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Welcome to Nellyville
Move over, Eminem. Nellyville has arrived. Despite a four-week run at No. 1 in which The Eminem Show has sold no less than 500,000 in each of the last three weeks, there's another MC in town that just might have built up enough crossover appeal during the past two years to steal the throne. In 2000, it was no contest. Nelly surprisingly outsold Lil' Kim's overhyped The Notorious K.I.M. to debut at No. 3 during the sixth week of The Marshall Mathers LP's eight-week reign at the top. Country Grammar would get its day in the sun seven weeks later, embarking on its own five-week run at No. 1 before getting knocked out by L.L. Cool J. Between albums, guest spots introduced Nelly to a wider audience and the St. Louis native has become one of the most bankable artists in the game. Not only is a No. 1 debut for Nellyville anticipated, it's expected. All the pieces are in place, including a lead single, "Hot in Herre," that arrived atop the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart this week, right on time.


Da Brat, Mos Def, MC Lyte star in new film
Da Brat, Mos Def and MC Lyte are among the hip-hop artists with roles in "Civil Brand," a new film premiering in Miami's South Beach on Thursday. Urban Works will present "Civil Brand" at 7 p.m. at the Loews Miami Beach Hotel as part of the American Black Film Festival. The story centers around two inmates, played by LisaRaye and N'Bushe Wright, who lead the fight against the prison's profit-motivated private ownership and the abuse that takes place behind its bars. The film was written by Joyce Lewis and directed by Neema Barnette. "We are extremely proud to present this unique and timely film about a dilemma largely ignored by our communities -- black female imprisonment and its rapid growth in America," Barnette said. "'Civil Brand' was written by a Black woman, directed by a Black woman and stars the most talented and versatile Black women in the industry. We are truly making a strong statement in this film." Monica Calhoun, Tichina Arnold and Lark Voorhees also star.


Bad Boy, Arista part ways
Arista Records and Bad Boy Records have ended their relationship after nearly a decade. "I have enjoyed my successful partnership with Arista and most recently working with LA Reid," P. Diddy said in a press release. "I decided it was time to move my company to a new home and I wish L.A. the best and look forward to working with him in the future." The 411 Online first reported in January that P. Diddy was planning to become a free agent, but the move was not made official until Thursday. As part of the deal, P. Diddy will keep the entire Bad Boy catalog and all of his artists. Despite a rough 2001, P. Diddy has come back strong this year with several high-profile hosting gigs, a name that tops the gossip columns again instead of the crime report thanks to Jennifer Lopez's recent separation from her husband, and a new album, We Invented the Remix, that sits at No. 5 on the Billboard 200 albums chart. Not a bad stat sheet for a free agent.


Dr. Dre, Eminem sign 50 Cent
50 Cent reportedly has joined forces with Dr. Dre and Eminem. According to Launch, 50 Cent will release his sophomore album on Shady Records/ Aftermath Entertainment and it will be distributed through Interscope Records. 50 Cent is best known for "How To Rob," a song detailing an episode in which he jacks the likes of DMX, Master P and Lil' Kim that prompted responses from at least two of its targets, Jay-Z and Ghostface Killah. 50 Cent has fallen on some tough times since dropping his debut album, Power of the Dollar, in 1999. First, he was attacked at New York's Hit Factory recording studio in March 2000. At the time, a witness implicated Ja Rule in the attack, but no charges were ever filed. Two months later, 50 Cent was shot once in each leg and once in the jaw.


Eminem stays at No. 1
Eminem will keep his stranglehold on the top spot of the Billboard 200 albums chart for the fourth week in a row after posting sales of more than 500,000 units for the third straight week. The Eminem Show sold 529,000 copies last week, outselling its closest competition by more than 100,000 albums. Elsewhere on the chart, P. Diddy's We Invented the Remix drops a notch to No. 5, AZ's Aziatic makes a respectable debut at No. 29, and Daz's This Is the Life I Lead enters at No. 134.


