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Q-Tip leaves Violator is reporting that Q-Tip has left his longtime management company, Violator. It is unclear if the poor sales of his debut solo album, Amplified, which is just short of being certified gold, had anything to do with the split, but Tip has publicly expressed his disappointment with the numbers in the past. Apparently, Tip's failure to show at Violator's Super Bowl show on Jan. 28 in Atlanta was the first serious indication that something was wrong. Chris Lighty, head of Violator Management, has been Q-Tip's manager since 1990, when A Tribe Called Quest dropped People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm. Q-Tip is the second high-profile artist to leave Violator in a little more than a year.
Foxy Brown left in February 1999 after disappointing sales of her sophomore album, Chyna Doll.

Public Enemy joins protest
Public Enemy already has voiced its opinion on the record -- literally -- about the Amadou Diallo case. Now, Chuck D and Flavor Flav, whose "41:19" on last year's There's A Poison Goin' On referred to the fact that Diallo was hit 19 times out of 41 shots fired by four police officers, have joined Russell Simmons and others in protesting the verdict. All four officers were found innocent. "When I first heard that verdict, I was out of my mind," said Flavor Flav. "I'm like, no, this can't be true. How in the world can these cops get off for a brutal murder? That murder was brutal. The man had bullets in his feet." Chuck D was equally outraged in his statement: "The four cops acquitted in Albany... what could we expect? ... Does it take this jolt of bitter reality to wake black folks up? Unfortunately, maybe... cause the last seven years that peeps considered 'fighting the power' irrelevant, black folk were hypnotized by a facade that separated us from the diaspora. Bareskin, UPN, nor Benjamins are enough to dictate our total deficit in justice here, and we should know that much... we must always fight to keep from goin' under."

Puff Daddy pleads not guilty... again
Sean "Puffy" Combs pleaded not guilty in a Manhattan courtroom Tuesday to charges that he attempted to bribe a professional driver into taking responsibility for a 9mm handgun found in a vehicle Puffy was riding in after a shooting at Club New York in December. Prosecutors attempted to raise Puffy's bail from $10,000 to $150,000, but the request was denied. Instead, an additional $20,000 bail was added to the $10,000, which stemmed from his weapons charges in the same incident. Puff Daddy's only statement echoed what he released last week when the charges were announced. "I did not bribe anyone at anytime anywhere. I look forward to my day in court and being completely exonerated on all the charges." Puffy is due back in court May 16.

Foxy Brown attends film fest
Foxy Brown was among those turning out Tuesday for the New York City premiere of "Personals," a film being shown as part of BlackFilmFest America 2000. BlackFilmFest America is a spin-off of the Acapulco Black Film Festival, and is scheduled to tour other cities, including Atlanta, Chicago and Washington, D.C., in March. "Personals" was directed by Mike Sargent and stars Malik Yoba, Stacey Dash and Sheryl Lee Ralph. Brown recently appeared with L.L. Cool J and Fat Joe in Noreaga's video for "Blood Money Pt. 3," and she is preparing to work on her third solo album later this year.

Will Smith is Kids' Choice
Will Smith has been nominated for four Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards, including one for his role in the movie "Wild Wild West" and two for his song of the same name from the soundtrack. The artist formerly known as The Fresh Prince is up for favorite movie actor, favorite song, favorite song from a movie and favorite male singer. The awards show is in its 13th year and 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. Smith's second solo album, Willennium, has been certified double-platinum and he recently released the single and video for "Freakin' It."

