (H.O.V.A.)" on the BET Awards in June. Excitement was then heightened when he brought Michael Jackson on stage at Nassau Coliseum during the Hot 97 Summer Jam in New York. Since those appearances and the debut of the video for "Izzo," fans have been flooding both independent and chain retailers requesting Jay-Z's upcoming release. The Blueprint, which Jay-Z describes as his most "soulful" album, features production by Just Blaze, Kanye West, Timbaland, Poke & Tone, Bink and Eminem, who also appears on the song "Renegade." In support of The Blueprint, Jay-Z will embark on a nationwide theatre tour beginning on Sept. 14 in Columbus, Ohio. The video for the next single, "Girls, Girls, Girls," will be shot this month in Los Angeles.

Aaliyah dies in plane crash
Aaliyah and eight others died Saturday when their small plane crashed after taking off in the Bahamas. The 22-year-old singer and actress had just filmed a video for her next single, "Rock the Boat," on Abaco Island. The twin-engine Cessna 402B was bound for Opa-locka, Fla., when it went down about 6:50 p.m. Saturday in clear skies, roughly 200 feet from the end of the runway at Marsh Harbour airport -- 100 miles north of Nassau. According to investigators, six people, including Aaliyah, died instantly. The three others later died from their injuries. It is believed that the Cessna's engines failed, but U.S. and Bahamian aviation officials are still searching for clues. They are investigating whether excess weight from baggage and equipment contributed to the crash. Two local newspapers, The Tribune and The Freeport News, on Monday quoted a baggage handler who refused to be identified but said he warned the pilot that the plane was too heavy for a safe takeoff. Aaliyah's body was put onto a private jet and flown to Newark, N.J., on Tuesday. Funeral details are being kept private. Aaliyah was just 15 when her debut album dropped in 1994. Age Ain't Nothing But A Number went gold on the strength of the hit single "Back & Forth." Her second album, One In A Million, was released in 1996, and the single "If Your Girl Only Knew" went double platinum. She did not release another album until this year's self-titled offering dropped on July 17, but she stayed in the public eye with hit singles from soundtracks, guest appearances on other artists' albums, and her critically acclaimed acting debut in last year's "Romeo Must Die." Her song "Try Again" from that movie's soundtrack earned her a Grammy nomination for best female R&B vocalist, duplicating the feat she accomplished in 1998 with "Are You That Somebody?" from the "Dr. Dolittle" soundtrack. Aaliyah also had signed on to appear in two sequels to "The Matrix," and has a starring role in the upcoming movie, "Queen of the Damned."

Lil' Cease arrested in shooting
Lil' Cease and two others have been charged in connection with a shooting outside a New York deli, according to the Associated Press. A bodyguard for Cease's group, Junior M.A.F.I.A., was arrested Friday shortly after the 12:15 a.m. shooting. Bodyguard Suif Jackson was picked up by police after exiting a car that witnesses had placed at the crime scene. Police said Cease and Banger, another member of Junior M.A.F.I.A., were arrested later at La Guardia Airport. All three were charged with attempted murder, reckless endangerment and criminal possession of a weapon. Two 9 mm handguns found in a hidden compartment in the car were registered to
Lil' Kim. Lil' Cease and Banger also were arrested in March after narcotics officers on a stakeout watched them attempt to buy marijuana from a dealer on 151st Street in New York, and also are being investigated in connection with a Feb. 25 shooting outside the offices of Hot 97 that left one man in the hospital.

Daz sues Death Row Records
Daz has filed a lawsuit against Death Row Records, claiming that label CEO Suge Knight cheated him out of more than $1 million. Daz, whose real name is Delmar Arnaud, was down with Death Row from day one, appearing on its debut album, Dr. Dre's The Chronic, in 1992 and signing with the label in 1993. Daz also appeared to be Death Row's most loyal inmate, staying with the struggling label even after 2Pac died and many of its most popular artists, including Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg and Daz's Dogg Pound partner, Kurupt, left. However, the lawsuit alleges that Daz was threatened with physical violence if he didn't sign re-negotiated contracts with Death Row in 1997 and 1998. Daz wrote more than 100 songs between 1993 and 1999 for the label, and the lawsuit claims his work generated more than $15 million in record sales. "Death Row and Suge Knight exploited Daz shamelessly. They collected tens of millions of dollars in record sales and royalties. Greed knew no bounds at Death Row," according to the lawsuit filed last week in Los Angeles Superior Court.

