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2006 news stories

The Best of 2005
Although Common is pictured, there was no consensus pick for album of the year. Four writers responded, four albums were picked. But that's the beauty of The 411 Online's "Best of 2005." Our writers have different tastes, just like our readers. Sometimes we all agree on the best of the year, but often we don't. Last year, Kanye West ruled. This year, many thought a repeat was guaranteed, but Late Registration was just one of the four choices for best album. His Chicago counterpart, Common, earned a selection for Be, T.I. kept the south on the map with Urban Legend and Blackalicious earned a vote for The Craft. The picks for best artist, lyric, video and others were just as varied, making for a lot of honorees. Click here for The 411 Online's picks for "The Best of 2005"

The Best of 2004
Is there any doubt that Kanye West would dominate hip-hop's postseason in 2004? We're not talking about the 10 Grammy nominations. It's time for The 411 Online's 10th anniversary edition of the "Best of," and no one did it better in 2004 than Kanye West. From production to lyrics to high concepts, his debut, The College Dropout, was everything that hip-hop fans eagerly anticipated coming into the year, and for that Kanye finishes off 2004 as the big winner. Click here for The 411 Online's picks for "The Best of 2004"

ODB dies in studio at 35
The Wu-Tang Clan's ODB died in the studio of an apparent heart attack while working on his latest solo album Nov. 13, just two days short of his 36th birthday. According to Roc-a-Fella spokesperson Gabe Tesoriero, ODB, whose real name was Russell Jones, had complained of chest pains shortly before collapsing Saturday and was dead by the time paramedics arrived. The New York City medical examiner's office expects it to take at least several days to get autopsy results back.
ODB on The 411 | Tribute

10 years and counting
In July 1994, The 411 debuted as one page in a regional monthly music magazine. Less than a year later, The 411 broke out on its own as a four-page, newsletter-style magazine that was distributed free throughout the Midwest. It didn't take long to catch national recognition, with a write-up in Rap Pages and a green light to cover the 1995 Source Awards. But it wasn't until three years later when The 411 Online was born that things really took off. Who knew that it would become one of the first and best sources for daily hip-hop news? Or that it would become the No. 1-ranked hip-hop magazine on Yahoo? As recently as July 2003, The 411 still held that title, but things change. Now, hip-hop has become pop, MTV and a thousand upstart websites cover it, and The 411 is just a shell of its former self, with old news and even older reviews. But as its tenth anniversary passes, The 411 is still here, if only as a time capsule of an unprecedented era in hip-hop. Every news item, album critique and interview written in that period remains, and there's still more to come. Someday we'll get it all published.

213 soon to be reality
Snoop Dogg, Warren G and Nate Dogg have been representing 213 since day one. Now, at long last, the Long Beach trio's first commercial album is ready for release in November. "We've been in the laboratory doing real good music, so we should have a single for y'all maybe in about three weeks, maybe a month," Snoop told MTV. "It's hot. The West Coast is back, believe it!" The 213 album's music is being put together by many of the same producers that worked on Snoop's Paid Tha Cost To Be Da Boss, including the Neptunes and Jelly Roll. "I'm just trying to put together the best record to represent 213, since we never came with a record before, nobody never really heard us as a group," Snoop continued. "We're really getting each others' back on every record. It makes the job that much easier and more like team ball. I play team ball better anyway."

Suge Knight gets 10 months in prison
A parole board sent Suge Knight back to prison for 10 months Thursday in connection with an assault on a Hollywood parking lot attendant. However, the alleged victim told the Associated Press that Knight never hit him. "I never said I was hit by him," said Maehdi Lazrak. "I don't know how police got that idea." The owner of the California Parking Services valet company, Abbey Shilleh, added that Knight "definitely was not involved with the incident." Police claim a security videotape shows the punch was thrown by Knight, who has been in jail since June 27. Meanwhile, Knight might be the target of a series of gang shootings, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times. Police apparently have advised Knight to be cautious after four of his close associates have been killed since 1997, including his best friend and the creator of the Death Row electric chair logo. "Word on the street is there's a hit out on Suge Knight," Det. Michael Caouette of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department told the Times.

Heavy D drops 135 pounds
Heavy D might not be as heavy as he used to be, but don't expect a name change anytime soon. "There's a lot of checks involved with 'Heavy D,' so that name stays," the MC-turned-actor told the Television Critics Association last week. Hev said he lost 135 pounds during the past year. He made the decision to shed some weight because he was getting passed over for television and movie roles. "I went on a couple auditions and one director was kind enough to say, 'Look, you would've had this part but you're not fitting, you're stifling yourself,'" Hev said. "He was right. I kind of always knew it in the back of my mind, and I just woke up on a Tuesday and I just kept going." Heavy D plays a mechanic in "The Tracy Morgan Show," a sitcom that didn't make NBC's fall schedule but still might show up during the season. Hev also wrote the show's title theme.

Chicago PD apologizes to Cube
The Chicago Police Department issued a written apology to Ice Cube after sending out an alert that a suspect in a series of sexual assaults resembled the MC. As if that wasn't enough, Cube actually was in town working on the sequel to "Barbershop" and a local television station picked up on the alert and used video of Cube while reporting on it. The Chicago Police Department issued the alert on Monday, but retracted it on Tuesday with a statement saying that they "inadvertently mentioned that the offender bore a resemblance to Ice Cube, a well-known musician and actor." Police spokesman Dave Bayless told the Chicago Sun-Times that "the only thing that matters is that we acknowledged the mistake was made and we fixed it immediately. We considered it an honest mistake and we meant no ill will whatsoever against Ice Cube." Police and television station WBBM Channel 2 issued apologies on Tuesday, according to Cube's publicist, Matt Labov, who told the Sun-Times the incident was "an unfortunate and hurtful situation for Ice Cube."