Simmons speaks out on Diallo verdict
Def Jam Records chairman and co-founder Russell Simmons has joined those protesting the verdict of the controversial Amadou Diallo case. "I am horrified by the outcome of the Diallo case," Simmons said in a written statement. "This verdict stands as another reason for the community to stand together for a change. The hip-hop community moves as an army that has the power to elect government and puts the people first vs. the officially sanctioned and promoted police state mentality of Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. This verdict will continue to motivate me to be part of the aggressive effort that galvanizes our youth to register, vote and make changes in the current system." Diallo was shot at 41 times -- and hit 19 times -- by four police officers that claimed he was making threatening gestures with a gun. The "gun" turned out to be Diallo's wallet. Last Friday, a jury found the four officers innocent of all charges. Former Def Jam artists Public Enemy protested the killing on "41:19," a track on their latest album, There's A Poison Goin' On. Simmons publicly has supported Giuliani's opponent, Hillary Clinton, on Fox News Channel in their race for the Senate.

Method Man & Redman go Hollywood
Method Man and Redman are scheduled to drop by Warner Bros. studios in Burbank, Calif., Monday and Tuesday to film a cameo appearance for an upcoming episode of "The Jamie Foxx Show." The episode, titled "Jamie In The Middle," is expected to air in the spring. Ice Cube, Mary J. Blige and Gerald Levert have made previous guest appearances on the show, which airs on the WB network. Method Man and Redman recently released "Y.O.U." -- the third single and video from their certified platinum album, Blackout!, which peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard albums chart and now sits at No. 85.

Eminem takes home 2 Grammys
Will Smith kicked off the Grammy Awards with performances of his current single, "Freakin' It," and "Wild Wild West," but the perennial favorite went home empty-handed as Eminem won two of the three hip-hop awards. But Slim Shady, who won Grammys for Best Rap Solo Performance and Best Rap Album, just as easily could have stayed home "listening to his Will Smith CD," because neither award was part of the televised portion of the program. The much-deserving Roots won Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group for their single featuring Erykah Badu and Eve, "You Got Me." Significant others appearing at the show were Mack 10, who hung out with his honey, triple-winner T-Boz of TLC, and Sean "Puffy" Combs, who escorted the most popular outfit of the night, worn by Jennifer Lopez. Busta Rhymes also made his presence felt as a presenter, using his time on the mic to plug Rah Digga. But as an artist, he came away with nothing, despite being nominated in all three categories.

The complete list of hip-hop winners (in bold) and nominees:

Best Rap Performance By A Duo Or Group: "You Got Me" -- The Roots featuring Erykah Badu; "What's It Gonna Be?!" -- Busta Rhymes featuring Janet Jackson; "Satisfy You" -- Puff Daddy featuring R. Kelly; "Still D.R.E." -- Dr. Dre featuring Snoop Dogg; "Guilty Conscience" -- Eminem featuring Dr. Dre.

Best Rap Solo Performance: "My Name Is" -- Eminem; "Gimme Some More" -- Busta Rhymes; "Vivrant Thing" -- Q-Tip; "Wild Wild West" -- Will Smith (featuring Dru Hill & Kool Moe Dee); "Changes" -- 2Pac.

Best Rap Album: The Slim Shady LP -- Eminem; E.L.E. -- Busta Rhymes; Da Real World -- Missy "Misdemeanor" Elliott; I Am -- Nas; Things Fall Apart -- The Roots.

Puff Daddy indicted on bribery charges
According to the Associated Press, Sean "Puffy" Combs was indicted Wednesday along with his bodyguard on charges of bribing a witness. Puffy and Anthony "Wolf" Jones are accused of offering Combs’ driver, Wardel Fenderson, $50,000 and a diamond ring to say he owned a gun police found as Combs drove away from a New York nightclub where a shooting had occurred. Puff Daddy already faces gun possession charges in connection with the Dec. 27 shooting. "I am outraged by this new charge," he said in a statement. "I am not guilty. From the outset I have firmly believed that the Manhattan district attorney’s office has unfairly targeted me for baseless charges." The district attorney's office steadily has been building a case against him. Recently, prosecutors contacted the police department in Moline, Ill., to discuss a limo used by Puffy and his crew before and after a November 1997 concert. The driver of the limo allegedly found two loaded handguns in a compartment of the stretch Rolls Royce after Puff's bodyguards called saying they had left something in the car. Prosecutors are trying to use the incident -- and others like it -- to establish that Puff Daddy has a history of being around guns.