Wyclef's free concert delayed
Wyclef Jean's free concert was postponed due to rain last Friday. Originally scheduled to take place at Coney Island's Astroland park, the venue for "Wyclef Jean Live: A Freedom Concert" was switched to the USS Intrepid aircraft carrier last week because of concerns about crowd control. The concert, which is part of a series promoted by the United States version of the Canadian MuchMusic channel, has been rescheduled for Thursday at Manhattan's South Street Seaport. MuchMusic USA originally had planned to air the taped concert at 9 p.m. and midnight ET on Thursday, but now a rebroadcast of an awards show will take its place and there has been no official word on when the concert will be aired. Wyclef's third solo album, Masquerade came out Tuesday.


Friends are worried about Lauryn
Fox News Channel is reporting that Lauryn Hill's relationship with a cult-like religious leader is causing concern among her friends. The man, who the friends referred to as a 'shaman' in the Fox interview, is being blamed for her erratic and reclusive behavior since the success of her Grammy-winning solo debut, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. The most public example was her appearance on MTV's "Unplugged," which was delayed several months by her record company because it reportedly was not happy with the songs or the performance. While it is believed Hill still splits time between homes in Miami and Jamaica with Rohan Marley and their two children, her friends are concerned that she might have run off with her new spiritual advisor. "This started right after Miseducation came out, and it's only gotten worse," the anonymous source told Fox. "She's not in touch with her parents. This guy has separated her from everyone."


Dr. Dre is among top earners
Dr. Dre came up $10 million short of being the music industry's top moneymaker in 2001. But don't feel bad for him. According to a report in Rolling Stone, Dre claimed the No. 2 spot behind U2 by netting $51.9 million. The magazine estimated that the bulk of his earnings came from the deal to sell 30 percent of Aftermath Entertainment to Interscope Records, but plenty of the balance came from his work as a producer. His contribution to Mary J. Blige's "Family Affair" reportedly brought in more than $2 million all by itself. Other hip-hop artists and entrepreneurs on the list included Master P at No. 6 ($36 million) Eminem at No. 19 ($19.4 million), Jay-Z at No. 46 ($9.3 million) and Nelly at No. 49 ($8.2 million).


L.L. Cool J returns to the road
L.L. Cool J kicks off a 43-date tour June 20 in Miami, hitting a variety of venues along the way before wrapping up at the Foxwoods Casino in Mashantucket, Conn., on Aug. 20. L.L. is hitting the road for the first time since 1998 to promote his new album, Ten, which doesn't have a firm release date but is expected to drop late this summer or early this fall. Visit L.L.'s official website (llcoolj.com) for the complete listing of dates. Dedicated fans also can sign up for L.L."Exclusive Unlimited Internet Access Plan" for $21.95 per month for two free tickets to his tour stop July 5 at the House of Blues in Chicago and a chance to meet him after the show.


Chuck D composes theme for ESPN
Chuck D and Gary G. Wiz continued their foray into theme music with a new composition produced for ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball. "I know baseball, so my whole thing is to make a lot of metaphors, don't go too far over people's heads," Chuck D told Rolling Stone. "I just tried to make something that's in line with 'Take Me Out to the Ballgame,' and a little bit of the Hank Williams Jr. ['Are You Ready for Some Football'] thing. What he did for Monday Night Football worked well, so all we had to do was follow that lead." ESPN broadcasters Jon Miller and Joe Morgan apparently have already given their seal of approval to the new music. "Joe Morgan is a hall of famer," Chuck said. "For him to compliment me on the theme, I was blown away by it." Public Enemy's latest album, Revolverlution, is scheduled to drop July 23 in conjuction with the group's 15th anniversary. The disc will feature eight new tracks, three live cuts, and four new versions of P.E. classics. "Shut Em Down," "Public Enemy No. 1," "B Side Wins Again" and "By the Time I Get to Arizona," were remixed by fans whose offerings were picked from nearly 500 submissions as part of an Internet promotion.


