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Bits & Bytes

March 31, 2000

Oscars Blow Pass The Hurricane

The 72nd Annual Academy Awards was held this past Sunday bringing out some of the best in Hollywood. Denzel Washington came up short for his bid as "Best Actor in a Lead Role" despite his acclaimed performance in The Hurricane. Kevin Spacey ended up walking away with the honor for his performance in American Beauty. Russell Crowe (The Insider), Sean Penn (Sweet and Lowdown, and Richard Farnsworth (The Straight and Narrow () were the other actors up for the award.

Michael Clarke Duncan also was disappointed but you sure couldn't tell by the smile on his face. His role as John Coffey in The Green Milelost in its bid for "Best Supporting Actor." Michael Caine won his second Oscar in this category for his work in The Cider House Rules. Jude Law (The Talented Mr. Ripley), Haley Joel Osment (The Sixth Sense and Tom Cruise (Magnolia) were also nominated in that category.

Erykah Badu made her Oscar debut as a presenter this year and made her film debut in The Cider House Rules. Other presenters included Angela Bassett and Samuel L. Jackson. Jackson was nominated in 1994 for his role in Pulp Fiction and is currently filming the movie Shaft. Here is complete list of this year's Academy Award winners.

BEST PICTURE
AMERICAN BEAUTY

DIRECTING
AMERICAN BEAUTY

ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
Kevin Spacey American Beauty

ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE
Hilary Swank Boys Don't Cry

SCREENPLAY-ORIGINAL
AMERICAN BEAUTY

SCREENPLAY - ADAPTATION
THE CIDER HOUSE RULES

CINEMATOGRAPHY
AMERICAN BEAUTY

FILM EDITING
THE MATRIX

ART DIRECTION
SLEEPY HOLLOW

ORIGINAL SCORE
THE RED VIOLIN

FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
ALL ABOUT MY MOTHER

VISUAL EFFECTS
THE MATRIX

SOUND EFFECTS EDITING
THE MATRIX

ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Michael Caine The Cider House Rules

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
ONE DAY IN SEPTEMBER

DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT
KING GIMP

ORIGINAL SONG
TARZAN

SHORT FILM - ANIMATED
THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA

SHORT FILM - LIVE ACTION
MY MOTHER DREAMS THE SATAN'S DISCIPLES IN NEW YORK

ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Angelina Jolie Girl Interrupted

MAKEUP
TOPSY-TURVY

SOUND
THE MATRIX

COSTUME DESIGN
TOPSY-TURVY


March 30, 2000

Whitney Houston a No Show at Oscars

Whitney Houston recently said that she decided not to perform at this year's Oscars due to sore throat, but according to the New York Post, things aren't always what they seem. According to the Post, Burt Bacharach, one of the Academy Awards' musical directors got frustrated with her during rehearsal. Sources say he was heard saying, "Just leave. It's not going to work out." Country singer Faith Hill was called in to fill the void. The pop diva was originally scheduled to perform in a tribute medley with Ray Charles, Queen Latifah, Garth Brooks, and Isaac Hayes. Houston's initial rehearsal on Thursday only lasted fifteen minutes and was "totally out of it." On Friday's rehearsal, she reportedly missed cues and seemed "discombobulated" according to the Post. Bacharach removed Whitney from the performance shortly thereafter, just two days before the ceremony. Houston's publicist released a statement saying, "Whitney Houston arrived in Los Angeles with a sore throat. After participating in rehearsals for the 72nd Academy Awards show both Thursday and Friday nights, she was unsure that she would be better by Sunday. She therefore regretfully withdrew from the performance." An Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences spokesperson said, Houston "had a hard time singing because of her throat. She was upset about the whole thing and didn't want to leave."


March 29, 2000

Santana Remains at Number One

Santana continues to dominate the Billboard Top 200 with Supernatural, while Sisqo jumps four spots to number two this week with his solo debut, Unleash The Dragon. Dr. Dre and Macy Gray round out the top five at the third and fourth spots and Bone Thugs-N-Harmony hold tight at number five.

Black Rob's debut, Life Story, slips three to number six this week. Destiny's Child and Kid Rock slowly climb to the seventh and eighth spots and George Strait received this week's biggest blow dropping from the number two spot to number nine. Christina Aguilera continues to ride her Grammy success rising one spot to finish out at number ten.

Usher Set to Take The Tube and Screen by Storm

R&B sensation Usher is currently in Toronto filming an episode of "The Famous Jett Jackson" for the Disney Channel. Usher will portray a villain named Zander "The Z-Ride" Hall for the season opener of the three year-old program. Zander Hall is described as a world-class skateboarder and computer hacker who has been stealing the nation's security codes. The episode, titled "Step Up," will be filmed from March 20-22. The new season of "The Famous Jett Jackson" is scheduled to begin airing on the Disney Channel this summer.

In related Usher acting news, he will also be featured in this summer's western film, "Texas Rangers." Mr. "Nice & Slow" will play a sharpshooter alongside James Van Der Beek and Dylan McDermott. The film is scheduled to hit theatres on August 25th. He will then appear in the made-for-TV film "Gepetto," which stars Drew Carey and Brent Spiner. His previous acting credits include the films "Light It Up," "The Faculty," and the television shows "Moesha" and "The Bold and the Beautiful."

Queen Latifah Turns 30

Queen Latifah had on her show an all-star cast as well as a horde of her friends and family as they celebrate her 30th birthday. Pepa, of Salt-N-Pepa, joined her husband Treach and the rest of Naughty By Nature will deliver the Queen's birthday serenade. The rapper/actress turned talk show host was also visited by former "Living Single" co-stars Kim Fields, T.C. Carson, and John Henton. Latifah will also receive birthday wishes via videotape from such celebrities as Angelina Jolie, Mary J. Blige, Chris Rock, and Vivica A. Fox. The show itself has attracted many celebrities in the past and has been renewed for a second season. Viewers should check local listings for the time and channel.


March 28, 2000

Rapper DMX's Woes

An arrest warrant is out for rapper DMX, whose real name is Earl Simmons, after he failed to appear in a New York court on Wednesday to face charges of speeding, possession of marijuana, failing to signal a lane change and driving with a suspended permit. DMX also was arrested last year after police going through his Teaneck, N.J., home found an illegal weapon, ammunition and 14 pit bulls (whose keeping were in violation of a municipal ordinance).

Eve to Head Back to the Studio

Ruff Ryder's first lady, Eve, more than halfway through the Cash Money/Ruff Ryders Tour, has announced that she will soon be heading back to the studio to cut some new tracks, one of which will appear on the second installment of the Ruff Ryders compilation album Ryde Or Die Vol. 2. Eagerly awaiting her studio time, Eve will also begin to lay down tracks for the follow up to her multi-platinum debut, Eve: The First Lady Of Ruff Ryders, which she hopes to have out later this year. If that wasn't enough her third single, "Maniac," is slated for release in the up coming weeks.

Mariah Carey Drops Joe

R&B singer Joe has recently been dropped as the opening act for the Asian leg of Mariah Carey's "Rainbow Tour." While trying to squeeze in a set by rapper Da Brat, Joe's management learned his set was to be shortened from 45 minutes to 25 minutes. Since an opening act is only given a certain amount of time and choreography and technical difficulties wouldn't allow a change, he was pulled from the line up. Joe, who had been travelling with fellow R&B hit maker Chico Debarge, was told of the news by his manager Kedar Massenburg during a stop in San Francisco. Both Joe and DeBarge then flew back to New York. Joe's management stated that although he was disappointed to miss out on opening for the pop princess, he has no animosity. However, rumors have been circulating that both Joe and DeBarge were very frustrated and upset with what went down.

Joe lent his vocals to the late Big Pun's hit "Don't Want To Be A Player," and most recently sang with Mariah on her single, "Thank God I've Found You." His solo album My Name Is Joe will be released on April 18.


March 27, 2000

Former Black Panther Sought in Police Shooting

Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin, the former Black Panther previously known as H. Rap Brown, was captured Monday night in White Hall, Alabama, after an exchange of gunfire with law enforcement officials. The former Black Panther was being sought in Atlanta after allegedly shooting two deputies on Thursday as they went to arrest him for failure to appear in court on a theft case. Officer Aldranon English was listed in serious condition at Grady Memorial Hospital while Officer Ricky Kinchen later died. According to Police Chief Beverly Harvard in a news conference on Friday, Officer Aldranon English "has positively identified Al-Amin as the person who fired upon the two deputies."

According to AP reports, Al-Amin began firing shots after he was discovered, then ran into nearby woods. Federal and state agents then proceeded to circle him and released attack dogs. He was then arrested uninjured. Several other suspects have been detained for possibly harboring a fugitive, though no charges have been filed. No officers were injured in Al-Amin's latest arrest.