Jay-Z pleads not guilty
Jay-Z pleaded not guilty to assault charges in a Manhattan courtroom on Tuesday. The charges stem from the stabbing of Lance "Un" Rivera at the Kit Kat Club in New York last December. Jigga formally was arraigned Tuesday after being indicted by a grand jury last month on one count of first degree assault and one count of second degree assault for allegedly stabbing Rivera on Dec. 1. Authorities claim Jay-Z stabbed Rivera twice during Q-Tip's album release party, but his lawyers have maintained his innocence throughout. Jay-Z remains free on bail, and his next court date is set for March 29. Meanwhile, Jigga's fourth album, Vol. 3... Life and Times of S. Carter, has been certified double platinum.

Cash Money CEOs buy Magnolia projects
Cash Money Millionaire Juvenile put the Magnolia projects in New Orleans on the map. Now their record company has decided to buy them. Cash Money Records CEOs Bryan "Baby" Williams and Ronald "Sugar Slim" Williams already have purchased half of the projects' units, and plan to provide the residents with free housing to allow them a chance to save money so they can eventually move out. Besides Juvenile, the projects also were home to the label's Turk. Not to be outdone by his New Orleans rivals, No Limit Records CEO Master P also is planning to give back to the 'hood where he grew up. He reportedly is in negotiations to purchase his childhood home, the Calliope projects.

Thugs have Bone to pick with Bizzy
Bone Thugs-N-Harmony's latest video, which denies reports that the group has broken up, it seems that they are at least short one member. While Bizzy Bone (pictured) obviously made it to the video shoot, he has been a no-show at other events to promote the group's latest album, BTNH Resurrection. The list of absences is long and includes television appearances on BET's "Live From L.A.," "Rap City" and "Motown Live," as well as interviews with The Source and XXL. The group also reportedly backed out of a taping of "Saturday Night Live" because they couldn't guarantee Bizzy would be there. The remaining members -- Krayzie Bone, Wish Bone and Layzie Bone -- have publicly criticized Bizzy and no longer consider him a part of the group. BTNH Resurrection is scheduled to drop Feb. 29.

"Behind the Music" of Run DMC
VH-1 took an in-depth look into the career of Run DMC in its latest episode of "Behind the Music" and uncovered a few interesting issues that fans might not be aware of. While the show did spotlight the highs and lows of Rev Run, D and Jam Master Jay, from the pinnacle of their success with Raising Hell to Run's suicidal thoughts and rape trial, DMC's alcoholism and Jay's Christmas encounter with a bullet, it also revealed the current struggle the group is facing while trying to put out their new album. It's well known that the album, Crown Royal, has been delayed because their record label has been unable to get clearance to release tracks the group did with Limp Bizkit and Kid Rock as singles. But what you might not know is that DMC has been coming to terms with a change in his voice, both physically and spiritually. Run and Jay were forced to do several tracks on their own because D just wasn't feeling them. Meanwhile, D has been recording songs of his own at his home which have a decidedly different, slower, monotone sound. If you missed both airings on Sunday, the episode will be replayed Monday at 3 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. EST.

Court upholds JD's jail time
As we first reported in July, Jermaine Dupri was sentenced to three days in jail for failing to appear for jury duty last March. Earlier this week, Georgia's Court of Appeals upheld the decision, even though Dupri had offered to perform a benefit concert as community service. It actually was a concert that got him in trouble in the first place. After appearing for jury duty March 1, Dupri was excused on March 2 so he could leave town for a show. JD assumed he was excused for March 3 as well, but the judge didn't see it that way and charged him with contempt of court. The Fayette County District Attorney sided with the judge. "If they let this guy disregard his jury summons, what will stop other people from doing the same thing?" Dupri's lawyers plan to continue their appeal.