Eminem denies terrorist threats
Eminem released a statement denying reports that his new video, "Without Me," angered Osama Bin Laden with his impersonation of him. "Contrary to a fallacy reported in a British tabloid newspaper, there have been no threats made against Eminem. Any earlier reports of such are untrue, irresponsible, and inflammatory." A report in The Daily Star Thursday said that Eminem received death threats and increased security. "Eminem has had no choice but to take the threat very seriously," an anonymous source was quoted as saying in the paper. "He's hired more professional bodyguards to protect him and updated his home's security system. He's even consulted a specialist in counter-terrorism on what precautions to take." The report circulated on several news websites, some of which removed it after the statement revealing it to be false was released. Eminem's latest album, The Eminem Show, sold more than 808,000 copies last week to land in the top spot of the Billboard 200 albums chart for the third week in a row. The album's total sales already have surpassed 2.4 million. P. Diddy's We Invented the Remix is only three spots lower at No. 4 but more than 700,000 units behind in sales for the week. Cam'ron's Come Home With Me drops from No. 4 to No. 11, while the Soundbombing III compilation debuts at No. 23 and DJ Quik's Under Tha Influence enters the chart at No. 27.


Knoc-Turn'al album pushed back
Chalk up another casualty of bootlegging. Knoc-Turn'al's debut album, Knoc's Landin', has been postponed indefinitely by Elektra Records due to widespread advance distribution in the Los Angeles area. In its place will be an EP titled LA Confidential Presents... His single featuring Missy Elliott, "The Knoc," will appear on the EP, as well as a remix of "Str8 Westcoast" that features Warren G, Nate Dogg, Xzibit and Shade Sheist. Knoc has headed back into the studio with Dr. Dre to work on new tracks for a revamped version of the full-length album.


Project Pat senetnced to 4 years in jail
Three months after a Jackson, Tenn., jury found him guilty of possession of a firearm by a felon, Project Pat finally learned his fate. A judge sentenced Pat to 51 months in jail and three years of supervised release Tuesday. The Memphis MC, whose real name is Patrick Houston, will serve the sentences concurrently in Mason, Tenn., and will pay a $75,200 in fines and court costs. It could have been worse: Pat faced up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. While on parole for aggravated robbery in January 2001, Project Pat was stopped for speeding in Memphis and police found two guns. A federal jury in Memphis deadlocked earlier this year and the trial was moved to Jackson. A guilty verdict was handed down in March. Project Pat's Mista Don't Play was released last year and sold more than 500,000 copies. A second album, Layin' Da Smack Down, is due later this year.


R. Kelly booked on child porn charges
R. Kelly was booked on child pornography charges in Chicago on Friday just hours after posting bond at a central Florida jail. "I'm just looking forward to my day in court," Kelly told The Associated Press after arriving in Chicago on a private plane. He left the police station about an hour later after posting $75,000 bond and being ordered to appear in court June 26 to enter a plea. The 35-year-old was indicted by a Cook County grand jury Wednesday on 21 counts of child pornography stemming from a videotape that allegedly shows the singer having sex with an underage girl. If convicted, Kelly could be sentenced to 15 years in prison and fined $100,000. Kelly, who has denied he is the man on the tape, was arrested Wednesday at a house he rents near Davenport, Fla. He was jailed overnight before being released Thursday on $750,000 bond. The Florida judge ordered that he have no contact with minors outside of his family. As The 411 Online first reported in February, Chicago police launched an investigation just before Kelly's highly anticipated collaboration with Jay-Z, The Best of Both Worlds, was released. Jay-Z has since distanced himself from the singer, and the album was a disappointment.About 50 witnesses were interviewed before determining the tape showed Kelly and an underage girl, according to Chicago police and Cook County prosecutors. FBI forensics experts analyzed the tape and concluded it was authentic, they said. Cook County State's Attorney Richard Devine said the video was made in November 1997 or later and that the girl was born in September 1984. Kelly is the focus of at least four lawsuits, three of which accuse him of having sex with underage girls. He has acknowledged settling two of the lawsuits regarding underage sex, but his lawyers have said they will fight the third.


Foxy Brown gets label deal from Def Jam
Not only is Foxy Brown staying with Def Jam, but the record gave her a label to run as well. Foxy will serve as CEO of the newly formed Ill Na Na Entertainment, a product of the ongoing talks between Def Jam, Foxy and her brothers, Gavin and Anton Marchand. "I didn't want a subsidiary," Foxy said in the July issue of XXL. "I didn't want an imprint. I wanted a joint venture. I'm not just gonna put my logo on it. I'm Roc-A-Fella. I'm Murder Inc. I'm Bloodline. We went in there and demanded it. And Lyor [Cohen, Def Jam CEO] said to me, 'I've never seen an artist who's walked through the storm in the cold and come out unscathed and still going. You're 23, here's a label.'" The Marchands were upset about the way Foxy's critically acclaimed album, Broken Silence, was promoted last year and started looking elsewhere, including Bad Boy, before the deal was reached. Ill Na Na Part 2: The Fever will be the first release on Ill Na Na/Def Jam. It is scheduled to hit stores this fall.