The officers were shot on Thursday when they were issuing an arrest warrant to the 56-year old Al-Amin, who failed to appear in court in January on charges of theft by receiving stolen property, impersonating an officer and having no proof of insurance, according to the Cobb County sheriff's department. In the 1960s, Al-Amin was a leader of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee and Justice Minister of the Black Panthers. Known then as Brown, he once exhorted blacks to arm themselves, saying, "violence is as American as cherry pie."

Al-Amin is expected to make a court appearance in Montgomery, Alabama today and then will be extradited back to Atlanta. In recent years, Al-Amin, a Muslim spiritual leader of a community mosque, has operated a small grocery store in Atlanta's West End. He has worked at trying to clean up drugs and prostitution in the neighborhood. In 1995, he was accused of aggravated assault, carrying a concealed weapon and possessing an unlicensed pistol after a man claimed he was shot by Al-Amin. The man later recanted his story and said he was pressured by authorities to identify Al-Amin as the shooter.

Comic Tom Green Suffering From Testicular Cancer

Tom Green, MTV's premiere practical joker and host of The Tom Green Show, recently announced in an interview with Entertainment Tonight that he has testicular cancer. Green, who is known for playing lewd practical jokes on his parents and friends, announced his battle with the disease during an interview with E.T. The 28-year-old comedian said that he had been feeling ill and initially thought he injured himself while performing a stunt for his show. Green was diagnosed on March 9th following a doctor's exam. He has halted production of "The Tom Green Show" while he undergoes treatment. His doctors said the disease is curable and he could return to work within a few months. In the meantime, MTV will air repeats of his show.

In related testicular cancer news, reports state that it kills about 300 American men each year. The first sign of the disease is a mass within the scrotum that grows gradually. Monthly self-exams for testicular cancer are effective in catching this disease at an early and curable stage. A self-exam for testicular cancer is best performed after a warm bath or shower. Heat relaxes the scrotum, making it easier to spot anything abnormal. The National Cancer Institute recommends following these steps every month:

* Stand in front of a mirror. Check for any swelling on the scrotum skin. * Examine each testicle with both hands. Place the index and middle fingers under the testicle with the thumbs placed on top. Roll the testicle gently between the thumbs and fingers. Don't be alarmed if one testicle seems slightly larger than the other. That's normal. * Find the epididymis, the soft, tubelike structure behind the testicle that collects and carries sperm. If you are familiar with this structure, you won't mistake it for a suspicious lump. Cancerous lumps usually are found on the sides of the testicle but can also show up on the front. * If you find a lump, see a doctor right away. The abnormality may not be cancer, but if it is, the chances are great it can spread if not stopped by treatment. Only a physician can make a positive diagnosis. His or her examination will include a physical exam.


March 26, 2000

Hendrix and Gillespie Among Class of 2000 Grammy Hall of Famers

The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences has released the latest list of records and artists inducted into its Grammy Hall of Fame. Among the Grammy's Hall of Fame elite are Jimi Hendrix, Sam Cooke, Dionne Warwick, Ella Fitzgerald, The Beatles and Dizzie Gillespie. "Purple Haze" by Hendricks, "A Change is Gonna Come" by Cooke, and "The Twist" by Chubby Checker were among the 49 recordings inducted into the Class of 2000. The Grammy Hall of Fame was established in 1973 by NARAS to honor recordings of enduring quality and relevance or historical significance. There are currently 498 recordings in the hall of fame. To be selected, recordings have to be at least 25-years-old and are selected by a panel from the recording arts field that includes musicologists and historians. Here's the complete list of The 2000 Grammy Hall of Fame recipients:

* "Amazing Grace" The Dixie Hummingbirds (Apollo, 1946) Gospel

* "Bells Are Ringing" (Album) Original Broadway Cast (Judy Holliday, Sydney Chaplin) (Columbia, 1958) Musical Show

* "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" Andrews Sisters (Decca, 1941) Traditional Pop

* "A Change Is Gonna Come" Sam Cooke (RCA Victor, 1965) R&B

* "Cheek To Cheek" Fred Astaire With Leo Reisman And His Orchestra (Brunswick, 1935) Traditional Pop

* "Chega De Saudade" Joao Gilberto (Odeon, 1958) Pop

* "Conversations With Myself" (Album) Bill Evans (Verve, 1963) Jazz

* "Copland: Appalachian Spring" (Album) Aaron Copland Cond. The Boston Symphony (RCA Victor, 1959) Classical

* "Desafinado" Stan Getz & Charlie Byrd (Verve, 1962) Jazz

* "Desperado" (Album) The Eagles (Asylum, 1972) Rock

* "Don't Make Me Over" Dionne Warwick (Scepter, 1962) Pop

* "Early Autumn" Woody Herman And His Orchestra (Capitol, 1949) Jazz

* "Ella Fitzgerald Sings Cole The Porter Song Book" (Album) Ella Fitzgerald (Verve, 1956) Traditional Pop

* "For What It's Worth" Buffalo Springfield (Atco, 1967) Rock

* "Frenesi" Artie Shaw And His Orchestra (Victor, 1940) Jazz

* "The Girl From Ipanema" Stan Getz & Astrud Gilberto (Verve, 1964) Pop

* "Groovin' High" Dizzy Gillespie & His Sextet (Guild, 1945) Jazz

* "A Hard Day's Night" (Album) The Beatles (United Artists, 1964) Rock

* "Hello Walls" Faron Young (Capitol, 1961) Country

* "I Loves You, Porgy" Nina Simone (Bethlehem, 1959) Jazz

* "I'm Movin' On" Hank Snow (RCA Victor, 1950) Country

* "The King And I" (Album) Original Cast: Yul Brynner, Gertrude Lawrence (Decca, 1951) Musical Show

* "La Bamba" Ritchie Valens (Del-Fi, 1958) Rock & Roll

* "Lady In Satin" (Album) Billie Holiday (Columbia, 1958) Jazz

* "Layla" Derek And The Dominos (Atco, 1971) Rock

* "Lush Life" John Coltrane With Johnny Hartman (Impulse, 1963) Jazz

* "Mustang Sally" Wilson Pickett (Atlantic, 1967) R&B

* "My Way" Frank Sinatra (Reprise, 1969) Pop

* "Night At Birdland" (Album) Art Blakey Quintet (Blue Note, 1954) Jazz

* "Nuages" Django Reinhardt And Stephane Grappelli With The Quintet Of The Hot Club Of France (Decca, 1946) Jazz

* "Pistol Packin' Mama" Al Dexter (Okeh, 1943) Country

* "Porgy And Bess" (Album) Miles Davis & Gil Evans (Columbia, 1958) Jazz

* "Puccini: La Boheme" Sir Thomas Beecham Cond., Soloists: De Los Angeles, Bjorling, Merrill, Tozzi, Amara (RCA Victor, 1956) Classical

* "Purple Haze" The Jimi Hendrix Experience (Reprise, 1967) Rock

* "Rollin' Stone" Muddy Waters (Chess, 1950) Blues

* "Rubber Soul" The Beatles (Capitol, 1965) Rock

* "The Sidewinder" (Album) Lee Morgan (Blue Note, 1956) Jazz

* "Songs For Swingin' Lovers!" Frank Sinatra (Capitol, 1956) Traditional Pop

* "Stormy Weather" Lena Horne (RCA Victor, 1942) Traditional Pop

* "Stravinsky: Petrouchka, Le Sacre Du Printemps" Igor Stravinsky Cond. Columbia Symphony Orch (Columbia, 1961) Classical

* "Sweetheart Of The Rodeo" The Byrds (Columbia, 1968) Rock

* "The Beatles" ("White Album") The Beatles (Apple, 1968) Rock

* "Theme From A Summer Place" Percy Faith And His Orchestra (Columbia, 1960) Traditional Pop

* "(They Long To Be) Close To You" Carpenters (A&M, 1970) Pop

* "The Twist" Chubby Checker (Parkway, 1960) Rock & Roll

* "Unchained Melody" The Righteous Brothers (Verve, 1965) Pop

* "Unforgettable" Nat "King" Cole (Capitol, 1951) Traditional Pop

* "What'd I Say (Part I)" Ray Charles (Atlantic, 1959) R&B

* "Wichita Lineman" Glen Campbell (Capitol, 1968) Country


March 25, 2000

Steve Harvey Reaches Syndication Milestone

The WB network has resigned the The Steve Harvey Show for 22 more episodes for the 2000-01 television season. The Steve Harvey Show is the network's highest rated sitcom in the 18-49 household demographic. The show averages 3.2 million viewers during its time slot. With the renewal, the number of episodes produced is now at 110, putting it in syndication status. The Steve Harvey Show now joins Sister, Sister, The Wayans Bros. and Unhappily Ever After as the WB's only four syndicated programs. Prior to the show's renewal, Steve Harvey had signed a talent holding deal with CBS to develop a half-hour sitcom because the network didn't have any options on the show beyond 1999-2000. The latter deal will probably be put on hold. The show stars comedians Steve Harvey and Cedric "The Entertainer," along with Wendy Raquel Robinson, Terri J. Vaughn, William Lee Scott and Merlin Santana. The show received this year's NAACP Image Award for "Outstanding Comedy Series, while Harvey and Cedric received the "Outstanding Actor in a Comedy Series" and "Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series," respectively.