P. Diddy wants to buy Knicks
P. Diddy wants into the New York Knicks lineup -- as an owner. Diddy announced on Howard Stern's radio show that he wants to join the ownership group of the NBA team, but so far he's had no luck getting his foot in the door. "I think I could do a good job," Diddy told Stern. "I'm publicly putting it out there, because they're not taking my calls. I think they need some new blood up there. I'm not saying get rid of the owners, I'm saying put me down. Put me in the game... because it's not going down right now." After earning postseason berths for 14 consecutive years -- and making the NBA Finals in 1994 and 1999 -- the Knicks have failed to make the playoffs for the past two seasons. "We're making rush decisions," Diddy said. "I think we need a team that also reflects the spirit of the city. We need an aggressive, fast team that knows how to run."

'Bad Boys II' on top everywhere
Eight years between sequels didn't hurt Will Smith and Martin Lawrence's box office drawing power. "Bad Boys II" knocked "Pirates of the Caribbean" out of the top spot with $46.5 million in its first weekend. The sequel to the 1995 hit averaged $14,602 at 3,186 locations, nearly 200 theaters fewer than "Pirates." Both are Jerry Bruckheimer films. The soundtrack to "Bad Boys II" has been equally successful, debuting at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart after selling 324,000 copies. The soundtrack is Bad Boy's first release since P. Diddy signed a new distribution deal with Universal Records. "Having the first album released under the Bad Boy-Universal partnership debut at No. 1 is a true blessing," Diddy said. "Hopefully this is a sign of things to come in the future. I am very, very happy." Two singles, Nelly's "Shake Ya Tailfeather" featuring P. Diddy and Murphy Lee and Jay-Z's "La La La" are powering the set, and are about to be joined on the charts by a third release,"Show Me Your Soul," a collaboration of Lenny Kravitz, Pharrell Williams, P. Diddy and Loon.

Rakim leaves Aftermath
Hate to say it, but we told you so. Back on Oct. 20, 2000, The 411 Online first reported the rumor that Rakim might be teaming up with Dr. Dre and Aftermath Records. But that report came with a warning that the dynamic duo's work together might never see the light of day, going the route of Dre and Ice Cube's Helter Skelter, the N.W.A reunion album and planned Aftermath projects by Eve, Hittman, Dawn Robinson and King Tee. Now -- almost three years later -- the inevitable has happened. Just three weeks after hyping up Oh My God! at the BET Awards, Rakim announced through his manager, Zach Katz, that the partnership with Dre is over. "He's already shopping a new deal," Katz said in a statement on Aftermath Records' web site. "They mutually decided to go their separate ways. There are reasons, but I really can't get into them, just basically creative differences." Rakim hopes to still get Oh My God! in stores in some form by the end of 2003.

Chuck D, Lyte, Busta team up for ESPYs
Public Enemy's Chuck D and Flavor Flav joined Busta Rhymes, MC Lyte, Phife from A Tribe Called Quest and Aerosmith's Steven Tyler and Joe Perry for "Let's Get Loud," a song that ESPN will use as the theme for Wednesday's ESPY Awards. "The Spitballers," as they are calling themselves, also filmed a video for the introduction of the show at Hollywood's Kodak Theatre. "The song basically shows how much musicians love sports and vice versa," Chuck D told Rolling Stone. "And that we can translate that love directly into a song. The goal here is that this song has afterlives as a strong song unto itself and as an arena and stadium theme for years to come." Chuck, who previously wrote a theme for ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball, will finish up the track live at the show before handing off to host Jamie Foxx.

Beanie Sigel arrested, off tour
Beanie Sigel was ordered held without bond Monday at a brief hearing in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia. Sigel, who is facing a number of charges concurrently, will remain in custody until his trial for a federal weapons charge, which means he will no longer be able to perform on the Roc the Mic tour. Sigel, whose real name is Dwight Grant, was arrested Monday and charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm after a state court hearing on an assault charge in Philadelphia. A trial date has been set for Aug. 7. The charge is from an April 20 arrest in Philadelphia and is not related to his arrest last week for allegedly shooting a man outside a West Philadelphia bar. Sigel is facing attempted murder charges in that case. Jay-Z took the stand during Monday's hearing and asked that Sigel be allowed to continue touring with him, Snoop Dogg, 50 Cent, Fabolous and others, but his plea was denied. The next stop on the Roc the Mic tour is scheduled for Moline, Ill., on Tuesday night.

L.L. Cool J re-signs with Def Jam
L.L. Cool J, one of hip-hop's most enduring stars and biggest crossover successes, secured his future with Def Jam Records on Monday, signing an exclusive recording agreement that will keep him with the company he helped put on the map almost two decades ago. "I have been with Def Jam from the very beginning and am proud to be a part of their ongoing growth and success," L.L. said. "Together, we paved the way for an entire hip-hop community and I am blessed to continue to call Def Jam my home." L.L. was the first artist Russell Simmons released on the Def Jam record label and has dropped 10 albums in all, culminating with last year's chart-topper, Ten. "When L.L. Cool J put out his first single on the independent record label Def Jam, the whole hip-hop movement was viewed as a passing trend that many said would sell a few records, but would never succeed in the long run. Two decades later we are still proving them wrong," said Simmons. "L.L. Cool J is a shining example of the longevity and power of hip-hop. In fact, he is the embodiment of hip-hop. He is one of the architects of the Def Jam culture. I am privileged to work with a man who is both a pioneer and a legend." L.L. also has broken ground for hip-hop artists in the television and film industries, starring in an award-winning sitcom and several high-profile movies. His next project -- "S.W.A.T." -- is due in theatres in August.

