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50 Cent breaks Snoop Dogg's record
It seems safe to say that 50 Cent will "get rich" rather than "die trying." Already well-off thanks to his record deal, 50 Cent sold 872,000 copies of Get Rich or Die Tryin' last week according to SoundScan figures released Wednesday, easily breaking Snoop Dogg's record for a debut album's first-week sales. Not even bootleggers and an early release date that resulted in a short sales week could keep 50 from flying off the shelves at a record pace. Snoop's debut, Doggystyle, moved more than 802,000 units during its first week in 1993. Get Rich or Die Tryin' sold more copies last week than the rest of Billboard's top 10 combined. On the other end of the spectrum, LL Cool J's 10 surged 75 spots to No. 9 after selling 66,000 copies. Eminem's 2000 album, The Marshall Mathers LP, still holds hip-hop's overall record for first-week sales, selling 1.76 million copies.

Phife says A Tribe Called Quest is back
As the New York media buzzes about the possible unlikely pairing of Q-Tip and actress Nicole Kidman, Phife has confirmed a much different rumor concerning A Tribe Called Quest: a reunion. "Yeah it's something that were talking about right now and it's pretty much in the baby step stages," Phife told in an exclusive interview. "We haven't started working on it yet but we're talking about different things that should go down and what shouldn't go down and producers and things of that nature." And what about all that Ventilation that Phife did on his solo debut, particularly the barbs tossed Q-Tip's way? "Any internal problems could always be squashed on the strength that we were always friends anyways," Phife said, adding that in addition to him, Tip and Ali Shaheed Muhammad, long-lost member Jarobi will return. In the meantime, the aformentioned odd couple were seen making out over dinner last month at Nobu, according to the New York Post and several New York radio stations. Q-Tip and the former Mrs. Tom Cruise also have been spotted at the premiere of "Gangs of New York" (though not together), sat together at the premiere of Kidman's "The Hours," and were part of the same group at the Golden Globes award ceremony.

Mystikal nears settlement
Mystikal and the woman who accused him of raping her in July are nearing a settlement, according to the MC's lawyer. Although Mystikal was arrested for aggravated rape and extortion at the time of the incident, formal charges have never been filed in an effort to get the two sides to come to an agreement that's satisfactory to both parties. "We're not making any admission of guilt," attorney J. David Bourland told MTV. "Sometimes you just have to swallow a bitter pill in order to move on with your life and your career." Mystikal and two other men were accused of raping a 40-year-old hairstylist at his home after demanding sex in exchange for an agreement not to turn the woman over to police for using checks from his bank account without permission. Much of the encounter was recorded on a videotape confiscated by police. Further complicating matters, the woman signed an affidavit saying that she consented to the sex, only to say later that she was tricked into signing it. Mystikal is nominated for two Grammys: Best Male Rap Solo Performance for the hit single "Bouncin' Back" and Best Rap Album for Tarantula.

Jay-Z thinking retirement
He's said it before, but this time Jay-Z might actually go through with it. In an interview with NME, Jay said he intends to record one final album and then leave the studio for good. "My plan is to make the next album, The Black Album, my last. There comes a time when you've got to go and challenge yourself with other areas, you know what I'm saying? Take myself out of my comfort zone. Take the safety blanket off." Also in the works is a book about his life that will be released in conjucntion with the new album. Down the road Jay hopes to make a movie out of it much like Eminem did with the semi-autobiographical and highly successful "8 Mile." "A feature length film would be cool," Jay said. "It's a natural evolution for artists." As for what to expect on The Black Album, Jay-Z said a collaboration with Prince might happen, but otherwise there wouldn't be too many guests, saying it would be "90 percent me."

Benzino still doesn't sell
The good news for Benzino is that after taking on Eminem in the hopes that his album sales would soar, getting the usual over-promotion in The Source, and coming clean about his ownership of that magazine, he moved more units in his first week than ever before. The bad news is that total was just more than 14,000 -- the first time an album he was involved with sold more than 10,000 copies in its first week. Worse yet, both of Eminem's 2002 albums outsold Redemption -- and both have been on the charts for months. The "8 Mile" soundtrack, released in October, sold more than 86,000 copies to check in at No. 5 on the Billboard 200 albums chart, and The Eminem Show, released in May, sold 49,000. It seems that no matter what form Benzino takes, whether it's Almighty RSO, Made Men or Hangmen 3, and no matter what label he's on, the public cannot be fooled.