The Saga Continues Between Dr. Dre and Death Row

Dr. Dre has filed another lawsuit against his former label Death Row Records and Musicmaker.com, seeking all gross earnings of the sale or distribution of downloads of material containing his performance. Musicmaker had announced last week that it signed a 3-year licensing deal with Death Row Records to sell the companies catalog of past and future releases on the internet. Most of Dre's signature work was with his former label including Dre's classic, The Chronic, LP, which Musicmaker is selling in it's entirety for digital download. An attorney representing Dr. Dre has sent a letter to Musicmaker.com demanding that the custom-compilation and download site immediately remove material by Dre. Howard King, Dr. Dre's lawyer has stated that the contract Dre signed with Death Row does not include a clause to sell or license any individual tracks except only in the same configuration that it was previously released, which means Musicmaker.com cannot sell individual songs. King said that he would be sending a Cease and Desist letter to Musicmaker. According to Billboard, Musicmaker vice chairman Irwin Steinberg, said, "The documents that were made known to us show that they [Death Row] have the rights to give us the rights." Representatives for Musicmaker have announced that they would not remove the tracks until a court decision ordering them to do so was issued. At press time, 27 of Dre's tracks were still available for custom compilation at musicmaker.com <http://www.musicmaker.com>.

Academy Awards Tossed out With Yesterday's Trash

Willie Fulgear found the missing Oscars late Sunday while rummaging through a trash bin searching for boxes for his planned move. The awards were still wrapped in plastic, padded with plastic foam and in individual white boxes. Fulgear said, "My foot hit one. It was heavy and I opened it up. Everybody knows who Oscar is." He stuffed the trunk of his car with the boxes and called his 22-year-old son to help him find out what they were doing in the trash. The son called police. Fulgear stated that he not heard the Oscars were missing.

The fifty-five gold-plated statuettes disappeared on March 10 from a Roadway Express Inc. loading dock in LA. Roadway Express had issued a $50,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the thieves. Company spokesman John Hyre declined to say whether Fulgear would be offered the reward for finding the Oscars. He said, "This is still an open investigation, so I think it would be inappropriate for me to comment now." Fifty-three Oscars were recovered. A special mark proved they were the true awards, which were found in pristine condition. The Academy placed an emergency order last week for replacements after the theft was discovered. The original statuettes will probably remain in police custody until after the ceremony on March 26th. The thieves who stole the Ocsars were captured by police today. More details will be released in a news conference later by LA police Chief Bernard Parks and Robert Rehme, president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Madonna Expecting another Baby

Madonna announced today that she is pregnant with her second child after several months of denying maternity rumors. The 41-year-old pop diva said she is carrying the baby of 31-year-old film director Guy Ritchie. Madonna and Ritchie met two years ago at a luncheon given by rock singer Sting's wife Trudie Styler. In a press statement, the couple said they "are happy to confirm the rumors that they are expecting a child at the end of this year." "We would be grateful if the media would kindly allow us some privacy at this special time and we thank you all for your good wishes." She already has a 3-year old daughter, Lourdes from her former relationship with actor Carlos Leon.

Ice Cube Set To Release Vol. 2

Ice Cube will be in Manhattan, New York on March 20th at the Virgin Megastore in Times Square for an autograph signing in support of his new album, War & Peace Vol. 2: The Peace Disc. The album includes appearances by Dr. Dre, MC Ren, Mack 10 and Chris Rock. Ice Cube will also appear on MTV's TOTAL REQUEST LIVE at 3:30 p.m./EST. "Until We Rich," Cube's first single off the new LP, features Krayzie Bone. Vol. 2 was released on March 21.


March 24, 2000

Everything's Coming Up Divas

Despite an avalanche of emails from VH1.com users begging for Janet Jackson and, er, Teena Marie to perform at Divas 2000: A Tribute to Diana Ross, it appears Mariah Carey, Donna Summer and Faith Hill have elbowed their way to the front of the line to honor the sole Supreme. All three will be appearing at the Divas 2000 show broadcast from Madison Square Garden on VH1 on April 11 at 9 PM ET.

Producers are planning for the artists to perform their own hits; songs made famous by Ms. Ross like "I'm Coming Out" and "Upside Down;" and also team up with the diva of divas herself for a series of duets.

The show will be something of a return engagement for Carey and Hill, who have both performed at previous Divas events. Carey brought the house down when she opened the first VH1 Divas Live in 1998 with her song "My All." Faith Hill officially arrived in diva-land in 1999 when she performed her hit "This Kiss."

Since then, Hill has topped the charts with her latest album Breathe. In other good news for Faith Hill, this week she was nominated for eight different TNN Music Awards, including Female Artist of the Year and Album of the Year. In the category of Entertainer of the Year, she will be competing against her own husband, Tim McGraw. The awards will be presented on June 15 in Nashville.

It's the first time Donna Summer has played Divas, but to her fans, it's about damn time. Tony emailed us saying, "Donna has always respected Diana and it should be a great show. Don't mess this good thing up! April 11th could be a history making moment if you can get an original Donna/Diana duet and release it as a single."

Curtis had other ideas. "Let me tell ya, if Mariah's really going to be there, you've gained yourself a million viewers!!!! It would be so awesome if Diana Ross, Donna Summer, and Mariah did a Supremes song together like, 'Stop in the Name of Love' or whatever. That would be the highlight of the night. I bet Mariah will sing her powerful rendition of 'Do You Know Where You're Going To' from the movie, Mahogany." Well, you never know.

Fans of Janet and Teena - and who knew there were so many of you out there - are best advised to have a little lie down and be sure to tune in on April 11. Because you never know who might drop in to pay their respects... Accompanying Divas 2000, or rather gritting their teeth and reeking of Brut, will be the Men Strike Back show. Scheduled to perform are the swoonsome Backstreet Boys, a fully clothed (maybe) D'Angelo, an emotion-drenched Enrique Iglesias, a nearly bald Sting, and a priapic Tom Jones. And maybe a partridge in a pear tree. No, we don't mean David Cassidy. It was just a joke.

By C. Bottomley


March 23, 2000

The Spirit Of N'Dambi

As people hurriedly dart in and out of the hotel lobby like worker ants, one vibrant young woman sits peacefully as the inviting comfort of the couch swallows her tall, shapely frame like quicksand. Much like the glow of the sun gliding down a sturdy country oak tree one early fall evening, her serene radiance mutes the buzz of surrounding activity. But beneath her calm demeanor lies a myriad of emotions and experiences that color this singer/songwriter, record label owner and mother, Chonita Nicole Gillespie, more commonly known as N'Dambi.

"It means the most beautiful," says the Dallas, Texas native breaking her silence to explain her name. "My God brother gave it to me. I think when he gave it to me, he meant internally," she draws her hands to her heart, "like my spirit. So, I find it befitting."

The spirit N'Dambi speaks of commands attention almost as quickly as her eight-inch afro. But for those who are not able to bathe in the warmth of her presence, her debut album, Little Lost Girls Blues, is more than a viable substitute. Not only does her album provide open minds with a portal to her spirit-filled world of dramatic instrumentation and heartfelt lyrics, but her moody vocals capture the emotional peaks and valleys traveled by music greats like Nina Simone and Chaka Khan.

"The album in and of itself is what I feel," says the former backup singer for Erykah Badu. "It's what I like. It's sincerely me. And I hope that because it's a sincere project, those people who it needs to affect, it gets to them. It may not go platinum, but those are not necessarily goals of mine."

But while a great deal of today's performers lust after precious metal, N¹Dambi's more concerned with how she plays the game - maintaining creative control is her primary objective. As one-half of Cheeky-I Productions, she initially released Little Lost Girls Blues independently with her business partner. Since the record has been a runaway hit, she has since attracted the attention of major record labels and is in the process of negotiating a spot as the opening act on the Texas leg of D'Angelo's tour.

"I have a problem with putting restrictions on albums because that forces a person to have a limit on their imagination," says N'Dambi. "I think that being able to get up everyday knowing that I'm working for myself and this is the path I chose... it's wonderful. I wouldn't have it any other way. I don't care how hard it is."

However, while putting out her album proves to be one N'Dambi's biggest challenges, it's nothing compared to what she's been through.