Lawyer: Video will clear Knight
Suge Knight's attorney says a security videotape shows that his client did not punch a parking attendant outside a Hollywood nightclub last month. Rose Kogeman said the tape contradicts reports by police and state parole officials that Knight punched the attendant in the face from behind. Kogeman also said the alleged victim says Knight didn't assault him. "He could see Mr. Knight in front of him when the guy punched him from the back. The video does show a guy walking up behind the valet," Kogeman told the Los Angeles Times. Department of Corrections spokeswoman Margot Bach told the Associated Press that the dispute will be settled at a hearing. "Mr. Knight has the right to a Board of Prison Terms revocation hearing, where both sides will be heard," she said.

Beanie Sigel released from jail
Beanie Sigel was released from jail Saturday after posting bail. Sigel was arrested and charged with attempted murder Thursday in connection with a shooting that injured a man outside a bar Tuesday. Sigel, whose real name is Dwight Grant, surrendered to police late Thursday after returning to Philadelphia from a concert where he performed with Jay-Z in Camden, N.J. Sigel is accused of shooting 26-year-old Terrence Speller, allegedly over an argument between Speller and two women. Speller was hospitalized but police say he is expected to recover. Sigel already has a couple of legal issues on his plate. He has a preliminary hearing to face assault charges later this month and is faces an arraignment in two weeks for firearms charges.

Say hello to Snoop Doggy Duck
Snoop Dogg is the latest in a long line of celebrities and athletes to be immortalized as a duck. A rubber duck in fact. A common giveaway the past few years at sporting events in an effort to become the next bobblehead craze, Celebriducks haven't quite packed them into the stadiums like their more storied collectible counterparts, but they've caught on enough to build an all-star lineup of major league baseball, NBA, NFL, NHL players as well as musicians. Not all Celebriducks are given away at ballgames, though, and they can be purchased at Barry Bonds, Shaquille O'Neal, Kobe Bryant, Kiss, the Osbournes and numerous team mascots are among the ducks prominently displayed at the Celebriduck site. You can even have one made in your own likeness for $7,000. But be warned: Before you order your Snoop Duck for $11.99 you'll be subjected to phrases like "Chillin' with his homeducks, this gangsta Celebriduck can quack rap with the best of them!"

Beanie Sigel arrested in Philly
Beanie Sigel was arrested Thursday and charged with attempted murder in connection with a shooting outside a West Philadelphia bar earlier this week that critically injured a man. According to police, Sigel, whose real name is Dwight Grant, is accused of shooting 26-year-old Terrence Speller in the foot and stomach around 1 a.m. Tuesday. Speller originally was in critical condition at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, but has been upgraded to fair. Police issued an arrest warrant on Tuesday after Speller told police he was involved in an argument with two women outside the Pony Tail Bar on South 52d Street that led to the shooting. Speller said he was leaving the bar when a Cadillac pulled over, Sigel got out, asked the two women 'Which one?' and fired two shots at him. Sigel surrendered to police late Thursday night after a concert at the Tweeter Center in Camden, N.J.

P. Diddy sued by former Bad Boy president
P. Diddy is being sued by a former business partner who claims that Puffy threatened him with a baseball bat in 1996 and forced him to sign over a 25 percent stake in Bad Boy Entertainment. Kirk Burrowes says he was wrongly fired as president of the company and alleges the threat cheated him out of $25 million. "The allegations are pure fantasy," said Diddy, whose real name is Sean Combs, in a statement. "Kirk Burrowes hasn't been employed for seven years, and now he makes up a fictional story for financial gain." John Bostany, Burrowes' lawyer, says his client only wants what's owed to him. "Kirk just wants Sean to realize the value he had in making Sean what he is today and to do the right thing," Bostany told the New York Daily News. Bad Boy Entertainment and Kenneth Meiselas, a lawyer for the conglomerate, are also named as defendants in the lawsuit.

Knight faces up to year in prison
After his arrest for allegedly assaulting a parking lot attendant outside a Hollywood nightclub, Suge Knight faces up to a year in prison if state officials revoke his parole. Police said Knight, who was upset that his parking spot at the White Lotus Club left him blocked in by other cars, allegedly punched the attendant in the face from behind. "That's totally ridiculous," attorney Robin Yanes, who represents Knight, told the Los Angeles Times. "I don't believe that at all. That's so un-Suge-like to hit somebody. Have you ever seen the size of Suge? If he hit one of those little valets, the guy would be broken." The California Board of Prison Terms will decide whether the June 21 incident violated his parole conditions and then might revoke Knight's parole. That could lead to a year in prison for Knight, who spent 61 days in prison earlier this year on a probation violation. Knight was placed on probation in 1992 after being convicted of assault and weapons violations. He was jailed for five years starting in 1996 for violating probation after he, 2Pac and several others were caught assaulting a man on tape in the lobby of a Las Vegas hotel. 2Pac was shot later that night.

Awards break BET records
The 2003 BET Awards shattered the network’s all-time records for viewership, scoring a 4.3 rating. The mark translates into 3.2 million households and 5.5 million viewers -- both the best numbers in BET's 23-year history. This year's impressive performance represents a 25 percent jump in viewership for the BET Awards show compared to 2002.If you were one of the few who missed it the first time, the 2003 BET Awards will be rebroadcast Tuesday, July 8, and Thursday, July 10, at 8 p.m. ET. While you wait, check out The 411 Online's photo gallery from press day, rehearsals, the red carpet and the media center.

Mystikal pleads guilty to lesser charge
Mystikal pleaded guilty Thursday to extortion and sexual battery of the infirmed in connection with charges that he forced his hairstylist to perform sex acts on him and two bodyguards. Mystikal, whose real name is Michael Tyler, was facing a sentence of life in prison if he had been convicted of aggravated rape. Instead, Mystikal was sentenced to five years probation for extortion and has a Sept. 25 sentencing date for the sexual battery charge. Mystikal and two other men were accused of raping a 40-year-old hairstylist 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. "I'm glad that it's getting behind me," Mystikal said after his guilty plea.