Wyclef arrested at school protest
Wyclef Jean was among 10 people arrested Tuesday at a rally outside New York City's city hall protesting $1 billion in proposed education cuts. Wyclef reportedly was charged with disorderly conduct after he tried to perform without a permit. Russell Simmons and Jay-Z publicly campaigned this week for people to turn out for the protest. As a result, several other stars got involved, including P. Diddy, Foxy Brown, Noreaga and L.L. Cool J. "I'm here 'cause I think education is important," L.L. told MTV. "For me it's less about hip-hop and more about education. Kids being educated, anything that's gonna affect kids being educated in a negative way, I'm here to support the opposite. Everyone can't afford private school, so we need our public schools to be as laced-up as possible. ... There are a lot of places that we can take money from, I agree, but not education." The decision was postponed as a result of their efforts.


Jay-Z, P. Diddy protest school cuts in NY
Jay-Z and Russell Simmons are among those who plan to demonstrate in front of city hall in New York City to protest mayor Michael Bloomberg's proposed school cuts. In a recorded message airing on local radio stations, Jay-Z asks students and their parents to join the protest Tuesday. "At 2:30 p.m. I want you to get up and walk out of class and meet us at city hall. Come protest the more than $1 billion cuts. Let your voice be heard. I'm out of school. This is for you. Help us to help you. Let these elected officials know we elected them. They work for us." Simmons voiced his displeasure in Sunday's New York Daily News. "Hip-hop artists have the biggest mouths, bigger than any mayor in this country," Simmons said. "We've all been too silent about the cutbacks, but if hip-hop artists decide to help fight them, no one can beat them."


Eminem album debuts on Sunday
Eminem's new album, The Eminem Show, hit the street early thanks to bootleggers, but now Interscope has decided to follow suit and waste no more time getting the record out. In a statement released Friday, Interscope's Steve Berman announced that stores can begin selling the album two days earlier than its scheduled release date of May 28 -- in other words, on Sunday. "We found we were able to meet the demand and get The Eminem Show into the stores even earlier than expected," Berman said. "Our mandate as a company was to put the album in listeners' hands the way Eminem intended them to get it, and to do it as quickly as possible to battle the problems we were having with illicit copying. We saw no reason to have fans waiting until Tuesday in this particular case." While release dates get moved around often in the months leading up to a release, they never swayed from Tuesdays until now. The announcement came just a few days after Intercope had moved up the release date one week from June 4.


Nate Dogg gets probation
Nate Dogg was sentenced to one year of probation after pleading guilty Friday in Kingman, Ariz., to a misdemeanor charge of possession of marijuana. Nate was arrested April 12 after his tour bus was stopped for speeding and a search turned up marijuana and a loaded, stolen gun. He also received a $4,400 fine on Friday and was ordered to complete 24 hours of community service and eight hours of drug counseling. Nate had faced felony charges of possession of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of a stolen firearm and misconduct involving weapons while committing a felony. All the charges were dismissed except for the marijuana possession charge, which was reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor. In August, Nate Dogg was sentenced in California to three years probation after pleading no contest to a misdemeanor charge of possessing an unmarked firearm.


P. Diddy debuts at No. 1
P. Diddy is back on top. His latest album, We Invented the Remix, sold 256,000 copies last week and will debut at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 album chart, according to figures released by Soundscan. The album features 15 tracks, including "Bad Boy For Life" featuring Busta Rhymes and M.O.P., two versions of "I Need A Girl," and "Unfoolish," which adds a Notorious B.I.G. verse to the "One More Chance" beat Ashanti already used for the original cut, "Foolish." Cam'ron's first offering as a part of the Roc-A-Fella family, Come Home With Me, moved 226,000 units and will enter the chart at No. 2.


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