Trick Daddy shut down in Miami
A Trick Daddy concert that was part of Miami's Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration was shut down early Monday after the MC had issues with the sound system and police. Trick was the featured performer during a parade sponsored by radio station 99 Jamz, but he became upset about the sound levels early and started asking for engineers to pump up the volume. When he found out that the police would not allow the sound to be turned up, he went N.W.A on them, shouting "f--- the police" before continuing the set. Before he could finish his next song, "Thug Holiday," police shut down the show. Even with the shortened concert, Trick managed to get in four cuts, including "Shut Up" with special guest and fellow Miami native Trina.

Lost Boyz' Mr. Cheeks is Back Again
Mr. Cheeks is preparing the release of his second solo album, Back Again, the follow-up to last year's John P. Kelly. With his new single, Cheeks hopes to duplicate the success of his No. 1 single, "Lights, Camera, Action!" even though he's not duplicating the style. In contrast to the uptempo dance vibe of his biggest hit, "Crush on You" slows it down and adds the R&B croonings of Mario Winans. Pete Rock and CL Smooth are among the artists enlisted for guest spots on the album, which also features production by P. Diddy and Bink. Mr. Cheeks is looking to add to a hardware collection that already includes a pair of gold plaques from the Lost Boyz' 1996 debut, Legal Drug Money, and their 1997 sophomore effort, Love, Peace and Nappiness. Back Again is slated to drop this spring.

Halftime is all about hip-hop
Hip-hop was all over the television screen during the NFL's conference championship games on Sunday. Ja Rule kicked things off with Ashanti on Fox during halftime of the NFC championship game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Philadelphia Eagles, but like many entertainers before them -- including Santa Claus and Destiny's Child -- they couldn't escape the notorious boos from the Philadelphia crowd. L.L. Cool J received a much warmer reception across the country at the AFC championship game in Oakland. Decked out in a Raiders jersey and cap, L.L. and Amerie treated fans and CBS viewers to a live version of their latest single, "Paradise," during halftime of Oakland's game against the Tennessee Titans. L.L. also got plenty of face time during commercial breaks as well, with Dr. Pepper using the title-game broadcasts as launching pads for a new spot teaming him with Run DMC. The ad ended with a memorial to Jam Master Jay, but it still seemed awkward hearing his name replaced by the product in the classic sample, "Run DMC and Jam Master Jay." As far as the games go, the Buccaneers and Raiders won and are headed to the Super Bowl in San Diego next Sunday.

Method Man prepares Tical 0
It looks like Method Man's highly anicipated third solo album might finally see the light of day this spring. Tical 0: The Prequel tentatively is slated for a March release, and the album currently has his undivided attention. Meth is holed up in P. Diddy's Manhattan studio with Bad Boy vice president Harve Pierre trying to make an album that is enjoyable as well as accessible. "The majority of our audience can't afford Versace and all the name brands and these big expensive cars," Meth told Rolling Stone. "A lot of them just like to party. That's the common denominator among every class. We all just like to party so that's what the album is based on." Joining in the festivities will be Redman, Ghostface Killah, Raekwon, RZA and despite the 'prequel' label, Ludacris. "I ain't trying to go back to my youth or nothing like that," Meth told MTV. "I'm basically trying to have fun again. Let's make it fun while we do it."

Will Smith dreaming of new deal?
Will Smith is all about big things these days, but his latest deal might redefine living large. Now that his recording contract with Columbia has not been renewed, Smith is in talks to team up with Dreamworks SKG on several levels. Billboard is reporting that the deal being discussed not only involves his music and films, but also includes options for television, animation and even video games. After recording as the Fresh Prince with DJ Jazzy Jeff on Jive for his whole career, Smith moved to Columbia in 1996 and used his birth name on the multi-platinum hit album, Big Willie Style. But his success in the music biz hasn't returned to those heights since, and his latest studio album, Born To Reign, moving just 225,000 units. Smith's final album on Columbia was a greatest hits collection released in November.

Fabolous arrested twice in 2 days
Fabolous was arrested for the second time in two days Thursday night after police pulled over a car he was riding in and discovered two guns. The Chevrolet Suburban was stopped in Brooklyn after running a red light, but officers allegedly saw a gun handle sticking out of the back seat when they approached the vehicle and then found a second gun between the seats during a search. Fabolous, the driver and another passenger were charged with two counts of criminal possession of a weapon. The incident happened just one day after Fabolous was arrested in Manhattan for driving with a suspended license. He was charged Wednesday with aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle. Fabolous' next album, Street Dreams is scheduled to hit stores March 25.