Lil' Kim replaces stolen jewelry
Lil' Kim had $250,000 of jewelry stolen at New York's JFK International Airport last Friday, but it didn't take her long to replace it. Kim, who lost the jewelry after a mix-up at the check-in counter gave her the wrong carry-on bag for her flight to Los Angeles for the BET Awards, dished out $5 million to buy the replacement jewelry that Harry Winston loaned her for the show after finding out about her loss. The Port Authority is investigating the alleged theft. Lil' Kim had her 8:45 a.m. flight delayed after realizing she had carried on the wrong bag. The correct Louis Vuitton bag was found in the baggage hold, but half of the estimated $500,000 worth of jewelry was missing, including her signature "Queen Bee" necklace.

No more 'Girls Gone Wild' for Snoop
You won't be seeing Snoop Dogg in any more "Girls Gone Wild" videos. Snoop, who hosted last year's "Girls Gone Wild -- Doggy Style," said he's done with the videos because the women they feature lack color. "If you notice, there hasn't been no girls of ethnicity at all on none of those tapes," Snoop Dogg told the Associated Press. "No black girls, no Spanish girls -- all white girls, and that sh-- ain't cool." Snoop might not be done with the concept, though, saying that a lot of girls from different races are looking for their shot to show off in front of the camera. "They've been complaining to me like crazy," he said. "They think I like the white girls because I'm on there with them, and I don't. I just did that for money."

50 Cent wins two BET Awards
50 Cent opened the 2003 BET Awards with a performance and ended it as the big winner. 50 took home honors for Best New Artist and Best Male Hip-Hop Artist, tying him with B2K, who won Best Music Group and the Viewers' Choice Award, for the most awards overall. The third annual event, held Tuesday at the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles, was full of surprises, the biggest being a Michael Jackson appearance and the smallest in the form of actor Tony Cox, who closed the show with a punctuation mark (and a punchout of Tiny Lister). Jackson unexpectedly arrived on stage during Lifetime Achievement Award honoree James Brown's performance and danced for a bit before presenting the Godfather of Soul with the award. Cox, meanwhile, 'rescued' host Mo'Nique with a low blow to Lister, who had been humorously policing the plugs of the presenters all night. Besides 50's set featuring Best Female Hip-Hop Artist winner Missy Elliott and Nate Dogg and the pairing of legends, there were a number of other notable performances, including Snoop Dogg and Pharrell (whose "Beautiful" won Best Collaboration), Beyonce and Jay-Z, Lil' Kim, Ashanti, R. Kelly and last but far from least, DMC and an all-star lineup of DJs -- Grandmaster Flash, DJ Jazzy Jeff, Kid Capri, and DJ Premier -- who paid tribute to the late Jam Master Jay. The 411 Online was in the house for everything, and we'll be bringing you hundreds of photos and interviews with Ludacris, Snoop, Baby, Pharrell, Tyrese, Mya, all of the DJs and more throughout the week. Click here for the complete list of winners...

The time is now for BET Awards
The 411 Online arrived in Los Angeles on Monday in preparation for Tuesday's 2003 BET Awards, and there was plenty to see. Gangstarr, Da Brat, Bonecrusher, Loon, Joe Budden, LisaRaye, TQ, Boo & Gotti, Musiq and Tyrese were among those who stopped by to greet the media, and we talked to every one of them. As an added bonus, we got a sneak peek at Ashanti's rehearsal in the Kodak Theatre (here's a hint: think M.J.). An underlying theme of Monday's press day was support for two fallen R&B legends -- one struck by illness and one troubled by legal problems. Many of the artists who spoke offered their best wishes to Luther Vandross, while others defended their continued use of R. Kelly as a producer. The 411's coverage continues live from the red carpet Tuesday. As always, look for hundreds of photos and plenty of interviews later in the week, and stop by The 411 Online for your first look at all the winners if you miss the live broadcast (BET, 9 p.m. ET).

P. Diddy ready for relaunch
P. Diddy is still hard at work proving that he can't be stopped, and up next for the mega-mogul is reintroducing his label to the world. For his first project since aligning Bad Boy with Universal Records, P. Diddy appropriately picked the soundtrack to one of the summer's biggest blockbusters, "Bad Boys II" -- and he brought along plenty of heavyweight help. In addition to the double single pairing Jay-Z's "La La La (Excuse Me Again)" and P. Diddy's own collaboration with Nelly and Murphy Lee, "Shake Ya Tail Feather," the album will feature another track that's already gotten plenty of spins on radio and mix tapes, "Realest N-----" featuring 50 Cent and Notorious B.I.G. "I feel extremely blessed to be relaunching Bad Boy with not just another typical soundtrack, but the biggest album of the summer, guaranteed to be the hottest summer release," said P. Diddy. "I pulled out all the stops and it couldn't have happened any other way -- 'Bad Boys II' on Bad Boy!" Snoop Dogg, Foxy Brown, Fat Joe, Freeway, Mary J. Blige, Pharrell Williams, Beyonce, Lenny Kravitz and Bad Boy's own Mario Winans, G. Dep and Loon also contribute to the soundtrack, which drops July 15, three days before the movie hits theaters.

Audio: P. Diddy, Nelly and Murphy Lee -- "Shake Your Tailfeather" Windows | Real

Video: Jay Z - "La La La" Windows | Real

Rated R represents Tampa
Rated R, one of the most requested MCs in the south for the past year, will showcase his skills to the nation when his debut album, Da Ghetto Psychic, on Tuesday. Rated R's first single, "In Here Ta Nite," dominated the club scene and built a strong following in the southeast region. According to Broadcast Data System, R's lead single from Da Ghetto Psychic was the most requested song in New Orleans, Miami, Montgomery, Ala., and several other cities for the past year. The name Rated R not only accurately reflects his rough vocals and raw lyrics, it also is a tribute to his hometown: 'Representin' All Tampa Every Day.' "When I say my style is ghetto, I'm talking and writing about the whole ghetto, from the hustler to the lady who sells candy out the house," says Rated R. "I try to give you everything and put it to a jamming beat. Da Ghetto Psychic is an album that any grown-up can listen to and have a good time. You can party as wild as you want with this one."