Missy Elliott sets record
Missy Elliott set a Billboard chart record last week when her current single, "Hot Boyz," stayed at No. 1 on the rap singles chart, but she isn't stopping there. The track held on to the top spot once again this week, making it 13 weeks straight for the Timbaland-produced cut. The previous record was 11 weeks, accomplished by three different songs: Coolio's "Gangsta's Paradise," Puff Daddy's "Can't Nobody Hold Me Down" and Da Brat's "Funkdafied." Elliott, who appears on the cover of the latest issue of Essence, couldn't have done it without the help of Nas, Eve and Q-Tip, who all appear on the track. Up next for Missy is the Grammy Awards on Wednesday, Feb. 23. Her album, Da Real World, is up against Eminem's The Slim Shady LP, Busta Rhymes' E.L.E., Nas' I Am and The Roots' Things Fall Apart for Best Rap Album.

Trick Daddy arrested
Trick Daddy and his manager face felony charges of disorderly conduct, resisting arrest with violence, and battery of an officer after a scuffle with bouncers and police officers at a club in Miami last weekend. Trick Daddy allegedly got into an argument with a female at the club when a bouncer got involved and tried to remove him. After Trick Daddy refused to go peacefully, officers attempted to assist the bouncers. Apparently, that's when Trick Daddy's manager, Alexis Thomas, jumped in, got an officer in a head lock and punched him. Both were arrested and both will be arraigned on March 3.

Common launches new web site
For those of you anxiously awaiting Common's new album, Like Water For Chocolate (dropping March 28), you can get an early taste on his recently launched official web site at Okayplayer ( The site features audio clips from the new album and past albums as well as an interview, discography and video clips.

Black Sheep back together again
Dres and Mr. Lawnge of Black Sheep have reunited and are working on their first projects together since 1994's Non-Fiction. The duo kicked off a 21-city club tour with Das Efx on Monday, Feb. 14, in Philadelphia. The tour will work its way out West and back, wrapping up March 12 in New Orleans. The Sheep, which released the classic A Wolf In Sheep's Clothing in 1991, also will contribute the title track to the upcoming soundtrack to "Once In The Life," an upcoming film starring and being directed by Laurence Fishburne. Tracks from KRS-One, Schoolly D, Guru and Kurupt's little brother Roscoe also appear on the soundtrack.

The tour's complete schedule: 2/14 -- Philadelphia, PA, Theatre Of Living Arts; 2/16 -- New York, NY, Wetlands Preserve; 2/17 -- Cambridge, MA, Middle East Club; 2/18 -- Staten Island, NY, Cylo Night Club; 2/19 -- Northampton, MA, Pearl Street; 2/20 -- Winooski, VT, Higher Ground; 2/23 -- Cleveland, OH, Peabody's Down Under; 2/24 -- Detroit, MI, St. Andrews Hall; 2/25 -- Chicago, IL, Metro / Smart Bar; 2/26 -- Lincoln, NE, Royal Grove; 2/27 -- Lawrence, KS, Granada Theatre; 2/28 -- Vail, CO, 8150 Club; 2/29 -- Boulder, CO, Fox Theatre; 3/01 -- Steamboat Springs CO, Inferno; 3/04 -- Portland, OR, La Luna; 3/05 -- San Francisco, CA, Maritime Hall; 3/07 -- San Diego, CA, Brick By Brick; 3/08 -- Tempe, AZ, Pompeii; 3/09 -- Albuquerque, NM, Sunshine Theatre; 3/11 -- Houston, TX, Waxx; 3/12 -- New Orleans, LA, House Of Blues.

Big Pun is laid to rest
Funeral services were held on Saturday in the Bronx for Big Pun, who was laid to rest at Woodlawn Cemetery in a private ceremony. Lil' Kim, Puff Daddy, L.L. Cool J and of course Fat Joe were among the celebrities that turned out for the public viewing late last week, as well as hundreds of fans. Big Pun's second album, Yeeeah Baby, originally scheduled to drop in April, will be delayed at least two weeks, according to his record company.

More news on Snoop, Big Pun and DMX

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