ODB gets 2-4 years in jail
ODB, who pleaded guilty in April to drug charges, was sentenced Wednesday to 2 to 4 years in prison, according to the Associated Press. The state Supreme Court judge also recommended that state correction authorities determine whether Ol' Dirty -- whose real name is Russell Jones -- needs psychiatric or substance abuse treatment. ODB was arrested in July 1999 when police found cocaine and marijuana in his car after he was pulled over for running a red light. He pleaded guilty to criminal possession of a controlled substance. Since 1987, Ol' Dirty has been wounded in shootings and arrested on a number of charges, including drug possession, menacing security officers, illegally possessing body armor, driving with a suspended license, shoplifting and threatening a former girlfriend.

Sigel charged with assault
According to the Associated Press,
Beanie Sigel has been charged with kicking and punching a man who attempted to drive down a Philadelphia street that Sigel and his friends were standing on. This is the second time this year that assault charges filed against Sigel. The 27-year-old Roc-A-Fella MC, whose real name is Dwight Grant, was arrested Friday on Sigel Street -- the neighborhood street that serves as his namesake -- and charged with aggravated and simple assault. Police said Sigel and his friends were standing on the sidewalk when Frank Ferrer drove down the street and was unable to get past the group. Ferrer told police he got out of his pickup truck and was jumped, and that Sigel kicked and punched him while he was down. Ferrer was treated for a fractured rib, an eye injury and a concussion. In February, Sigel was accused of pouring a drink on a young woman and threatening her with a gun, but the charges were dropped when the victim failed to appear in court.

Puffy samples after all
Sean "P. Diddy" Combs recently told the Associated Press that his new album, The Saga Continues, was his most creative to date because it used no samples. "I think this is a show of a progression, being that I didn't use any samples, even though it wasn't planned out," Combs said at the time. "But I didn't really use any samples, and it progressed in a way that it went back to the basics." Press releases also stated that the album "is comprised of entirely original beats and music." But when the album dropped Tuesday, a quick look at the liner notes reveals that 12 of the 17 tracks sample from other songs. Puffy tried to explain it away by saying that there were no samples of major hits. "There is no Diana Ross sample there," Combs told the AP on Wednesday, referring to the sample he used on Notorious B.I.G.'s "Mo Money, Mo Problems" in 1997. "When anybody is talking about a sample, usually it's talking about a known sample. People always try to criticize me for using pop hits. We did not do that this time."

Fabolous prepares debut album
Most people have gotten to know Fabolous from his recent contribution to Lil' Mo's single and video, "Superwoman Pt. II." But true heads know that this 21-year-old Brooklyn native is no newcomer to the rap game. Back in 1998, mixtape king DJ Clue invited Fabolous to audition for one of his tapes. After hearing his barbed rhymes and smooth flow, Clue signed him to Desert Storm Records, the new label he and his production partner, Duro, had formed. Since then, Fabolous has been making his name on Clue's mixtapes and albums while finding time to bless R&B tracks such as 702's remix of "Where My Girls At" and Mariah Carey's remake of "Last Night a DJ Saved My Life." But all that's just a warmup for the main event -- the Sept. 18 release of his debut album, Ghetto Fabolous. The first single, "Can't Deny It" featuring Nate Dogg, already is starting to surface on the radio, and the rest of the album boasts tracks produced by Clue, Duro, Rockwilder, The Neptunes, Timbaland and Rick Rock.