"Even when I went to college, I went after being divorced and a single parent. I had to figure out how I was going to go to school, work full-time and take care of my child."

After earning a degree in creative writing, it was off to tour the world with long-time friend Erykah Badu. "We were like whoever gets a deal first, we'll take the other one on the road. It just so happens that she got her deal first and I went on the road with her. Touring was a good experience anyway because it opened my eyes to the whole industry and just being able to watch and be an observer was a good thing."

N'Dambi is still watching, but this time from a different vantage point. With the release of Little Lost Girls Blues, the cost of creative freedom has forced her to walk the road less traveled. But that shouldn't be a problem for the rising star because her neo-soul sistah Badu has proven there is still a pot of gold - and platinum - at the end of the journey


March 22, 2000

Puffy, Busta, Missy, Nas Come Out For Big Pun Video

An all-star cast of hip-hop and rap stars have been added to the lineup for Big Punisher's posthumous video for "It's Hard," as Busta Rhymes, Sean "Puffy" Combs, Nas, Missy Elliott, L.L. Cool J, and Noreaga have all filmed sequences for the clip.

Those artists, along with DJ Premier, Mack 10, Xzibit, Angie Martinez, and Melle Mel, recently came out for the four-day, multi-city shoot, with director Chris Robinson traveling to Miami, Los Angeles, and New York City to capture all the cameos for the clip.

The special video tribute also features guest spots from Lil' Kim, Fat Joe, the Terror Squad, Mobb Deep, Funkmaster Flex, and the Wu-Tang Clan's Raekwon, among others according to Loud Records.  Principal photography for "It's Hard" was shot in Los Angeles earlier this month during the same weekend as the 14th Annual Soul Train Music Awards. 

The concept for the clip centers around the global radio premiere of "It's Hard" and features each of the guest artists performing one of the lines delivered by Big Pun, who died of a heart attack on February 7.  A rough cut of the video is already being screened for industry insiders, and Loud Records says that it hopes to deliver the final edit of "It's Hard" to various TV outlets possibly as early as this week. "Yeeeah Baby," the second album from Big Punisher, is due out on April 4.


March 21, 2000

Luke's Freak Fest

Luke Cambell will celebrate the release of his new film and soundtrack, Luke's Freak Fest 2000 with his "Freak Fest 2000 Weekend Bash" during spring break weekend from Thursday, March 23 Saturday, March 26. The highlight of the weekend is an all star concert paying tribute to the late Big Punisher. Artists scheduled to perform include Luke, Raekwon, Mobb Deep, LV, M.O.P., dead prez and the Goodie Mob. The concert will also be webcast on UBO's Lukeworld.com. The film is scheduled to be released on pay-per-view in May and DVD shortly thereafter. It chronicles a three-day beach party weekend where three young male college students get together with three female college students. The friends are from Chicago and haven't seen each other since they were kids and reunite in South Beach, Miami. BET's Rap City Host Tigger and world-renowned pimp, Bishop Don Juan, from "Pimps Up, Hoes Down," make their acting debuts in the flick. The soundtrack was released on Tuesday and features Big Pun, Quad City DJ's, Krayzie Bone and 95 South.


March 20, 2000

N.W.A. Reunites For TV Performance

Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, and MC Ren, three original members of the groundbreaking gangsta rap group N.W.A., have agreed to perform live together for the first time in over ten years.

The performance will take place Saturday, March 11 for a taping of the weekly USA Network series "Jimmy And Doug's Farmclub.com." The three original N.W.A. members will be joined by Dre protégé and new N.W.A. associate Snoop Dogg for the episode, which will air on Monday, March 27 at 11:00 p.m. (ET).

Dre, Cube, and Ren recently reunited in the studio for the "Next Friday" soundtrack on the cut "Chin Check." Snoop Dogg appears on the track in place of former N.W.A. member Eazy-E, who died of complications due to AIDS in 1995.


March 19, 2000

Toni Braxton Bringing The Heat In April

Toni Braxton will deliver "The Heat" when it releases on April 25. It has been four years since she released "Secrets," her last LP. "He Wasn't Man Enough," The first single from "The Heat," was produced by Rodney Jerkins. Braxton will kick off a promotional radio tour in the weeks to come. LaFace Records says that Toni intends to perform live throughout the summer, but the dates have not yet been not confirmed. During her four-year break, Braxton performed as Belle in the Broadway production of Beauty And The Beast, while in contractual dispute with her label LaFace. The dispute was resolved in early '99.

Music Retailers Go High-Tech To Compete With The Internet

In an attempt to appeal to a younger audience, several traditional music distributors unveiled digital kiosks at a recent record store trade show. This will allow music fans to preview, purchase, and created custom CD's in the stores. Software company Liquid Audio developed the software for the kiosks. Reuters quotes Liquid Audio spokesman Richard Fleishman saying, "Consumers have higher expectations and want a customized product and satisfying retail experience. . . . This kiosk lets traditional retailers leverage Internet music to expand their product line while maintaining their current storefront real estate.'' Others heading into the kiosk market are music distributors Valley Media Inc. and Alliance Entertainment Corporation. Valley Media Inc. intends to introduce their kiosks this summer. Chris Bartow, marketing manager with Valley Media, said, "Major record companies would be resistant because of piracy questions."


March 18, 2000

TLC's Left Eye Looks Forward To Solo Project

TLC has been firing on all cylinders supporting its hit album, "Fanmail," but with its U.S. tour wrapped up, the group's Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes is gearing up for a solo LP.

"I would like to have Lenny Kravitz on my project, as well as Prince," Lopes told the MTV Radio Network of the guest stars she hopes to line up for the album. "I'd also like to have Chris Gaines [Garth Brooks] on it... Madonna, maybe a song with Michael Jackson... and of course Lil' Kim. I love Lil' Kim.... There's so many people that I want to work with that I think I'm going to have to put out a double CD."

Lopes said she hopes to have her solo effort out around Christmas time.

LaFace Records, which handles TLC, said that details of Left Eye's solo debut have yet to filter back to them and could not confirm any details of the project.

D'Angelo's Throat Woes Postpone Shows

Perhaps D'Angelo gave too much of himself when his tour rolled into New York's Radio City Music Hall on Thursday night.

The day after the show, the R&B singer's record label announced that D'Angelo would not be able to perform Friday night at the same venue citing a severe throat infection. Virgin Records notes that the hitmaker has badly swollen vocal cords, laryngitis, and tracheaitis, and has been ordered by his doctor to rest his voice for at least 24 hours.

D'Angelo has now moved Friday night's show at Radio City to March 30, bumping a show in Boston originally scheduled for that day to a date to be determined. The rest of the singer's itinerary is expected to go on as scheduled.

The news comes after D'Angelo lit up the historic New York venue Thursday night with a performance that saw D'Angelo explore his rock side, smashing instruments during his rendition of "S**t Damn Mother F***er." The singer closed his set with a version of his hit "Untitled" that saw each member of his twelve-piece band leave the stage throughout the song, leaving D'Angelo to finish the song solo.

Here's how D'Angelo's tour looks now:

3/20 - New York, NY @ Radio City Music Hall
3/21 - Philadelphia, PA @ Tower Theatre
3/22 - Philadelphia, PA @ Tower Theatre
3/24 - Washington, DC @ Constitution Hall
3/25 - Washington, DC @ Constitution Hall
3/26 - Washington, DC @ Constitution Hall
3/28 - Cleveland, OH @ Palace Theatre
3/29 - Toronto, ON @ Massey Hall
3/31 - Chicago, IL @ Arie Crown
4/1 - Chicago, IL @ Arie Crown
4/3 - Denver, CO @ Paramount Theatre
4/5 - Oakland, CA @ Paramount Theatre
4/6 - Oakland, CA @ Paramount Theatre
4/7 - Los Angeles, CA @ Universal Amphitheatre
4/8 - Los Angeles, CA @ Universal Amphitheatre
4/10 - San Diego, CA @ Open Air Theatre
4/11 - Las Vegas, NV @ The Joint/House of Blues
4/12 - Phoenix, AZ @ Celebrity Theatre
4/14 - Dallas, TX @ TBA
4/15 - Houston, TX @ TBA
4/16 - Houston, TX @ TBA
4/18 - Nashville, TN @ T-Pac
4/19 - Kansas City, MO @ Midland Theatre
4/20 - St. Louis, MO @ Fox Theatre
4/22 - Detroit, MI @ Fox Theatre
4/23 - Detroit, MI @ Fox Theatre
4/25 - Newark, NJ @ New Jersey Performing Arts Center
4/26 - Washington, DC @ Constitution Hall
4/28 - Richmond, VA @ Landmark Theatre
4/29 - Greensboro, NC @ Special Events Center
4/30 - Charlotte, NC @ Ovens Auditorium
5/2 - Miami, FL @ Chrysler Hall/Knight Center

-- Robert Mancini, with additional reporting by Elon Johnson

Sisqo Ponders Ballad, Preps "Thong" Remix

Even though Sisqo's "Thong Song" is still on the rise and a remix version is also on the way, the Dru Hill member has very different plans for his next single.

