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Mobb Deep debuts at No. 1, No. 22
Mobb Deep's Infamy will make a modest debut at No. 22 on next week's Billboard 200 albums chart, but the duo's fifth album managed to move enough units to take the top spot on Billboard's R&B/Hip-Hop albums chart. Technically, it was Infamy's second week on the R&B/Hip-Hop chart since there were enough street date violations to earn the album the No. 80 slot last week.
Method Man and Redman's "How High" soundtrack checked in at No. 43 on the Billboard 200 and No. 6 on the R&B/Hip-Hop chart, while Warren G made his mark at No. 89 and No. 14 with The Return of the Regulator. On the singles side, Ja Rule was able to secure a second week with two hits in the top 10. "Livin' It Up" featuring Case fell from No. 8 to No. 10, but "Always on Time" featuring Ashanti jumped from No. 9 to No. 7. Next week is sure to be full of familiar names as well, as the Wu-Tang Clan's Iron Flag, Nas' Stillmatic, Jay-Z's Unplugged and Mystikal's Tarantula are among the releases that will storm the charts.


Missy Elliott's Lamborghini gets wrecked
An employee of a California towing company was jailed after he took a joyride in
Missy Elliott's Lamborghini Diablo and wrecked it. Joseph Thomas Johnson, a dispatcher at Century Inc., was charged Tuesday with grand larceny, reckless driving, hit and run and driving while being a habitual offender. Elliott had hired the company to transport her purple 2001 Lamborghini accross the country to her home in Virginia Beach. Johnson allegedly took the car out for a spin around 3 a.m. on Oct. 9, running over a speed limit sign before slamming into a tree and abandoning the vehicle just three miles from his company's headquarters. The brief trip caused $161,000 worth of damage to the $311,000 car.


New Eazy-E EP, DVD on the way
To commemorate the seventh anniversary of Eazy-E's death, Ruthless Records plans to release a DVD chronicling his life and career as well as an EP containing eight previously unreleased tracks. The DVD, titled "Impact of a Legend," and the EP, The Godfather of Gangsta Rap, are slated to hit stores on March 26, the same date Eazy died of complications from AIDS in 1995. Impact of a Legend will be a collection of interviews, videos and concert footage, and also will include a comic book and interactive video game. There was talk at the time of his death that Eazy-E had more than 80 unreleased tracks completed, but only two previous posthumous albums have surfaced -- the 14-track Str8 Off the Streets of Compton and a greatest hits CD, Eternal E. Erick Sermon also unearthed one of those unused tracks for a song on his Erick Onasis project last year.


Jay-Z: Feud with Nas 'went too far'
Jay-Z appeared on Hot 97 late last week to apologize for the level that his lyrical battle with Nas has dropped to. The appearance was prompted by a phone call from his mother, who did not approve of her son's latest answer record, "Super Ugly." "Mom put in a call and said, 'That went too far.' And she's never, ever called me about music. So I was like 'Okay, okay, okay. I'll go shut it down,'" Jay-Z told Angie Martinez, who earlier in the week premiered "Super Ugly" on her show. However, Jigga did not take sole responsibility for the issue, instead saying that he wished he hadn't stooped to the level of his competition by bringing the mother of Nas' child into it. "Once again, I apologize. I felt like I didn't think about women's feelings or [Nas' former girlfriend's] feelings, or even my mom. It was really like, 'Let me meet your level of disrespect with this level of disrespect.'" Jay-Z also said that he figured the track, an answer to Nas' "Ether," would get plenty of airtime on local mixtapes, but he never expected it to get heavy rotation on the radio. "Freestyles usually go away in two weeks," he said. "I didn't know it was gonna be the official battle of the beats, seven-hour marathon. It was an answer to disrespect. I didn't go in the studio to make a song. I made a two-minute freestyle." Jay-Z, who has taken the high road or made subtle digs in previous disputes with other MCs, also explained why Nas drove him to an all-out attack on "Takeover," a track off The Blueprint. Apparently, after Beanie Sigel dissed Nas during a freestyle session on Hot 97, Nas called Jigga to call a truce. But only a short time later, Nas dissed Jay during an interview on a Los Angeles radio station. "For me it was like a sport. 'Takeover' was like a sport," Jay said. "I respected dude lyrically. I feel like I'm on top of my game. I don't feel you can compare his career to my career, but that's just my opinion. It just pushes everybody to sharpen their skills. That's what rap is about. It's a competitive sport." The rivals get a chance to go head-to-head Tuesday when Jay-Z's Unplugged album and Nas' Stillmatic are released in stores.