Ludacris gets behind camera
Already a hit in front of the camera with a supporting role in the No. 1 movie in the country, "2 Fast 2 Furious," Ludacris went behind the scenes recently as a Guest Celebrity Photographer. Joining the ranks of DMX, Xzibit, Nelly and Ja Rule as a guest shooter, Ludacris spent a day in Playboy's Chicago studio photographing model Krystal Tamburino. He also participated in a "Dirty Dozen" interview with, fielding questions about strip clubs, one-night stands and his love of older women. Playboy gave The 411 Online a sneak peek behind the scenes, but you'll have to go to their site to get the full pictorial. Meanwhile, "2 Fast 2 Furious" heads into its second week after driving home more than $52 million in its opening weekend, easily outpacing the competition (and its predecessor, "The Fast and the Furious," by $12 million) and delivering to John Singleton the biggest opening in history for a black director.

Nelly gets down and 'Air Derrty'
Forget Air Force Ones, Nelly's got his own set of Nikes to sell. Beginning Friday, Nelly's 'Air Derrty' limited edition shoes will be available at Niketown in New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago and at Squad 1 in Nelly's hometown of St. Louis. Only 1,000 pairs will be released, and all of the proceeds from the sales of the shoes will benefit Nelly's non-profit foundation, 4Sho4Kids. The organization is dedicated to improving the quality of life for children born with developmental disabilities, specifically those suffering from Down Syndrome and born with drug addictions. 4Sho4Kids provides educational classes and health care resources in the St. Louis metropolitan area.

Black Sheep, Jungle Brothers team up for tour
Black Sheep have joined fellow Native Tongue Family crew the Jungle Brothers on the road this summer in support of both group's new albums. "All That We Do: The Tour" kicked off in the northeast at the end of May and is currently working its way down the west coast, with upcoming shows in Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego. The tour will trek across the south and into Florida before finishing up back east in Baltimore on June 26 and Philadelphia in June 27. The Jungle Brothers released their latest album, All That We Do, earlier this year, while Black Sheep are preparing for an Aug. 5 drop date for their reunion album -- the first from Dres and Mr. Lawnge since 1994's Non-Fiction, the follow-up to the 1991 classic, A Wolf In Sheep's Clothing.

Here are the remaining tour dates: 6/12 Portland, OR @ Berbatis Pan; 6/13 San Francisco, CA @ Slims; 6/14 Los Angeles, CA @ Roxy; 6/15 San Diego, CA @ Casbah; 6/16 Phoenix, AZ @ Bash On Ash; 6/19 Austin, TX @ Emo's; 6/21 New Orleans, LA - House of Blues @ Parish Room; 6/22 Tallahassee, FL @ Beta Lounge; 6/23 Orlando, FL @ Sapphire; 6/24 Atlanta, GA @ Cotton Club; 6/25 Chapel Hill, NC @ Cats Cradle; 6/26 Baltimore, MD @ Ottobar; 6/27 Philadelphia, PA @ First Unitarian Church.

Ja Rule disappears to Africa
Continuing his self-imposed sentence to obscurity, Ja Rule will celebrate the Fourth of July with three shows in South Africa. Ja plans to perform in Johannesburg on July 4, Durban on July 6 and Cape Town on July 9. After being overexposed and losing a good portion of his credibility by performing (and singing way too often) on mainstream hit after mainstream hit, Ja rarely has been heard from this year aside from his underground mix-tape battle with 50 Cent. He currently is working on his next album, Venni Vetti Vecci II, but it won't be released until next year. "It'll be my last for awhile, for a minute," Ja told Launch. "You know, go shoot some films and stuff but I'm gonna leave ya'll with a lot of music. I'm gonna leave ya'll with a double. I'm gonna do a double for real. No filler, all killer. Just hot tracks for you, you know what I mean, just hot, hot music." If Ja Rule can pull off a double album with no filler, then maybe he'll be welcomed back. But that's easier said than done.

Dr. Dre joins Bad Boys
Dr. Dre has been asked to contribute his golden touch to a movie for the first time. Dre is helping composer Trevor Rabin with the beats that will serve as the background music for this summer's "Bad Boys II." The soundtrack, fittingly enough, is being handled by P. Diddy's Bad Boy Records. The music Dre is contributing will not be featured on the soundtrack, but the score could be released as a separate album. The soundtrack itself drops in stores July 15 and the movie arrives in theaters three days later. Meanwhile, Dre also is working on production for upcoming Ice Cube and Eve albums, as well as his own finale, Detox. As always, no firm dates for anything the one-and-only meticulous Dre is working on are available.

Snoop Dogg causes stir in South Carolina
A trip to grandma's house turned into a spectacle in South Carolina for Snoop Dogg on Saturday. Between shows in Charlotte, N.C., and Myrtle Beach, Snoop decided to make a stop in Union, S.C., to see his grandmother and other family members, but when he had to stop at a convenience store to get directions word spread fast. "Then everybody seemed to know he was in town," his aunt, Earleen Broadus, told the Associated Press. Hundreds of fans gathered outside Snoop's grandmother's home during the two-hour visit. "Oh, I was so glad to see him," 92-year-old Corine Broadus told AP. "He came home from California when he was small, maybe 3 or 2. He's a man now. It's twice he's come to see me. Bless his heart. Some of his music is all right. But I believe in the church. I told him he could just leave some parts of that other out. He said, 'Oh, Big Momma, nothing wrong with it. I gotta make a living.' He looked good and healthy." After his visit, Snoop posed for pictures and handed out CDs to the fans gathered outside.