St. Lunatics participate in hometown chat
The St. Lunatics will join their hometown newspaper for an online chat on Thursday at 9 p.m. ET.
Nelly, Ali, KyJuan, Murphy Lee, Slo Down and their manager, Tony Davis, will join St. Louis Post-Dispatch online entertainment editor Daniel Durchholz at Streetside Records in University City, Mo., for a live chat on Fans can log on to to submit questions, or if you're in the St. Louis area, you can attend the event in person. Only 150 tickets will go on sale for $20 Thursday morning at 10:30 a.m. ET at the Streetside Records Delmar store. All proceeds from the ticket sales will benefit Nelly’s charity, 4Sho 4Kids Foundation, Inc., a local St. Louis charity that benefits learning disabled children. "People in St. Louis have known about the St. Lunatics for some time," said Durchholz. " is giving people, not only throughout St. Louis, but all around the world, an opportunity to interact directly with the St. Lunatics. All people will have to do is register on the site and once they join the chat, they will be able to join the conversation with the St. Lunatics." The group recently released Free City, which is currently in the top 20 on Billboard's R&B albums chart.

Beanie Sigel reveals The Reason
Beanie Sigel dropped his sophomore album, The Reason, on Tuesday, an album he feels will give people a better feel for who he is. "On this album I really just gave 'em me," Beanie said in an interview with The 411 Online. "On The Truth there was a lot of songs that I put on the album that I really wasn't comfortable with, but I was trying to give people what I thought they wanted from me." He said fans of tracks like "What Your Life Like" and "What A Thug About" will be taken care of throughout The Reason. "I took it back to what got me signed, what made people want to listen to me. I just gave 'em raw beats and rhymes, man." Beanie also discussed the revelation that hip-hop artists are being targeted by police and his plans for a record company, a clothing line and a restaurant. Click here to read the whole interview...

Outkast wins 2 BET awards
Outkast was a double winner and Jay-Z, Eve, Nelly and Lil' Bow Wow also took home honors at the first BET Awards on Tuesday night. The event, which was hosted by Cedric the Entertainer and Steve Harvey, took place at the Paris Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. A total of 15 awards -- voted on by record executives, fans and the media -- were handed out. Matched up against nominees in both the R&B and hip-hop fields, Outkast was named best male group and their clip for "Ms. Jackson" won video of the year. Andre and Big Boi also performed, as did Jay-Z, who was named best male hip-hop artist. Other winners included Eve for best female hip-hop artist, Nelly for best new artist and Lil' Bow Wow, who won the viewer's choice award. Click here for a list of all the winners...

Shaq: Another title, another single
The battle between two of the NBA's most publicized MCs is over. Shaquille O'Neal and the Los Angeles Lakers defeated Allen Iverson and the Philadelphia 76ers four games to one in the NBA Finals. The Lakers celebrated their title repeat with a parade through downtown L.A., and Shaq, who not long ago announced that he was done with his music career, used the opportunity to introduce the world to his latest single -- a reworking of Rob Base & DJ E-Z Rock's "It Takes Two" that hits stores Tuesday. And now the debate begins on where this year's Laker team ranks among the all-time greats, despite the fact that they didn't even win 60 games and Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls still own four more titles than this version of "Showtime." Kool Mo Dee, a frequent contributor to the weekend edition Jim Rome's "The Last Word" on Fox Sports Net, discussed the topic on this week's show. Mo Dee said that the Lakers are benefiting from an era of "mediocrity" while the younger stars get ready to take over the league. "Athletically, they're there," Mo said, "but emotionally, mentally and spiritually they haven't reached that level."

Sermon takes family to J Records
Erick Sermon has signed a distribution deal with J Records that will bring the Def Squad, EPMD and the green-eyed bandit himself to Clive Davis' fledgling label. Sermon follows in the footsteps of Busta Rhymes, who moved his Flipmode Squad from Elektra to J earlier this year. The first release to be promoted under the new deal will be Sermon's latest solo effort, simply titled The Sermon, which is due in stores Aug. 7. His current single off the "What's The Worst That Could Happen" soundtrack, "Music," is getting heavy airplay thanks to creative editing that allows the late Marvin Gaye to be a part of both the song and the video. EPMD's first album since 1999's Out of Business is expected to be the next project on the schedule.