Outkast wins American Music Award
Outkast won its first American Music Award on Monday night in Los Angeles, picking up a trophy for favorite hip-hop/R&B duo or group at the 30th annual event. Big Boi took the stage with Killer Mike and thanked AMA producer Dick Clark and God before explaining Andre's absence. "Dre's back at the house putting the finishing touches on our new album, which comes out in 90 days," Big Boi said. Outkast beat out B2K and Nappy Roots for the award. Eminem won favorite hip-hop/R&B album for The Eminem Show but was not on hand to accept the honor. Instead, "8 Mile" co-star Mekhi Phifer accepted the award on Em's behalf while speaking on a cell phone with him. Later, Eminem also won for favorite pop/rock album, favorite male hip-hop/R&B artist and favorite male pop/rock artist. Murder Inc.'s Ashanti, who had the most nominations with five, took home the favorite new artist award in both the hip-hop/R&B and pop/rock categories. Nelly won the fans' choice award, and Ja Rule and Missy Elliott were among the performers.

Eve plans UPN sitcom, tour
Eve has signed on to star as a New York fashion designer in a new UPN sitcom. The Ruff Ryders MC, whose acting resumé was built with supporting roles on the big screen in "Barbershop" and "XXX" and a guest appearance on NBC's "Third Watch," will also be a producer on the show. But Eve still has plenty of time for her music. She will spend most of February on the road with Ja Rule. The 22-city tour begins and ends in Massachusetts, from Lowell on Jan. 29 to South Hadley on March 2. In addition to the tour, Eve also is part of Power 105 Powerhouse concert Jan. 16 in East Rutherford, N.J., that includes Busta Rhymes, Fat Joe and Nas and is scheduled to perform alongside Ludacris, Mos Def and others at an AIDS awareness concert in South Africa on Feb. 2.

The complete tour schedule: 1/29 - Lowell, MA @ Paul E. Tsongas Arena; 1/30 - Philadelphia, PA @ Electric Factory; 2/4 - Gainesville, FL @ Stephen C. O'Connell Center; 2/5 - Tampa, FL @ USF Sun Dome; 2/6 - Lake Buena Vista, FL @ House of Blues; 2/7 - Atlanta, GA @ Visions; 2/10 - Fort Wayne, IN @ Allen County Memorial Coliseum; 2/11 - East Lansing, MI @ Breslin Events Center; 2/12 - De Kalb, IL @ Convocation Center; 2/13 - Cedar Falls, IA @ UNI Dome; 2/15 - Carbondale, IL @ Southern Illinois University; 2/16 - Champaign, IL @ Assembly Hall; 2/17 - Columbia, MO @ Hearnes Center; 2/19 - Minneapolis, MN @ Target Center; 2/20 - Milwaukee, WI @ Eagles Ballroom; 2/21 - St. Louis, MO @ The Pageant; 2/25 - Toronto, ON @ Phoenix; 2/26 - Montreal, QC @ Millennium; 2/27 - Pittsburgh, PA @ Club Laga; 2/28 - Washington, DC @ Dream; 3/1 - Providence, RI @ Lupo's Heartbreak Hotel; 3/2 - South Hadley, MA @ Mount Holyoke College.

Nas leads 'The Best of 2002'
Even though Stillmatic was released on Dec. 18, 2001, its impact was felt throughout 2002. The album, and "Ether" in particular, shook Jay-Z so much that he still hasn't recovered, paving the way for Nas to reclaim the throne that was once his. Two additional solid releases -- The Lost Tapes, a collection of unreleased tracks written between 1998-2001, and God's Son, this December's offering that shows early signs of securing a repeat in 2003 -- only cemented Nas' lock on the hip-hop world throughout the year. His dominance is felt in The 411 Online's "Best of 2002" as well. See all of our picks...

Nelly, Eminem share Grammy nomination lead
Nelly and Eminem were among the eight artists that led the Grammy nominations announced Tuesday, with five each. Both were nominated in the Album of the Year (Nelly for Nellyville and Eminem for 2002's top seller, The Eminem Show) and Record of the Year categories (Nelly for his collaboration with Kelly Rowland, "Dilemma," and Eminem for "Without Me"), as well as in several hip-hop categories. Nelly has been nominated twice before, but has come away with nothing. "Hopefully, the third time is a charm," Nelly told the Associated Press. "If I won, it will be a lot better." Common's duet with his leading lady, Erykah Badu, "Love of My Life," earned him honors in the R&B Song and Urban/Alternative Performance categories. Cee-Lo's "Gettin' Grown" was also nominated in the latter. Redman even backed into the action, getting a Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals nod for his appearance with Christina Aguilera on "Dirrty." The video portion of the nominations also were loaded with hip-hop, as Eminem's "Without Me," Knoc-Turn'Al's "Knoc" featuring Dr. Dre and Missy Elliott and Nas' "One Mic" filled out a good portion of the Short Form Music Video category, while Nappy Roots' "The World According to Nappy" was among the Long Form Music Video nominees. See all of the hip-hop nominees...

More news on Slick Rick, Jam Master Jay and L.L. Cool J...

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