Naughty By Nature tours Africa
Naughty By Nature completed a brief tour in Africa last weekend, stopping off in three Nigerian cities in a landmark series of shows that was being referred to by the local press as "one of the most successful events in the history of entertainment in this country." The "Legend Fun Rampage with Naughty by Nature" hit the ancient city of Benin on Dec. 6, moved on to Lagos on Dec. 7 and wrapped up in Ibadan on Dec. 8. "Naughty By Nature is back home to the motherland," Vinnie said at a press conference upon their arrival. "We are here to see the people, know them and learn from them. We want to see and take from the culture too." When asked who he'd thank for making the trip to Africa possible, Treach responded, "I ain't gonna thank no one for bringing me home to my home 'cause this is my home. It's my right to be here. I'm a black man, and I'm proud to be one." In other Naughty news, Treach begins filming in Miami this month for his role in a new HBO series called "Baseball Wives." The series, which deals with life of professional baseball player's wife, will air next spring. Speaking of spring, Naughty By Nature's first offering on TVT Records, Iicons, has been pushed back to March. No word on whether advance bootlegging was part of the reason for the switch, but Vinnie certainly had plenty to say about the topic in a recent interview with MTV. "All the bootlegging, it definitely hurts the labels, it definitely hurts the artists," Vinnie said. "Consumers can buy one CD and get an unlimited amount for free. Copy-protected CDs are definitely a good thing. With all the techies and hackers out there, you will always be able to get around it, but just to make it not so simple is worth it. The labels should put up a front to show that, yes, we are doing something to begin to combat the bootlegging thing."


P. Diddy pops up on new tour
I thought he told you that he won't stop. Even if it means opening for Britney Spears. Apparently no longer content with just having a quartet of teen pop princesses on his label, P. Diddy has joined forces with the genre's current queen. In a move that might finally find him banished from the pages of hip-hop magazines once and for all, the man formerly known as Puffy will open the last two dates of Spears' current tour. To catch this 'historic' pop music event, you'll have to be in Miami on Dec. 19 or Washington D.C. on Dec. 21. Wasn't it just 1997 that Puffy was headlining a tour in support of his multi-platinum album, No Way Out? How quickly times change.


2Pac film still in the works
MTV is moving forward with plans to film a documentary about the life and death of 2Pac. The 411 Online first reported on the project
in July 1999. The documentary will include previously unreleased footage, poetry, letters and photos of 2Pac, who died Sept. 13, 1996, six days after being shot four times in a drive-by shooting in Las Vegas. His mother, Afeni Shakur, will serve as executive producer. "The past five years have been extremely painful watching and listening while others incorrectly attempted to define who my son really was," Shakur said Monday in an interview with The Associated Press. "Now, through patience, the strength of my family, and faith in God, the true story of 2Pac will finally be shared with the world."


Alleged bully is latest to sue Eminem
An alleged eighth-grade bully that
Eminem called out by name on his debut album has filed a $1 million lawsuit against the rapper in Macomb County Circuit Court, according to a report in the Detroit Free Press. DeAngelo Bailey, a sanitation worker in Roseville, Mich., claims that Eminem's verbal attack on "Brain Damage" off his 1999 debut, The Slim Shady LP, has damaged his reputation and made his attempts to move into a new career as an MC difficult. "In his music lyrics, Eminem falsely portrayed himself as the victim of a pattern of outrageous and grotesque physical abuse from his childhood friend Bailey," the lawsuit states. "Eminem publicized lyrics that were intended to damage Bailey in order to improve Eminem's reputation as a rap artist." The lyrics in question are as follows: "I was harassed daily by this fat kid named DeAngelo Bailey/ An eighth-grader who acted obnoxious, cause his father boxes/ So every day he'd shove me into the lockers/ And he had me in the position to beat me into submission/ He banged my head against the urinal until he broke my nose/ Soaked my clothes in blood, grabbed me and choked my throat." Bailey's attorney, Nicholas Hanzes, said the accusations made in the lyrics are false. "He completely denies that he harassed Eminem daily, shoved him into lockers, and engaged in a violent fight described in the song," Hantzes told the Free Press. No reason was given as to why it took Bailey so long to file charges, but Eminem's lawyer, Peter Peacock, thinks that Bailey is just the latest name from the past trying to cash in. "From all I can tell, this is a case of 'I'll file a lawsuit and see if I can get some money,'" Peacock said in an interview with the Free Press. So, how long until someone named Ken Kaniff comes out of the woodwork?