Jay-Z, ODB court dates pushed back
ODB and Jay-Z will have to wait until July to take the next steps in their respective courtroom dramas. Both had their scheduled court appearances postponed last week. Ol' Dirty's sentencing for cocaine possession, which was slated for Wednesday, June 13, was delayed until July 17 to allow the New York State Department of Probation to submit a more comprehensive report on his criminal, social, physical and mental history. Meanwhile, the start of Jay-Z's trial for the 1999 assault of Lance "Un" Rivera was pushed back again. Jury selection is now scheduled for July 16, but his next court date is June 26 for a hearing on a separate gun charge. Police allegedly found a weapon on Jay's bodyguard during a search outside a New York nightclub in April.

Nelly files complaint with TWA
Two of St. Louis' biggest names faced off Saturday.
Nelly filed a complaint with TWA after having run-ins with the pilot and a flight attendant on a trip from St. Louis to Denver. The St. Louis native claims that the flight attendant serving him in first class refused to give him a pillow, so he went to find one himself. But when he got up, the pilot reportedly ordered him back to his seat and threatened to have him arrested if he didn't. Nelly eventually received two pillows, but police officers were waiting for him when the plane arrived in Denver. When Nelly attempted to He said he tried to get the pilot's name, the officers told him to leave the gate or he would be arrested. "The way it escalated was a result of me being a black man," Nelly told the Associated Press. A spokesman for TWA, which is based in St. Louis, denied Nelly's report and said a witness would back up the airline's version. There was no word on whether Vanna White was sitting next to Nelly in first class.

Source Awards move to Miami
The Source Hip-Hop Music Awards are moving to Miami and hiring additional security in order to avoid the problems that caused last year's show to be shut down. The first Source Awards took place in New York in 1994, but the event went on a hiatus for three years after tensions escalated between the East and West Coast MCs in attendance at the 1995 show. The Source Awards returned in 1999 with a new location and a new television deal. The 1999 show took place at Hollywood's Pantages Theater before moving to the Pasadena Civic Center last year. Both aired on UPN, although the 2000 edition had to use footage taped after the event to fill out the broadcast after numerous scuffles broke out, including one between E-40 and a former associate. This year's Source Awards will again be broadcast by UPN, but tickets to the August event will be distributed by invitation only. Click here for the full list of nominees.

Triple-platinum Until the End of Time
2Pac's latest album, Until the End of Time, has been certified triple-platinum by the RIAA. The sales milestone moves 2Pac's career sales past the 33.5 million mark, more than double the number sold by the next closest MC (and that doesn't even include all of the illegal "Makaveli" bootlegs that have been sold). M.C. Hammer and the late Notorious B.I.G. sit at 16 million records sold with no likely prospects for new albums, with Biggie's limited recorded material and Hammer well past his platinum prime. 2Pac, on the other hand, has another double album scheduled to be released in Septmeber to coincide with the fifth anniversary of his death. 2Pac's previous posthumous collections include 1996's quadruple-platinum Don Killuminati: The Seven Day Theory, which was the only non-bootleg released under the alias Makaveli, and 1997's R U Still Down? (Remember Me). The rapper's Greatest Hits came in 1998 and has sold more than 9 million copies to date. Until the End of Time debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart after selling more than 426,800 copies in its first week.

Busta plans 2 albums in August
Busta Rhymes albums will be hitting the shelves twice in August. First, Rhino Records will release a greatest hits collection titled The Best Of Busta Rhymes on Aug. 7. Then, Busta drops his first offering on J Records -- appropriately titled Genesis -- on Aug. 21. The Best of Busta Rhymes not only will include solo hits like "Gimme Some More," "Woo Hah!" and "Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Could See," but will contain classic collaborations like "Scenario" with A Tribe Called Quest, "What's It Gonna Be?!" with Janet Jackson and "Sobb Story" from his days with Leaders Of The New School. Busta Rhymes released four solo albums on Elektra -- The Coming in 1996, When Disaster Strikes in 1997, Extinction Level Event in 1998 and Anarchy in 2000 -- before switching to J Records earlier this year.