Ain't Lil' Kim a doll?
Well, she will be soon, according to a British tabloid. Lil' Kim told the Daily Sport that fans will get the chance to purchase a life-size replica of the Queen Bee in the near future. "I am going to make a life-size Kim doll that will be anatomically correct in every way," Kim told the tabloid. As for what someone would do with an anatomically correct Lil' Kim doll, well, use your imagination. Kim doesn't mind. "Being dirty is good," she said. "It is what made me what I am today. It's what people love." Kim offered fans an unintentional sneak preview of the real thing on consecutive nights at JAM'N 94.5's Summer Jam on June 2 at the Tweeter Center in Mansfield, Mass., and at Hot 97's Summer Jam on June 3 at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., when her skimpy outfits refused to keep her covered. When she wasn't thrilling the crowd with her peep show, Kim was taking care of business behind the mic, even bringing Mobb Deep on stage for "Quiet Storm." Click here to see Summer Jam pictures...

Master P arrested for illegal ammo
Master P was arrested Tuesday at Newark International Airport in Newark, N.J., for illegal use of ammunition. Master P, whose real name is Percy Miller, was attempting to check in a legally registered gun with Transportation Safety Administration officers for an America West flight to Los Angeles. The gun was cleared, but inspectors found a separate clip containing eight hollow-tip bullets, often referred to as "cop-killers." The bullets are illegal in New Jersey and several other states. According to a spokesperson, Master P cooperated with police throughout the process, which included being questioned and arrested by Port Authority officers and making a brief trip to Union County Jail before being released on his own recognizance. He is scheduled to appear in Union County court on June 20. If convicted, P faces up to a year and a half in jail.

Ludacris has a lot on his mind, plate
Ludacris' next album doesn't come out until September, but the extended period between his 2001 hit, Word of Mouf, and this year's Chicken and Beer has been anything but downtime. Luda is one of the stars of "2 Fast 2 Furious," which opens in theaters nationwide June 6. He also contributed two songs to the sequel's soundtrack, including the first single, "Act a Fool," and a collaboration with R. Kelly and "Furious" co-star Tyrese, "Pick Up the Phone." Fat Joe, Trick Daddy, Eightball and Dead Prez also are featured on the set, which drops May 27. Ludacris also is working on a new clothing line called C.P. Time that he has high hopes for beyond good sales. "It's kind of like a clothing line trying to just end racial discrimination," he told Launch. "We're not naive enough to just think that we can stop it altogether, but I think you know we can try to make a little bit of a difference. That's what this clothing line is all about. It will be great urban gear and I'm just here to sell it." Luda plans to debut the C.P. Time line by the end of the year. As for that upcoming third album, Ludacris told Rolling Stone that he recruited unknowns for the production to let people know who the hitmaker is. "If I keep getting hit songs with new guys it just shows that I'm the one who knows how to make the hit," he said in the interview. And Ludacris has something special planned for Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly, whose public outcries led to Pepsi pulling an advertising campaign featuring the MC, but he's not offering any hints. "You're gonna have to wait and see," Ludacris said. Pepsi announced that it had agreed to make a $5 million charitable donation to the Ludacris Foundation to avoid a Russell Simmons-led boycott in the aftermath of the incident, but Luda said he's still waiting for his money.

50 Cent controls top of charts
50 Cent is no stranger to the top of the charts. This week, his single featuring Nate Dogg, "21 Questions," takes the final step from No. 2 to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart. The move was sparked by the single's release in stores and completes a trifecta of No. 1s, adding to its reign at the top of the the Hot Rap Tracks chart and Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles chart. Meanwhile, 50's former No. 1 track, "In Da Club," is at No. 8 and his collaboration with Lil' Kim, "Magic Stick," sits at No. 10 on the Hot 100.

Treach prepares solo project
It might take a Treach solo album to bring Naughty By Nature back together. Kay Gee parted ways with Naughty in December 2001, but is rumored to be contributing a track for Treach's Ogogly, which also will feature Vinnie and Naughty album staples the Rotten Rascals. Treach and Vinnie's first Naughty album without Kay Gee, iicons, made a fairly decent debut at No. 15 on the Billboard 200 albums chart when it was released in April 2002 on TVT Records. No decision has been made about a label for Ogogly, but Treach is reportedly fielding offers from major labels and still is considering a release on Naughty's own Nature Records. No release date has been set. In the meantime, Treach continues to add to his acting credits, guest starring on two episodes of NBC's "Third Watch" during its recently completed fourth season.

Eve added to fall lineup
A pilot starring Eve has been picked up by UPN and is among the new shows added to the network's fall schedule. "My character's name is Shelly and she's pretty much like me," Eve told MTV. "She has bad luck with guys. Her love life is pretty messed up, but she's successful and very independent but looking to get married. Kind of like me." "The Opposite Sex" will air on Mondays at 8:30 p.m. ET. Will Smith also got some good news when UPN's fall lineup was anonounced. "All of Us," a show roughly based on Smith's real-life experiences with wife Jada Pinkett Smith, will fill the 8:30 p.m. ET slot on Tuesdays. Duane Martin stars as a divorced reporter who falls in love with a teacher played by Elise Neal. LisaRaye will play the role of the ex-wife and mother of their 5-year-old son. Sticky Fingaz got the short end of the stick when the schedule dropped, as the controversial "Platinum" was canceled by UPN. It had been marketed as the first hip-hop drama on network television.