"I'm thinking about going with a ballad, mainly because Dru Hill's career, we're pretty known for the ballads," Sisqo told the MTV Radio Network of the next offering from this "Unleash The Dragon" album. "I think I owe that to the fans, because those two million [who bought 'Unleash'] probably was the two million who bought the last two Dru albums. So I definitely need to give them that ballad sensation, because I gave them 'Got to Get It,' and they really ate that up. That took the album to a million, and now the 'Thong' has taking it to another million, so I think to satisfy the fans I'm probably am going to go with a ballad."

Sisqo's label, Island/Def Jam, notes that the next single from the singer's solo album has yet to be selected. However, a remix of Sisqo's "Thong Song" featuring Foxy Brown is on the way. The track will appear on the soundtrack to the upcoming "Nutty Professor" sequel and will hit stores on July 11.

-- Roger Coletti, with additional reporting by Robert Mancini


March 17, 2000

Pryor Seeks Restraining Order Against Son

Richard Pryor has taken out a restraining order against his 38-year-old son and namesake in a battle over the 59-year-old comedian's estate.

"Unfortunately, because of Richard Jr.'s unwelcome and aggressive efforts to seek audience with his father, it was necessary to prepare requests for restraining orders," says Pryor's lawyer, Lynda Larsen.

The younger Pryor wants to become guardian of his father's estate and went to court last month arguing that his father, battling multiple sclerosis, cannot care for himself. The son also accused Pryor's former spouse, Jennifer Lee, of draining the comedian's assets without consent.

The senior Pryor recently denounced those allegations with a statement: "Richard has been and is fully in control of his own circumstances and voluntarily employes Jennifer Lee on a full-time basis as his agent and personal manager.


March 16, 2000

Goodie M.O.B.'s Cee-Lo To Tie The Knot

The Goodie M.O.B.'s Cee-Lo Green plans to get married to his longtime girlfriend, Christina Shanta Johnson, at a private ceremony in Atlanta. The 24-year-old rapper met Johnson, who hails from Charlotte, North Carolina, at an Atlanta nightclub in 1997 as the band was working on its "Still Standing" LP and have been close ever since. The couple is also expecting its first child in the fall.

"This marriage is a fulfillment of prophecy," Cee-Lo said in a statement announcing the marriage, "so in that sense I feel a calm and an assurance ... about my love and my choice in a woman and a soulmate. "Christina reassures me that true love exists along with compatibility and having a genuine open-minded relationship in our age and time. She is the other half of my whole and has filled a void in me personally, spiritually, mentally, professionally, and emotionally."

Green and Johnson will exchange their personalized wedding vows on March 18 at Southwest Atlanta Church, with a reception to be held at a downtown ballroom with such guests as Jermaine Dupri, Outkast, Erykah Badu, L.A. Reid, Kenny "Babyface" Edmonds, and boxer Evander Holyfield. As for Goodie M.O.B., the band has just shot a video with TLC for "What It Ain't/Ghetto Enuff," the second single to be issued from "World Party."


March 15, 2000

Da Brat Arrested For Battery

Da Brat was arrested on Wednesday, March 8, and charged with aggravated battery for allegedly pistol-whipping a woman at a Buckhead club. Da Brat, who is slated to open Mariah Carey's North American tour this month, is accused of attacking the unidentified woman at Chili Peppers, following an argument with Da Brat's entourage, wherein the victim attempted to force her way into the nightclub's VIP area. The woman was also charged with a count of battery for her role in the altercation.

The woman was taken to Grady Hospital, where she received six stitches for a head wound, while Da Brat was taken into custody and released at 4:00 PM that same day, after posting $1,000 bond.

According to an MTV News article, Da Brat's manager, Lucy Ryans, called the incident a terrible misunderstanding, and said that although the rapper was definitely involved in an argument with someone at the club, Da Brat did not have a weapon and was not responsible for the woman's injury. Ryans went on to say that Da Brat was confident that the charges would be dropped, and that the incident would not affect her opening spot on Mariah Carey's tour.

Da Brat is next scheduled to appear in an Atlanta Municipal Court to face the assault and battery charges on Thursday, April 13, two days after her third album, Unrestricted, is due to be released on So So Def Records, and one day before Da Brat's 26th birthday. Happy birthday Brat!

Attempt On Da Brat

Late Saturday night, around 3:40 AM, March 11, two unknown assailants in a silver Ford Thunderbird fired 10-15 shots at a stretch limousine while it was returning five of Da Brat's friends and relatives to her Buckhead apartment. All five were injured and taken to Grady Memorial Hospital. Two of the unnamed victims were released after being treated, though all five are said to have sustained non-life threatening injuries. The two suspects, identified by the witnesses only as two black males, remain at large. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, even though Da Brat was in Cancun, Mexico filming the video for "What You Like," during the shooting, the victims told police that they believed this attack was motivated by the previous week's incident at the Chili Peppers club in Buckhead.

Da Brat had been arrested on Wednesday, March 8, and charged with aggravated battery for allegedly pistol-whipping a woman named Reszue Robateau when she attempted to force her way into the nightclub's VIP area. Robateau was also charged with a count of battery for her role in the altercation and was taken to Grady Memorial Hospital to receive six stitches for a head wound, while Da Brat was taken into custody and released that same day. Police are still investigating as to whether these two incidents are related


March 14, 2000

Kelis To Hit The Road With Wyclef Jean

Rising R&B starlet Kelis will hit the road in support of her Virgin debut "Kaleidoscope," beginning with a March 21 date in Atlanta and wrapping with two shows April 23-24 at New York's Bowery Ballroom. Ten of the dates feature double bills with Wyclef Jean, including a March 30 date at the University Of Michigan. "Kaleidoscope" peaked at No. 144 on The Billboard 200, and features the single "Caught Out There," which peaked at No. 9 on Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks chart. Kelis was also prominently featured on Ol' Dirty Bastard's hit single "Got Your Money," which peaked at No. 33 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Brandy and Countess Reunite

Brandy and Countess Countess have apparently made amends since the singer/actress paid Vaughn a surprise visit on her television set, "The Parkers." After embracing, Brandy gave Vaughn a bouquet of flowers, a plaque and a congratulatory letter from "Moesha" costar Sheryl Lee Ralph, thanking Countess for her contributions on "Moesha" which recently taped its 100th episode and is now ready for syndication. "The Parkers" is a spin-off from Moesha. Rumors had been circulating that the stars weren't getting along, causing Vaughn to leave the show. Brandy's appearance on the set marked her first visit to "The Parkers

Black Rob: Bad Boy's Ace In The Hole

The Bad Boy Entertainment camp comes out in full force on the debut from hardcore New York rapper Black Rob, "Life Story." The set, described as a gritty look at street life, features guest appearances by label chief Sean "Puffy" Combs, his girlfriend Jennifer Lopez, the late Notorious B.I.G., the Lox, Lil' Kim, Mase, Mario Winans, and others. Bad Boy is hoping the album might draw attention away from a number of recent public-relations fiascos. The label has been suffering of late from the mushrooming legal woes of founder Combs, as well as the exodus of several executives and the release of certain albums that haven't lived up to sales expectations. "Life Story" looks to be on its way: First single "Whoa!" is No. 11 on Billboard's Hot Rap Singles chart this week.


March 13, 2000

R. Kelly Offers U.K. Audiences Three Sides

R. Kelly Offers U.K. Audiences Three Sides The double-sided hit single has come back into favor in the U.K. singles market of late. But R&B kingpin R. Kelly is about to go one better with the British release of a triple A-side. The single, due March 27 on Jive, is tailored to the musical requirements of three different niche formats at contemporary British radio, containing two tracks from Kelly's current album "R." and one that was a major pop and R&B hit in the U.S. as far back as 1996.

The latter, "I Can't Sleep Baby (If I)," featured on his self-titled third album, reached No.1 on Billboard's Hot R&B Singles Sales chart and No. 5 on the Hot 100, but never charted in the U.K. It will now be aimed at adult contemporary-leaning playlists.