FCC fines another radio station
For the second time this year, a radio station is being fined by the FCC for airing
Eminem's "The Real Slim Shady." KKMG-FM in Colorado Springs, Colo., faces a $7,000 for allegedly airing an edited version of the track. The station contends that the version that was played was supplied by the record company and was not indecent. In fact, a program director for a radio station in Denver told the Associated Press that the version in question is the same version that was played on most urban and pop stations throughout the summer of 2000. "Virtually every pop, Top-40 station played that song,'' said Cat Collins, the program director at KQKS-FM. "That was a No. 1 record. It was the kind of record that stations played 65 to 70 times a week." The complaint that led to the fine was filed by a KKMG listener in July 2000, but the station was not notified of the fine until June 1. Station officials have 30 days to respond to the complaint.

P. Diddy plans solo album
Puff Daddy apparently missed the memo that his solo career peaked in 1997. Ignoring the cool reception to his last effort, Forever, Sean "Puffy" Combs plans to release a third solo album this summer under his new stage name, P. Diddy. And he's bringing "The Family" back, too. Of course, they've been rechristened "The Bad Boy Family" and likely won't include Notorious B.I.G., Mase or the Lox. (In other words, the MCs that made Puff's 1997 solo debut, No Way Out, a success.) "It started off as a compilation and it turned into my album," P. Diddy said in an interview with MTV. "We're taking it back to the way No Way Out was. If you love hip-hop and you just wanna dance and have a good time, that's what this album is about." P. Diddy and the Bad Boy Family's The Saga Continues is tentatively scheduled for a July 10 release. Meanwhile, P. Diddy's former girlfriend, Kim Porter, is asking a Manhattan Family Court to formally name Puff as the father of her son, Christian Casey Combs. Puffy's admits that the boy is his, but the formal declaration will allow Porter to get her hands on 17 percent of the Bad Boy CEO's adjusted gross income. (Maybe she saw the numbers Eminem's Kim was getting and got jealous.)

Shyne sentenced to 10 years
Shyne was sentenced to 10 years in prison Friday for shooting and wounding two people during a dispute between Sean "Puffy" Combs and another man in a Times Square nightclub. Shyne, whose real name is Jamaal Barrow, admitted during the trial that he pulled out a gun and fired during the disturbance at Club New York on Dec. 27, 1999. Before the sentence was handed down, Shyne recited the Lord's Prayer, apologized to the victims, and asked the court for leniency. State Supreme Court Justice Charles Solomon said that although Shyne was smart and talented, he couldn't look past the fact that he had fired a gun in a nightclub "as crowded as a subway in rush hour." Shyne was charged with first-degree assault, gun possession and reckless endangerment. Puffy and his bodyguard, Anthony "Wolf" Jones, were acquitted of bribery and gun possession. Although Shyne did not receive the maximum penalty of 25 years in prison, Puffy released a statement calling Shyne's sentence "unfair and extreme." "I know he had no intention of hurting anyone," Puff said in the statement. "My prayers are with him and his family. I'm shocked by today's outcome. I will continue to support Shyne throughout his appeal."

Eminem contests child support
Eminem claims that $142,480 a year is and excessive amount of child support for his 5-year-old daughter. His unemployed wife says even that amount is not enough based on court records that suggest Eminem has an income of $2.7 million per year. The dollar amount was suggested by the Macomb County Friend of the Court in a recommendation filed earlier this month. It stated that Eminem should pay $2,740 a week in child support to Kimberly Mathers, $156 a week toward health insurance and 90 percent of any expected child care costs. Eminem and Kim were married in June 1999, legally separated in August 2000, and briefly reunited before Kim filed for divorce in March. The couple agreed at that time to share joint custody of their daughter, Hailie Jade.

Missy Elliott performs live online
Missy Elliott's first live performance in three years will be captured in a live webcast for AOL members on May 31. The performance, which will take place at the Brixton Academy in London, comes on the heels of Elliott's new album, Miss E...So Addictive, debuting at No. 2 on this week's Billboard 200 albums chart and No. 1 on the Billboard R&B albums chart. The concert performance will be accessible live on AOL at 4 p.m. ET the day of the event and will be archived on the site through June 3. Starting June 4, the show will be available on-demand for 180 days on the Warner Bros. web site. Elliott already has two platinum-plus solo albums under her belt, and based on the success of the first single, she can expect Miss E...So Addictive to do as well or better. "Get Ur Freak On" has held the top spot on both urban and mainstream radio charts for the past 3 weeks.