Lil' Kim and Laila revealed
No, not on E! Right here on The 411 Online. We caught up with Lil' Kim and Laila Ali at the press conference announcing the nominees for the 2003 BET Awards on Wednesday, and both had plenty to say, especially about their inspiration to women looking to thrive in the so-called 'man's world' of hip-hop and boxing. "As long as you're willing to work hard and be the best that you can be, then you should be able to make it," Ali said. Kim agreed: "I feel that women are coming up and I thank God that we're able to be recognized for our talent in this game and not just for our bodies." Kim also touched on the fact that her game has changed. "My music has to show growth," she said about her latest album, La Bella Mafia. "So I think as long as I remain true to myself, my fans love anything I do." The Queen Bee will give back to her fans with a performance at the BET Awards, something she's looking forward to. "The best thing -- the thing that makes me happy -- is when I perform on stage and I see the adrenaline running through people in the crowd and they're happy and I've touched them in a certain way, just by my performance," she said. Both are up for honors at the BET Awards, which will air live at 9 p.m. ET on June 24. See the full Lil' Kim and Laila Ali interviews...

Jay-Z joins 40/40 club
Jay-Z will soon add a sports bar to his ever-growing empire. 40/40 is scheduled to open on May 28 at 6 West 25th Street in the Chelsea section of Manhattan. The club's name is a reference to major league baseball's exclusive 40/40 club. Jose Canseco, Barry Bonds and Alex Rodriguez are the only three players to steal 40 bases and hit 40 home runs in the same season. The sports bar will feature video games, widescreen televisions and a cigar room spread out over 8,000 square feet.

And the BET nominees are...
Missy Elliott is up for four BET Awards, leading the nominations for the third annual event, which will take place next month at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood. Lil' Kim and Laila Ali were among those on hand Wednesday to announce the nominations, including Elliott's nods for best female hip-hop artist, video of the year, best collaboration and the viewers choice award. 50 Cent was a triple-nominee in the best new artist, best male hip-hop artist and viewers choice categories. But the toughest task facing any MC has got to be the one in front of Mos Def, who received a nod alongside the likes of Denzel Washington and Samuel L. Jackson in the best actor category. Can't you just hear Mos saying "It was an honor just to be nominated" already? Snoop Dogg, Lil' Kim, 50 Cent and James Brown, who will take home the lifetime achievement award, are among those scheduled to perform. The 2003 BET Awards will air live on the cable network at 9 p.m. ET on June 24. Tickets for the ceremony are available through Ticketmaster for $75-$200. See all of the nominees...

Method Man is ready to rumble
Method Man is being billed as the host of an all-star tour in support of Def Jam Vendetta, the recently released wrestlting video game starring the label's artists. The tour, which is believed to be the first major trek to promote the release of a video game, will hit 21 cities beginning Saturday, May 10, in Milwaukee. Capone-N-Noreaga, Keith Murray, Joe Budden and Caddillac Tah also are scheduled to perform. Meanwhile, Meth, who recently guest starred on "Boston Public," might turn his video-game experience into a real-life adventure. In an appearance on CBS' "The Late Late Show" last week, Method Man told Craig Kilborn: "If the WWE had some open positions I'd be there in a heartbeat. I'd be better than The Rock. You've got to respect what those guys do -- putting their bodies on the line every night just for entertainment purposes." That was enough for Kilborn to get WWE founder Vince McMahon on the phone to set up a fight. Meth offered up a sampling of some smack talk -- "Brother, when you get to the arena, I'm gonna wrap these three inch pythons around that stack of dimes you call a neck" -- and McMahon thought it sounded like he had some potential, saying "Let's get him in the ring." Stay tuned to see if Meth landed himself a new role.

The full schedule: 5/10 -- Milwaukee, Wis. @ The Rave; 5/11 -- Chicago, Ill. @ House of Blues; 5/12 -- Pittsburgh, Pa. @ Club Laga; 5/13 -- Columbus, Ohio @ Brick Yard; 5/14 -- Cleveland, Ohio @ Peabody's; 5/15 -- Philadelphia, Pa. @ Chrome; 5/16 -- Baltimore, Md. @ Hammerjacks; 5/18 -- Washington, D.C. @ VIP; 5/20 -- Atlanta, Ga. @ Vision; 5/21 -- Orlando, FL @ Tabu; 5/22 -- Tampa, FL @ XS; 5/24 -- Miami, Fla. @ TBA; 5/27 -- Los Angeles, Calif. @ House of Blues; 5/28 -- Anaheim, Calif. @ House of Blues; 5/29 -- San Francisco, Calif. @ Fillmore; 5/30 - Portland, Ore. @ Roseland; 6/1 -- San Diego, Calif. @ 4th & B; 6/2 -- Phoenix, Ariz. @ Cajun House; 6/5 -- Norfolk, Va. @ Boathouse; 6/6 -- Raleigh, N.C. @ TBA; 6/7 -- Columbia, S.C. @ TBA.

Trina tries to block alleged sex video
Trina is attempting to block the release of a video that a web site claims contains scenes of the MC having sex. Lawyers filed a cease and desist order to block the site from selling the tapes, which are listed for $9.95 and slated for release on May 15. "We do not know whether the photographs or video footage contained in this video are, in fact, of our client. What we do know is that our client has not authorized the release of these photographs or this video footage," Trina's lawyer Bernard Resnick told, which first reported the story. "Trina has not authorized, nor does she intend to authorize, any such release, which she believes violate her intellectual property rights, trademark and servicemark rights, copyrights, name and likeness rights, right of privacy, and right of publicity."

Forgot about pay: Dre owes $1.5M
A federal jury has ordered Dr. Dre pay $1.5 million in damages to a British record company for copyright infringement. Minder Music Ltd., sued Dre in 2000, claiming that "Let's Get High," one of the lesser-known tracks on Dre's 1999 multi-platinum album, 2001, used Fatback's 1980 song, "Backstrokin," without permission. Minder Music's original claim was for $3.5 million, but U.S. District Judge Consuelo B. Marshall recommended the lower amount in the judgment, which has yet to be signed. Dre's lawyer, Howard King, continues to contest the judgment and believes the case will be thrown out. "We're not done," King told Billboard. "We're only in the seventh inning." 2001 sold more than 9 million copies worldwide.