The two other tracks on the three-sided single are "When A Woman's Fed Up," with which Jive hopes to woo local commercial radio, and "Only The Loot Can Make Me Happy," earmarked for dance formats. Kelly's last U.K. single, "If I Could Turn Back The Hands Of Time," has just completed a 19-week run on the U.K. charts and is certified platinum for U.K. sales of 600,000 copies. "R." debuted at No. 2 on The Billboard 200 upon its Nov. 1998 release. "If I Could Turn Back The Hands Of Time" peaked at No. 12 on the Billboard Hot 100.
-- Paul Sexton, London


March 12, 2000

Teenage Millionaire

If rap mogul Master P had a "Mini Me," it would be Lil Wayne. In fact, the high school drop out has seen more places and earned more money than your local congressman. A diamond-studded Rolex watch hangs from his wrist. Precious jewels pepper his fancy necklace. And let's not even talk about the pinkie ring. Lil Wayne's debut disc Tha Block Is Hot (Universal), currently sits defiantly a top Billboard Music Charts like a hungry eagle carefully eyeing other recordings that wander to closely to his lofty position. You may not have heard of Lil Wayne before today, but the name Master P was once foreign to you too. And if this "Mini P" has anything to say about it, his anonymity is about to end. "People want autographs when I go to the mall," Lil Wayne says, when asked how success has changed his life. "Three years ago people wouldn't want autographs. People [recognize me], but that's about it. I still maintain my thug composure." He wasn't exaggerating the "thug composure" bit. Listening to Tha Block Is Hot is like riding a rollercoaster without a safety harness.

Songs like "High Beamin' " and "Remember Me" highlight the youngster's talent, and help to clarify the appeal he has with fans nationwide. Yet, the 16-year-old wasn't always a hot commodity. "Cash Money [Records] had a rapper Lil Slim from Hollygrove," Lil Wayne says. "He used to say 'I'm going to tell [Cash Money Records founders Bryan Williams and Ronald Williams] about you.' [At an autograph session] Baby told me to rap and I did. He gave me a card with his numbers. I started blowing up his pager and calling his office everyday until Baby saw that I really wanted to be down." In hindsight, it appears that Lil Wayne's tenacity paid off. He made his first appearance as a member of the short-lived group The B.G.'z, and in 1993 appeared on B.G.'s album True Story. Four years later, Wayne collaborated with Juvenile, B.G. and Young Turk to from the Hot Boys, and released the debut, Get It How U Live. The project sold over 400,000 copies in the South alone, and helped Cash Money Records secure a precious multi-million dollar distribution deal with music conglomerate Universal Records. Lil Wayne soon appeared on recordings released by the Big Tymers, Juvenile and B.G. With Tha Block Is Hot, Lil Wayne shows that his emergence into the funk-laden pits of rap music was no fluke. After listening to Wayne spew adult-oriented rhymes that all but demand a parental advisory sticker on the front of his CD, some fans are left feeling a bit squeamish - which is understandable considering Lil Wayne's tender years. Not many adults are comfortable with youngsters spitting rhymes about war and playerlistic lifestyles. "A lot is made about my age," Lil Wayne explains. "I came up so young and raw, [people] can't [mess] with it. I'm from the 'hood, not the suburbs. This is how I am, baby. Come down [to New Orleans] and spend a day with me and you'll see." Raised in the impoverished section of 17th Ward's Hollygrove community, Wayne says that he stayed away from serious trouble. And while he did drop out of school, Wayne believes that everyday experiences helped him better understand what life is about. "I look at life like an older person," he says. "I think five or ten years older because of who I've been with all my life." Those experiences helped shape Tha Block Is Hot, a meticulous selection of music resulting in a collection of grit, grime and despair - images that make Lil Wayne appear more grown-up than life has made him. While Lil Wayne speaks excitedly about his latest musical manifestation, life didn't always find him so optimistic. Unlike other kids, Wayne never wanted to be a working professional. He just wanted to be rich. "Nope," Wayne says, when asked if he ever had dreams of becoming a white-collar worker. "[Kids] in school be like 'I wanna be a doctor when I get old. [Kids] talking about what they want to do to be rich, but I wanna be rich now man." Produced by Cash Money Records' Mannie Fresh, Tha Block Is Hot displays some of the most creative tunes of the year. The title track features Lil Wayne and rappers B.G. and Juvenile in a lyrical game of kick ball, while "Fresh" features an eerie set of stings over a syncopated beat. "High Beaming" is a jazzy song that offers jingling sleigh bells accented by funky timbales. It's a disc Lil Wayne says is filled with "surprises because I'm always surprised. I always had great expectations, but I'm definitely surprised [at the project's popularity]. It still surprises me everyday." Lil Wayne fans, however, may be surprised to discover that his life has never been a "normal" one - normal by suburban life anyway. Besides the fact that the wealthy teen has never held a regular job, he once shot himself while playing with a loaded gun, and recently fathered a child. Still, Lil Wayne insists that the trappings of success won't change him from a down-home fellah into a Hollywood hustler. "I don't even like Hollywood," he says. And just what is it about Hollywood that Lil Wayne doesn't like? "It ain't New Orleans," he says. Spoken like a true Southerner


March 11, 2000

Big Pun Video To Be Shot

With the untimely passing of Big Punisher last month, friends of the Latino hip hop star are coming to show support by appearing in his new video for the single "It's So Hard." The video will be directed by Chris Robinson and will include appearances from Jennifer Lopez, Fat Joe, the Terror Squad, Lil' Kim, Mobb Deep and Raekwon among others. Donell Jones, who appears on the song with Big Punisher, will also be featured in the video. The video will include footage shot in New York, Los Angeles and Miami. A mural dedicated to Pun will also be seen in the clip. Punisher's long awaited sophomore album, Yeeeah Baby, is scheduled to be released April

Lil' Wayne's Girl Problems

Cash Money Millionaire Lil' Wayne is in the hot seat as he is receiving backlash from females in the hip hop community for his comments in the March issue of The Source magazine. The uproar stems from his response to the questions, "What's the first thing you do after performing a show?" and "What's Lil' Turk doing now?" Wayne's responses were "Fuck a ho, slang d*ck" and "That's my *igga; he chillin'. Probably f**kin' a ho or somethin." With the success of the Cash Money and Ruff Ryder tour, the teens must be getting their fair share of action with groupies. Tha Block Is Hot, Lil' Wayne's debut album has been certified platinum.

Da Brat Set to Tour With Mariah

Da Brat has signed on to be the opening act for Mariah Carey's sold out U.S. tour. Carey and Da Brat previously worked together on the singer's "Heartbreaker" remix from her current album, Rainbow as well as the remix to "Always Be My Baby" from the Daydream album. Da Brat will release her third album, Unrestricted, in April. The first single, "That's What I'm Looking For," is currently riding a wave on BillBoard's Top 20 Rap Singles Chart. Mariah and Da Brat can be found on the following sold out tour dates:
3/16 - Los Angeles, CA - Staples Center
3/18 - Las Vegas, Nevada - Thomas & Mack
3/21 - San Jose, CA - San Jose Arena
3/25 - Chicago, IL - United Center
3/29 - Miami, FL - American Airlines Arena
4/1 - Atlanta, GA - Phillips Arena
4/4 - Boston, MA - Fleet Center
4/7 - Toronto, ON - Air Canada Center
4/11 - New York, NY - Madison Square Garden

DJ Rob One Hospitalized

Shapeshifters' DJ Rob One (also a graf writer with The CBS Crew), who co-pioneered the "FLY id SHOW" on 88.5 FM, has been hospitalized with cancer. According to an article at VinylExchange.com, he is suffering from non Hodgkins lymphoma. Lymphoma refers to a variety of usually malignant tumors that arise in the lymphatic system, the circulatory system in which lymph (a colorless fluid which contains white blood cells needed to fight disease and infection) is collected and carried to the bloodstream. The cancer cells multiply, travel anywhere in the lymphatic system - even to other bodily organs - and cripple the immune system. Rob 1 hopes to move to a hospital that specializes in his type of cancer. Benefit concerts are being held in the Los Angeles area, but donations can also be sent directly to:
Robert Cory
525 South Ardmore Avenue, Ste. 151
Los Angeles, CA 90020


March 10, 2000

Method Man And Redman Set Dates For Tour

DMX, Eve, and Juvenile are currently out on the Cash Money/Ruff Ryders Tour, a Chronic 2000 Tour featuring Dr. Dre, Eminem, Snoop, Warren G, and Xzibit, is shoring up, and now Method Man and Redman have announced dates for their own spring tour. Opening for Meth and Red will be New Jersey's Outsidaz, who have just released a six-song EP on Ruff-Life Records titled "Night Life" and featuring guest appearances from Eminem and Rah Digga. As for Method Man and Redman, they have just released the video for "Y.O.U.," the new single from the rap duo's joint album, "Blackout," which has sold more than 1.12 million copies so far, according to SoundScan. The itinerary for the upcoming North American Method Man and Redman tour:

3/22 - Atlanta, GA @ Tabernacle
3/23 - Myrtle Beach, SC @ House of Blues
3/24 - Orlando, FL @ House of Blues
3/25 - Jacksonville, FL @ University of North Florida
3/27 - Roanoke, VA @ Radford University
3/28 - Washington, DC @ Nation
3/29 - Pittsburgh, PA @ Laga
3/30 - Detroit, MI @ State Theatre
4/1 - Milwaukee, WI @ Rave
4/2 - Chicago, IL @ House of Blues
4/4 - Denver, CO @ Boulder Theatre
4/6 - Seattle, WA @ Paramount
4/7 - Portland, OR @ Roseland
4/8 - San Francisco, CA @ Maritime Hall
4/10 - Los Angeles, CA @ House of Blues
4/12 - San Diego, CA @ 4th & B
4/13 - Phoenix, AZ @ Celebrity Theatre
4/15 - New Orleans, LA @ House of Blues
4/18 - Columbus, OH @ Newport Music Hall
4/19 - Philadelphia, PA @ TBA
4/20 - Rochester, NY @ War Memorial
4/21 - New York, NY @ Beacon Theatre
4/22 - Worcester, MA @ Palladium
4/26 - Orono, ME@ University of Maine
4/27 - Vancouver, BC @ House of Blues
4/28 - Philadelphia, PA @ University of Pennsylvania
4/28 - Rutgers, NJ @ Rutgers University
4/29 - Buffalo, NY @ SUNY Buffalo
4/30 - Ithaca, NY @ Cornell University

Whitney, George Michael To Team For Duet

Professional diva Whitney Houston has a greatest-hits album in the works, and the project promises to include a handful of new and reworked tracks, including a pairing with a diva of another sort... George Michael. The song featuring the duo will be "If I Told You That," which already appears in solo form on Houston's 1998 LP "My Love Is Your Love." Handling the production duties on the duet will be Rodney Jerkins, who gave the details to MTV News' John Norris backstage at last week's Grammy Awards. "It's supposed to be a duet between her and Michael Jackson," Jerkins began. "We couldn't get the Michael Jackson thing to happen, so George Michael was the next pick. I think he's gonna nail it. I can't wait to do the vocals, and everything's gonna be incredible." Other duets planned for the Houston package are one with Deborah Cox as well as "Could I Have This Kiss Forever" with Enrique Iglesias, a song which can be found on his "Enrique" album. The collection is due out in May.

TLC Joins Goodie M.O.B. For New Video

After taking the stage at the Grammy Awards last week, the ladies of TLC met up with Goodie M.O.B. in Los Angeles last weekend to shoot a video for the hip-hop quartet's new single. Goodie M.O.B.'s cut "What it Ain't" sees the group get some help from their fellow Atlantans, and the ladies rejoined Goodie M.O.B. on Saturday and Sunday for the shoot. Director David Meyers presided over the on-set proceedings, while producer Dallas Austin manned the boards for the track. "We had to solidify ourselves," Cee-Lo told the MTV Radio Network of the song. "Now is just the right time. We laid a hell of a foundation as far as groundwork is concerned, and our underground respect and notoriety is incomparable. We're ready to make that move." "What it Ain't" is the second single from Goodie M.O.B.'s third album, "World Party," which has already reached gold sales status (after selling more than 500,000 copies). The video for "What It Ain't" should surface in about three weeks.


March 9, 2000

Whitney Houston

Clive Davis, President of Arista Records, recently told MTV News that the long-awaited Whitney Houston anthology will be out in May. Spanning 15 years of her career, it will include songs such as "I Will Always Love You," "Saving All My Love For You," and "Greatest Love of All." It will also include at least two new tracks, one of which is said to be a duet with Deborah Cox, and the second, co-written by Q-Tip and Raphael Saadiq. Houston recently won a Grammy for her current release, and is set to receive the Artist of the Decade Award at the 14th Annual Soul Train Awards. This compilation is set to further solidify Davis' exit from Arista with a great successful bang!

MTV.Com to Finish Lucy Pearl's Album

Newly formed Lucy Pearl, along with Beatnik, Inc., the leader in interactive audio for the Web, and Pookie Records/Beyond Music, have come together to create the first ever "Lucy Pearl Finish the Album Contest" hosted by MTV.com (runs Feb. 23 - Mar. 26). The Beatnik GrooveGram contest invites visitors to the site to download Lucy Pearl's song "La, La," then remix it and have it placed as the final version of the song on the group's debut LP. The winner's name will appear on the LP, and the winner and a guest will be flown to the opening night of Lucy Pearl's tour. MTV.com is a unit of the MTVi Group, the world's leading Internet music content company featuring a comprehensive collection of music destinations on the Web."

Mistic Meets Def Jam to Produce Hit Drinks

While hip-hop is the hottest in music trends right now, Mistic is moving in quickly to take advantage of a unique opportunity. In a collaboration with Def Jam Recordings, a division of Universal Music Group and Rush Communications, Mistic is set to produce and market herbally enhanced flavored natural energy drinks. The product line will consist of four flavors that will be packaged in fully wrapped collectible 20-ounce glass bottles featuring biographies of Method Man and Redman. The launch of the product will be supported with the traditional marketing plan that supports urban records today.

The Charts Reflect the Grammys This Year

Traditionally, the Grammys Awards is a place where the old vanguard of the music business reminds the new young folk of the business that they are not taking over. This theory seems ironic when talking about popular music. This year, however, truly demonstrated the newest trend in popular music today. As growing acceptance of world music dominates the North American music scene, and more specifically the fusion of Latin music onto the Top 40 Charts, 52-year-old Santana took home eight statues for his album Supernatural. Although music novices might have thought that Santana was a new artist, he has been in the business for 30 years. Other winners included Christina Aguilera, Sting, TLC and Whitney Houston.

Jumpin & Jivin

Reported in a business exclusive to the New York Post, industry insiders are talking about Jive Records' possible jump to Warner/EMI. Zomba Group's Jive is in preliminary talks with Warner/EMI to make a deal once its distribution contract with BMG expires at the end of the year. Sources told the Post that Warner/EMI are trying to lure Clive Calder's Jive into the expected merge between the two by offering either a distribution deal or an out-right acquisition. It is rumored that the new music powerhouse will make a $900 million offer for Jive which has been taking over the pop charts with such acts as Britney Spears, Backstreet Boys, and NSYNC.


March 8, 2000

Halle Berry Cited
by Stephen M. Silverman

Prosecutors are deciding whether or not to bring formal charges against actress Halle Berry, who was accused by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department on Tuesday of fleeing the scene of a hit-and-run car accident.

Both Berry and the other driver were injured in the Feb. 23 collision that took place on Sunset Blvd. in West Hollywood. The criminal complaint by the Sheriff's office alleges that Berry, 33, was behind the wheel of a rented car that ran a red light. The woman driving the other car was treated for a broken wrist, while Berry's spokesperson told Reuters that the actress cut her forehead and required 15 to 20 stitches. In a statement, Berry, who won a Golden Globe for acting in the HBO TV movie "Introducing Dorothy Dandridge" and who recently announced that she was engaged to marry R&B singer Eric Benet, said she is "taking this situation very seriously."


March 7, 2000

The Latin Explosion
by Kenji Jasper

The "Latin Explosion" is a lot like The Matrix. All your senses tell you it's real, but when you look a little deeper, you'll find that the only thing explosive about Latin music in recent years is its marketing. To best illustrate my point, let's take a look at Carlos Santana, who won nine Grammies last week for his Supernatural LP, which to date has sold more than 7 million copies. Entertainment media has practically painted him as a new artist who just appeared on the musical radar, when in fact he's sold more than 28 million records worldwide and has been recording for more than 30 years. The success of Supernatural was not as much due to the public's newfound infatuation with Latin culture as it was the attempt of Santana and the more than 30 artists and producers who worked with him to create an album that appealed to the mainstream. Working with pop A-list talent like Matchbox 20's Rob Thomas, Wyclef Jean, Lauryn Hill, Everlast and others, Santana's guitar solos were a melody of instant platinum to record execs at Columbia Records.

The same dynamic can be applied to ex-Menudo heartthrob Ricky Martin, whose recent self-titled LP has also moved more than 7 million units by moving away from a traditional Salsa sound in favor of the pop production of "Livin' La Vida Loca," which neglected many of the horn and percussion elements of Martin's earlier music. The same can be said for Lou Bega's triple-platinum Little Bit of Mambo. Other artists like Christina Aguilera and Jennifer Lopez can also churn out pop hits and ride the "Latin Explosion" to multi-platinum status without worrying about style and/or originality.