Redman, Sticky Fingaz drop albums
Two of hip-hop's most animated characters delivered albums on Tuesday.
Redman's fifth solo album, Malpractice, hits stores with high expectations, as both of Red's last two efforts -- 1998's Doc's Da Name 2000 and 1999's collaboration with Method Man, Blackout! -- eclipsing platinum status. Meth will team up with Redman once again on this album, as will Treach, Scarface, Missy Elliott, George Clinton and Def Squad partners Erick Sermon and Keith Murray. Sticky Fingaz, on the other hand, is dropping his solo debut after three albums as a part of Onyx. Black Trash: The Autobiography of Kirk Jones is a concept album that follows the adventures of Kirk Jones, an ex-convict voiced by Omar Epps that falls back into a life of crime. "I'm erasing the line between movies and music," Sticky said. "This album was effortless. I could explore my imagination and be as creative as I wanted to. My whole career with Onyx, I don't think I smiled once. All people saw was the 'Throw Your Guns Up' dimension of me. But with this project I'm getting to explore a lot of different personas and ideas." Raekwon, Canibus, Redman, Eminem, Rah Digga and former Onyx partner Fredro Starr are among those that join Sticky on the album.

Child support will cost Eminem
A circuit court agency in Mount Clemens, Mich., has recommended that
Eminem pay $142,480 a year in child support. The Macomb County Friend of the Court recommendation suggests $2,740 per week in child support be paid to Eminem's wife, Kimberly A. Mathers. The recommendation, which also calls for Eminem to contribute $156 per week for health insurance and pay 90 percent of any child care costs, was filed last week as part of the couple's pending divorce case. Eminem and Kim agreed to joint custody of their 5-year-old daughter, Hailie Jade. Eminem will keep the couple's $450,000 home, but Kim will get $475,000 to buy a new home. Meanwhile, Eminem and his group, D-12, have announced that June 19 will be the release date for their debut album, Devil's Night.

Death Row wants Jayo Felony
Suge Knight has issued a public inviatation to Jayo Felony to join Death Row Records. A message posted on the Death Row's web site reads: "Wanted: Jayo Felony to become a Death Row inmate! For showing Snoop that it takes more than a couple of rent-a-Crips to be a gangsta!" Jayo has been rumored to be in discussions with the label for quite some time, and he will be featured on Death Row's latest compilation of old tracks by artists that are no longer with the record company. This time Daz and Kurupt's vintage recordings are unearthed for Tha Dogg Pound 2002, which is due in stores July 31. New tracks by the duo can be found on Dillinger & Young Gotti, an album released May 1 under the abbreviated name D.P.G.

Jay-Z trial slated for June
Jay Z's assault case has been pushed back to June 14 after a court date set for Wednesday was rescheduled because his lawyer, Murray Richman, is involved in a murder trail in the Bronx. Jay has been accused of stabbing record executive Lance "Un" Rivera on Dec. 1, 1999. In the meantime, Jay-Z has been working on his sixth album, tentatively titled The Blueprint. Jigga recently told MTV that he has 15 tracks done and might double that number by the time the album is released in November. "I usually make an album a year. Since Reasonable Doubt in '96, if you listen to any one of my albums it's just the emotion and what I felt at the time. I had a lot going on at the time, so I had a lot to write about. Anything that went on in the past year is definitely gonna be included on this album. I went in the studio one day, I made seven songs. From there it just was spilling. Now we up to 15. I don't know, I might make 30." Jay-Z also addressed the recent disses directed at him by Jayo Felony and Mobb Deep's Prodigy. "When you're on top of your game, everyone is frustrated, everyone wants to be in your position," Jay said. "It's ambition. That's what rap is built on. What it does to me, it makes the competitive sprit come out. Like, 'Yeah, lets do it.' It just gives me fire."

More news on the Keith Murray, De La Soul and 2Pac...

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