50 Cent back at No. 1
After another brief trip to No. 2, 50 Cent returned to the top spot of the Billboard 200 albums chart for a sixth week. 50's debut album, Get Rich or Die Tryin', sold more than 127,000 copies to hit No. 1, but the weekly total was its lowest since its release. Get Rich or Die Tryin' has moved more than 4.5 million units since its Feb. 6 release. 50 Cent's latest offering, a music-DVD combo called The New Breed, dropped 11 slots to No. 21 after selling more than 46,000 copies. Elsewhere on the chart, Bone Crusher's Attenchun! debuted at No. 11 after selling 68,000 and Lil' Mo's Meet the Girl Next Door arrived at No. 17 with 53,000 sold.

VH-1 explores what drives Missy Elliott
Missy Elliott will be the next subject of VH-1's "Driven." Using rare home video footage of Missy performing in high school, in talent shows and on public access television paired with interviews with her mother, other relatives and high school friends, the episode will track her rise to fame. It also gives viewers a behind-the-scenes look at how Missy and Bassment Project collaborators Timbaland, Ginuwine and others built an empire and changed the game. "We had a chemistry," Timbaland says in an interview on the show."She would write, I would do a beat, she would write a song to it. So we was kind of stacking songs and stacking songs and stacking songs." "Driven: Missy Elliott" premieres Sunday, May 11, at 8 p.m. ET.

Juvenile not guilty of copyright infringement
A federal jury in New Orleans found Juvenile not guilty of copyright infringement Monday in response to a local MC's claim that the Cash Money MC stole the idea for his 1998 hit, "Back That A-- Up." Jubilee recorded a song by the same name, but a music expert from Tulane University testified that while the two tracks shared a name, nothing else was similar. Another expert from the University of New Orleans said the two songs were identical, but the jury sided with Juvenile. "Back That A-- Up" was a track on Juvenile's multi-platinum debut album, 400 Degreez. Jubilee still might appeal the decision.

Busta Rhymes battles accusations, Ja Rule
What started out as a favor for a friend has turned into a headache for Busta Rhymes. A woman claiming Busta assaulted her at a surprise performance in Fall River, Mass., landed the Flipmode MC in a courtroom telling his side of the story Tuesday. After the show, a 21-year-old Providence woman reported to police that she was assaulted. However, Busta's lawyers maintain the incident never happened and say Celine Giguerre is only after money and changed her story at the hearing, hurting her credibility. District Court Clerk Magistrate Ronald A. Valcourt will decide if there's enough evidence to charge Busta. Busta recently directed some of his frustration at Ja Rule, adding some shots of his own to a new version of Eminem and 50 Cent's "Hail Mary" that's making the rounds on hip-hop radio. The move was uncharacteristic of Busta, who admits as much at the end of his verse when he says he's going to "return back to his regular self and have fun again" -- but not before he lands some of the track's hardest hits. Busta's latest single, a collaboration with Mariah Carey called "I Know What You Want," is No. 6 on Billboard's Hot 100 singles chart.

ODB released, signs with Roc-A-Fella
ODB was released from a mental facility Thursday and -- in pure Ol' Dirty fashion -- promptly did the unexpected. With VH-1 cameras rolling for a new reality show and former collaborator Mariah Carey by his side for support, ODB held court at a press conference and announced that his new name was Dirt McGirt and that he had just signed a new deal with Roc-A-Fella. "Some things are just meant to be," ODB said. There was no word on when his first album on the Roc will drop or when the VH-1 series, tentatively titled “On Parole With ODB” will air.

Jay-Z, 50 Cent announce tour dates
Jay-Z and 50 Cent announced the details of this summer's "Roc the Mic" tour on Thursday. The 33-city lineup starts June 25 in Hartford, Conn., and wraps up Aug. 5 in Atlanta. The tour will feature a revolving roster of opening acts that includes Snoop Dogg, Busta Rhymes, Missy Elliott, Fabolous, Sean Paul and Lil' Mo. Each headliner also will bring backup from their respective camps: 50 will have the G-Unit by his side and Jay will welcome Memphis Bleek, Beanie Sigel and Freeway to the stage.

The full schedule: 6/25 -- Hartford, Conn.; 6/26 -- Saratoga Springs, N.Y.; 6/27 -- Mansfield, Mass.; 6/28 -- Scranton, Pa.; 6/29 -- Buffalo, N.Y.; 6/30 -- Toronto, Ont.; 7/2 -- Burgettstown, Pa.; 7/3 -- Philadelphia, Pa.; 7/5 -- Virginia Beach, Va.; 7/6 -- Bristow, Va.; 7/7 -- Long Island, N.Y.; 7/9 -- Cincinnati, Ohio; 7/10 -- Columbus, Ohio; 7/11 -- Cleveland, Ohio; 7/15 -- Moline, Ill.; 7/16 -- Chicago, Ill.; 7/17 -- Minneapolis, Minn.; 7/18 -- Milwaukee, Wis.; 7/19 -- St. Louis, Mo.; 7/20 -- Kansas City, Mo.; 7/22 -- Englewood, Colo.; 7/23 -- Salt Lake City, Utah; 7/24 -- Boise, Idaho; 7/25 -- Sacramento, Calif.; 7/26 -- Mountain View, Calif.; 7/27 -- Las Vegas, Nev.; 7/28 -- Phoenix, Ariz.; 7/29 -- Albuquerque, N.M.; 7/31 -- Dallas, Texas; 8/1 -- San Antonio, Texas; 8/2 -- Houston, Texas; 8/3 -- Beaumont, Texas; 8/4 -- New Orleans, La; 8/5 -- Atlanta, Ga.

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