But we've seen all of this before, haven't we. Almost 40 years ago, Berry Gordy, Jr. and Motown led black music down a similar path with clean-cut artists and clean-cut music that transcended the color barrier due to its universal vibe. The same can be said for the beginnings of jazz 40 years before that. In neither of those cases was there a "Black Explosion." Nor was there a "Caribbean Explosion" with the success of Bob Marley in the '60s and '70s. All of the hype this time around has more to do with America's attempt to cash on the rapidly-growing Latino population in the US. A multitude of records by Latin artists comes on the market annually, but their limited marketing and distribution (not to mention the language barrier) hasn't allowed them to break out of Spanish-only radio. A poll through Spanish Harlem, East LA or Adams Morgan, Washington DC, will result in a long list of artists you've probably never heard of, and won't, until their labels start paying for spins on Top 40 radio like the labels of artists in most other genres.

But the point isn't that the "Latin Explosion" is the latest bandwagon to somersault on top of. The point is that we've seen this happen before. Now that a handful of Latin artists have broken into Billboard's top 10, everyone is going to want a piece of the action. As we speak, majors, indies and labels in between are scouring the earth for music to face off against the current heavyweights. A label needed another Aaron Hall, so they signed R. Kelly. Island needed a Jodeci, so they got Dru Hill. But in the midst of all of this madness, the art and its artists are always the ones who get caught up. Shady contracts and mismanaged publishing are waiting in the wings for young cats who want a taste of Lou Bega's bankroll. And that's when the cycle starts all over again.

People of color have fueled America's cultural flame for more than 100 years and have always been the ones with the least to show for it. Today, Latin women grace the frames of music videos like newfound treasures and enrollment at salsa classes in Middle America is at an all-time high. But that's just today, and US Latinos, whether they be artists and producers, lawyers and label-owners, or the fans themselves, have their work cut out for them in making sure that their art form is here to stay and free of the tribulations that plagued those before them. The late Big Punisher was the first Latino rapper to go platinum. Who will come next? Jennifer Lopez was the first Latina actress to break the million-dollar mark. Will her success fling the door open for others? Only time will tell. But as Latin culture continues to "explode", anyone who wants to protect the art form has to watching for the flying debris.


March 6, 2000

No Limit Soldier Mac Arrested

No Limit Soldier Mac, 22, was arrested at his home and charged with first-degree murder on Tuesday, February 22, in Baton Rouge, LA. Mac, aka McKinley Phipps, is accused of fatally shooting 19-year-old Barron C. Victor as he attempted to break up a fight at Club Mercedes in Slidell, Monday night.

Mac, also known as Camouflage Assassin, was there to perform in the "World War Party," a concert named after his second and latest album, World War III, when members of his entourage allegedly assaulted a club patron. When Victor tried to intervene on the patron's behalf, at about 1:30 AM - just minutes before he was to go on - the Camouflage Assassin shot Victor in his upper-left side and then fled the scene. Paramedics rushed Victor to Slidell Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

"Witnesses identified Mr. Phipps as the gunman. Based on that information, we acquired warrants for Mr. Phipps' arrest." said, James Hartman, a spokesperson for the local sheriff's office.

Thirteen other men who were found at Mac's residence were also brought in; one of whom - Larnell Warren Jr., 28 - was arrested. According to Hartman, Warren will be charged with obstruction of justice for lying to deputies and providing a false alibi for Mac during the shooting.

Edwin Hawkins, general counsel for No Limit, issued a statement saying, "We would like to extend our deepest sympathy to the family and friends of the victim, Barron Victor. We know it is a very difficult situation for any family to be involved in; however, we stand behind Mac's plea of innocence in this matter and we are certain that once the truth is revealed, Mac will be completely exonerated."

Mac is presently being held without bail at St. Tammany Parish Jail in Covington, pending a grand jury hearing, scheduled for Tuesday, March 21. If convicted of murder in the first degree, Louisiana law dictates that he face the death penalty.


March 5, 2000

JD Appeal Denied

The man who brought us Silk Tymes Leather, Kriss Kross, and Whodini's comeback album, Jermaine Dupri, was sentenced to three days in jail for skipping out on jury duty in his hometown of Georgia. JD was scheduled to appear in court on March 1-3 of last year, and, after turning up for the first day, was excused with the rest of the jury pool from the second. Assuming he'd been excused from the third day, too, Dupri left for a scheduled performance at the Meadowlands in New Jersey. Fayette County Superior Court Judge Chris Edwards saw this violation as contempt and sentenced JD to three days in jail last May, despite Dupri's offer to perform a benefit concert, as a community service, instead. This sentence was just upheld on Tuesday, February 15, by The Georgia Court of Appeals despite Dupri's attempts to contest the decision. The Fayette County District Attorney showed his support of the judge's decision by telling a local newspaper, The Atlanta Constitution, "If they let this guy disregard his jury summons, what will stop other people from doing the same thing?"

Dupri's attorney, Michael Tyler, says he will continue to appeal the court's decision, however, stating that it was never Dupri's intention to disrespect the court.


March 3, 2000

Will Smith Leads Nickelodeon Nominees

Will Smith is up for four Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards, including favorite male singer, and favorite song for "Wild Wild West." Among the artists earning multiple nominations include Britney Spears, N 'Sync, Jennifer Lopez, Smash Mouth, and Christina Aguilera, who is up for favorite new music artist. Aguilera won the Grammy for best new artist earlier this week.

The awards show, now in its 13th year, will be broadcast April 25 from the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles. Beginning March 10, fans can vote for their favorites at Nickelodeon's Web site, including 10 online-only categories.


March 2, 2000

Return of Grand Mixer Q-bert

The Return of Grand Mixer Q-bert proves a reluctant turntablist hero in his NYC show Q-bert hadn't played in New York in three years, but his headlining appearance at the Fourth Annual Turntablist's Festival was much more than just the return of a celebrated DJ. The event, held at Manhattan's Symphony Space as a fundraiser for John Carluccio's turntable music documentary Battlesounds, featured brief appearances by more than a dozen scratchers from across the U.S. and Canada. When he took his place behind the turntables at center stage, Q stood both alone and in the center of a crowd -- in this case, a line of peers, friends and filmmakers armed with video or 16mm movie cameras. Stretching up or around each other to capture the action at the turntables without blocking the view of the audience, these observers formed the rings of a target with Q-bert as the bulls-eye. While more than a dozen other turntablists would follow Q-bert's thirty-minute performance with often thrilling -- yet undeniably familiar -- five-minute sets of their own, it was clear from the start that the greatest sense of anticipation centered around this returning hero. Looking pleasantly serious in a backward tweed cap and blue sweatshirt, Q-bert licked his fingers and stood almost motionless, before splashing out an initial salvo of scraping, whispering sounds from the record pressed under his precisely splayed fingers. His left hand rattled, possessed, flickering with impossible speed over the fader knobs on the mixer, each finger knocking the volume down one step in blinding succession to produce bursts of sound disappearing into an echoing distance; his right hand pressed with manic precision on the turntable, spinning or shaking or catching the disc to vibrate a pinpoint sound under the needle, reminiscent of the way B.B. King's finger detonates a guitar string. Q-bert's cuts would often come to a more graceful end than the blunt, sudden stop that concluded every other performer's work for the day, but it was still an informal magic show, with the tricks coming in loose bunches. Over and over, Q smiled and shook his head as he changed the records, silently bidding the roaring crowd not to applaud the performances that had seemingly disappointed him. The M.C. shouted a joyous "Fuck it up, Q!" as the second turntable played a vigorous rhythm track and the humble celebrity wandered out of the spotlight and toward the wings to find a misplaced disc to play next. Whether he loved the spotlight or hated it was unclear; his focus was on the turntable. The evening opened with a screening of an early edit of the Battlesounds documentary -- a rough, homemade seventy-five-minute video describing a patchy, oddly engrossing history of turntable music through shaky-camera interviews and footage of turntablist competitions. Interviewed extensively in the video, Q-bert demonstrated his techniques and described his early championships, noting that he only seemed to lose when his pumped-up ego convinced him that he would win. Recently Q-bert began emulating Miles Davis' use of silence and spare phrasing and has borrowed the sounds and traditional tools of hip-hop music to find his own voice. Soon the music was over, the door prizes given away, and a special guest was introduced with an announcement. Grand Mixer DST -- who brought turntable music to the masses on Herbie Hancock's "Rockit" seventeen years before -- took the mike. DST told the tale of his having been "knighted" as the Grand Mixer, and to celebrate Q-bert's skill, he passed along the honor. Yet as DST built up the praise, Q awkwardly gestured "No...", finally, reluctantly, accepting the mike to be honored as Grand Mixer Q-bert. "I don't deserve it," declared the world champion turntablist. "I still need practice...thanks, and I love you guys." Whatever it was Q-bert displayed, it was more than just a hard-won modesty. Q-bert is a world-class musician in a world overwhelmed with the novelty of celebrity and the distraction of success. No longer a kid, Q-bert the artist seemed only wary of the spotlight -- as if he knew it might somehow take away the one thing he's learned is most important.



October 31, 2014  
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