Wu-Tang, Mobb Deep tracks become ringtones
Loud Records announced Monday that it is offering new tracks from upcoming albums by Wu-Tang Clan and Mobb Deep as free ringtones for use on cell phones and two-way pagers. "Hey Luv" and "Burn" off Mobb Deep's new album, Infamy, and Wu-Tang's "Pinky Ring," "Ya'll Been Warned" and "Rules" from next week's Iron Flag have been made available at Zingy.com. The deal is reportedly the first in the U.S. to offer music for use on cell phones before the album is released. "Cell phones are so widely used that ringtones are one of the best ways to promote our music," said Loud Records chairman Steven Rifkind, who said the promotion is targeted at teenagers while citing research that claims that 82 percent of 14- to 16-year-olds own a mobile phone. Worldwide ringtone sales are expected to top $200 million this year due to their popularity overseas.


Simmons moves operations south
Russell Simmons is moving his hip-hop headquarters south. Not too far south, though. Just one block away from his current digs in the heart of Manhattan's hip-hop fashion world.
Jay-Z's Roc-a-Wear offices are in Simmons' former building at 530 Seventh Avenue. P. Diddy's Sean John line has space across the street at 525 Seventh and on West 37th Street. And Snoop Dogg's showroom is at Broadway and 39th Street. Simmons plans to move his empire, including Rush Entertainment and Phat Farm, to a triplex penthouse at 512 Seventh Avenue late next month. The rent for the 15,000-plus square foot space reportedly is $42 per square foot.


Ja Rule performs for troops
Ja Rule was among the artists who traveled to Germany's Ramstein Air Force Base over the weekend to perform for U.S. troops. The show, which also included Jennifer Lopez and Kid Rock, lasted nearly three hours and left soldiers dancing on top of tanks and airplanes. The performances will be trimmed down and packaged into a 90-minute holiday special called "For the Troops: An MTV/USO Special" that will air New Year's Day on MTV. In other news, Ja Rule plans to reunite with 0-1 and Chris Black for a Cash Money Click album. Cash Money Click dropped "4 My Click" and "Get the Fortune" in 1996, and a preview of the reunion can be found on "Smokin' and Ridin'" off Ja Rule's recently released Pain Is Love. Due to the popularity of New Orleans' Cash Money Millionaires, the crew will be marketed by TVT Records as CMC. Also, Ja and Ludacris were announced as presenters for next year's American Music Awards, which will air Jan. 9 on ABC.


Nas reenacts 2Pac, Biggie shootings
The deaths of 2Pac and Notorious B.I.G. continue to haunt
Nas, and now his obsession has led him to the brink of bad taste. In 1999, Nas penned a tribute to 2Pac and Biggie called "We Will Survive" that was fueled by a Kenny Loggins sample and was a single from the first of two albums that year, I Am. For his latest single, "Got Ur Self A Gun," Nas has crafted a video that reenacts the murders of two of hip-hop's biggest stars. Nas claims the video and single, which samples the theme song from "The Sopranos," is just a testament to his dedication to the culture. "I love hip-hop, and they died for hip-hop," Nas told MTV. "And I just wanted to represent their love for hip-hop by reenacting the scenes the last time we saw them. A lot of other artists were ripping them off, and I just wanted to pay homage to those brothers in a big way. I didn't want nobody to forget about them, the originators." Nas said he made an effort to get in touch with those that might be affected the most by seeing those images replayed on a television screen over and over again. "I called Suge Knight and told him about it," Nas said. "He was real cool about it. We spoke to Puffy, and he was kinda taken aback... it took him a minute to really respond. I had somebody get in touch with Voletta Wallace (Biggie's mother), and she wanted to get back to us. It's a touchy situation and by no way did I want to show any disrespect. With 'Hate Me Now,' I've been through a controversial video with Puffy and Steve Stoute over the cross thing. And that's one thing (about a video), if it doesn't give you goose bumps, then it's nothin'." Stillmatic will hit stores Sept. 18.


Jay-Z sentenced to 3 years probation
As expected, prosecutors revealed that
Jay-Z was sentenced to three years probation for stabbing record executive Lance "Un" Rivera nearly two years ago at a Manhattan nightclub. Jay-Z, whose real name is Shawn Carter, pleaded guilty in October to misdemeanor assault, admitting that he stabbed Lance Rivera at the Kit Kat Club during Q-Tip's album release party on Dec. 1, 1999. According to police reports, Jay accused Rivera of making and selling counterfeit copies of one of his recordings, then stabbed him with a 5-inch knife at least twice. As part of a plea agreement, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Micki Scherer sentenced Jay-Z, who turned 31 on Tuesday, to three years probation. Rivera did not file a suit, and the two reportedly settled out of court for between $500,000 and $1 million. Jay did not issue a statement, but his lawyer, Ben Brafman, said his client was pleased the case had been resolved.


P. Diddy settles child support case
Sean "P. Diddy" Combs and model Kim Porter have reached a settlement in their legal battle over child support for their 3-year-old son. Terms of the deal were not disclosed in court documents, but it is expected to provide support for his youngest child, Christian Casey Combs, until he turns 21. Porter's lawyer, Suzanne Bracker, initially said that the settlement totaled more than $4.5 million, but representatives for P. Diddy disputed that number, saying it was too high. Bracker later said her comments were misinterpreted. "The terms of the settlement are private," said Combs, who had been paying Porter a court-ordered $11,000 a month, according to Bracker. "The welfare of my children is always my first priority, and whatever I have, they have." P. Diddy reportedly pays fashion stylist Misa Hylton-Brim $5,000 a month in child support for his other son, 6-year-old Justin.


The D.O.C prepares comeback
The D.O.C. is about to emerge from behind the scenes once again in an attempt to revive a career in the spotlight that was cut short by a tragic accident. Deuce will be the name of the West Coast hip-hop pioneer's third album and first since 1996. Probably the best-known ghostwriter before the arrival of Shawn Carter, The D.O.C. penned a good portion of Eazy-E's Eazy Duz It and N.W.A's Straight Outta Compton in the late '80s. In 1989, The D.O.C. made his solo debut with No One Can Do It Better and delivered hit singles like "It's Funky Enough" and "The Formula." With the help of Dr. Dre's Midas touch behind the boards, the album went gold. Late that year, The D.O.C. was involved in a car accident that crushed his larynx and changed his voice to an icy rasp. At the time there was talk that he'd never be able to rap again. When Dre made the move to Death Row, The D.O.C. went with him and helped deliver yet another classic album, The Chronic, and tutored a young protege, Snoop Dogg, through the early stages of the game. After a falling out over money, The D.O.C. dropped Helter Skelter, an album peppered with shots at his former partners, in 1996. By the time Dre started to work on his next album, 1999's 2001, fences had been mended and The D.O.C. made a memorable return in the video for "Still D.R.E." Now, The D.O.C. is back with Deuce, an album he hopes will put his hometown of Dallas on the hip-hop map. The D.O.C. has recruited the area's finest talent, most notably 6Two, who made a strong debut on Dre's 2001. The D.O.C. will also get help from some old friends as MC Ren, Ice Cube, Kurupt and Xzibit lend their voices to a couple of tracks. Deuce is slated to hit stores early next year.


DMX given special Billboard award
DMX was given a special award for having his first four albums debut at No. 1, but beyond that it was not a very successful night for hip-hop at the Billboard Awards. To start off Tuesday's show at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, host Bernie Mac offered a few tips on acceptance speeches and called out "all you rappers." "Don't bring up the whole neighborhood," Mac said. "You don't need 59 people to pick up one trophy." It turned out Mac had nothing to worry about, because there weren't too many MCs that made the trip up to the podium. R&B and hip-hop were combined into one convenient category and R. Kelly made a clean sweep of all six trophies he was up for, while Jill Scott won the only other R&B/hip-hop award -- Female Artist of the Year. The Billboard Awards are pretty cut and dry since they're based on the charts, but there's still some confusion as to just how they divide the categories. Ja Rule and Jay-Z apparently generated enough sales and airplay to be noted as "nominees" for R&B/Hip-Hop Artist of the Year (which one would assume is a broader category than "rap"), but Lil' Romeo took home Rap Artist of the Year. So Ja and Jay were two of the top four R&B/Hip-Hop artists, but neither one of them was the top rap artist? Lil' Bow Wow's "Bow Wow (That's My Name)" was named Rap Single of the Year in the only other hip-hop-related award. Eve performed twice at the show -- once with Alicia Keys and Angie Stone and also at the end of the broadcast with an all-star cast of performers that included Jermaine Dupri, Nelly and P. Diddy for a version of the recently released remake of Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On."


Cube discusses N.W.A, leaving Priority
Ice Cube's long tenure with Priority Records ended when his Greatest Hits hit stores Tuesday, but he hopes that another venerable relationship still has life. Cube says that he still plans to reunite with Dr. Dre, MC Ren, DJ Yella and Snoop Dogg for an N.W.A reunion album, but that if they're going to do it, it has to be done right. "It's easier said than done," Cube said in an interview with Rolling Stone. "There are a lot of expectations with that record, and if we don't have time to meet those expectations, it's better not to do it than to go in and half-ass it." Cube first talked publicly of a reunion in October 1999, and the group made it official a month later when they announced that they recorded a track for the "Next Friday" soundtrack and had plans to release an album titled Not These N----- Again by Christmas 2000. Since then, there's been a steady timeline of events and delays: The group performed live together for the first time in over a decade in March 2000; a second single was released on Cube's War & Peace Vol. 2 in April 2000; all members of the new N.W.A were included in the lineup of Dre's "Up In Smoke" tour that summer; DJ Yella announced that he had joined the effort in July 2000; Dre announced that the reunion was on hold in December 2000; and Rakim joined the Aftermath lineup in January, adding to speculation that the N.W.A project was indefinitely on hold and was dangerously close to going the route of Dr. Dre and Ice Cube's Helter Skelter. Maybe at the very least they can all get together and record another track for the "Friday After Next" soundtrack, since that flick is currently in production and Cube cited it as at least part of the reason for his lack of participation in the N.W.A project. "Friday After Next" is slated for a Thanksgiving 2002 release, which means they've got almost a year to get a song together. As for his future as a solo artist, Cube is thinking big. "It's time for me to go with a bigger label and do the kinds of things my career deserves," Cube said in an interview with Billboard. "When you've been with an indie and see the money that goes into an Interscope or a Def Jam, you realize there's no way to compete in terms of spending those kinds of dollars."


Meth, Red begin 'How High' tour
Redman and Method Man will spend the entire month of December out on the road promoting their upcoming movie and soundtrack. Red and Meth's "How High" tour debuts Sunday at the Celebrity Theatre in Phoenix and will hit 17 cities between now and the end of the year, wrapping up Dec. 30 in Miami. Their movie of the same name hits the cinemas Dec. 21 and the soundtrack to the film will be released Dec. 11. Hitting the road together brings back fond memories of another tour. "I hope Jay-Z starts another 'Hard Knock Life' tour," Redman told MTV. "That's what I'm waiting on. Come on, Jay-Z... Start that tour up and throw me and Method Man on there, 'cause you know we're blowing the spot. I don't care who you're putting on that tour -- we're blowing the spot." Redman and Method Man were the opening act for DMX and Jay-Z on a 54-city U.S. tour that generated $18 million in 1999. "I don't even mind going first, still," Meth added.

The complete schedule: 12/2 Phoenix, AZ @ Celebrity Theatre; 12/3 Anaheim, CA @ House of Blues; 12/4 Las Vegas, NV @ House of Blues; 12/5 Los Angeles, CA @ House of Blues; 12/11 Chicago, IL @ House of Blues; 12/14 Detroit, MI @ State Theatre; 12/15 Cleveland, OH @ Agora Theatre; 12/16 Columbus, OH @ PromoWest Pavilion; 12/17 Norfolk, VA @ The Boathouse; 12/19 New York, NY @ Hammerstein Ballroom; 12/21 Worchester, MA @ The Palladium; 12/22 Philadelphia, PA @ Electric Factory; 12/23 Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club; 12/26 Myrtle Beach, SC @ House of Blues; 12/27 Atlanta, GA @ DeKalb Atlanta Center; 12/28 Lake Buena Vista, FL @ House of Blues; 12/30 Miami, FL @ TBA.


More news on Snoop Dogg, Jay-Z and The Coup...


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