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Outkast, Ludacris plan tour
After a seven-stop European tour opening for
Eminem, Outkast will come home to headline a southern-flavored, 30-city U.S. tour featuring Ludacris. The tour kicks off Feb. 28 in Myrtle Beach, S.C., then hits the East Coast, Midwest and West Coast before returning to the southeast for a few more dates, wrapping up on April 15 in Charlotte, N.C. Outkast's fourth album, Stankonia, which currently sits at No. 7 on the Billboard 200 after 10 weeks on the chart, has been certified double-platinum. Ludacris' platinum debut, Back For The First Time, is at No. 21 after 12 weeks on the chart.

Eminem and Outkast's European tour schedule: Feb. 2 -- Stockholm (Stockholm Globe Arena); Feb. 4 -- Rotterdam, Holland (Ahoy); Feb. 5 -- Brussels (Forest National); Feb. 6 -- Paris (Le Bercy); Feb. 8 -- Manchester, U.K. (Manchester Evening News Arena); Feb. 9 -- London (London Arena); Feb. 11 -- London (Mean Fiddler).

Outkast and Ludacris' U.S. tour schedule: Feb. 28 -- Myrtle Beach, S.C. (House Of Blues); March 2 -- Hampton, Va. (Coliseum); March 3-4 -- Philadelphia (Tower Theater); March 5 -- Boston (Factory); March 7-8 -- Washington, D.C. (D.A.R. Constitution Hall); March 9-10 -- New York (Theater At Madison Square Garden); March 11 -- Boston (Orpheum Theater); March 13 -- Cleveland (CSU Convocation Center); March 14 -- Detroit (Fox Theater); March 15 -- Cincinnati (Firststar Center); March 16 -- Chicago (Aragon Ballroom); March 18 -- Milwaukee (Hagles Ballroom); March 19 -- St. Louis (Pageant); March 21 -- Albuquerque, N.M. (Convention Center); March 22 -- Phoenix (Celebrity Theater); March 23 -- San Diego (Open Air Theater); March 24-25 -- Los Angeles (Universal Amphitheater); March 26 -- San Jose, Calif. (SJSU Events Center); March 28 -- Las Vegas (House Of Blues); March 29 -- Salt Lake City, Utah (E Center); March 30 -- Denver (Filmore); April 1 -- Austin, Texas (Music Hall); April 2-3 -- Dallas (Bronco Bowl); April 4-5 -- Houston (Ariel Theater); April 7-8 -- Atlanta (Fox Theater); April 9 -- New Orleans (Saenger Theater); April 14 -- Greensboro, N.C. (Special Events Center); April 15 -- Charlotte, N.C. (TBA).

Run DMC performs for Raiders
Run DMC performed at the Network Associates Coliseum in Oakland during halftime of the AFC championship game between the Oakland Raiders and the Baltimore Ravens. Well, make that Run JMJ. After skipping out on an appearance at the American Music Awards last week, DMC did not appear with Run and Jam Master Jay in Oaktown, either. Backed by a band as they performed tracks from their upcoming album, Crown Royal, the duo actually got a significant amount of airtime on the CBS broadcast of the game, and even made the highlights during ESPN's "Plays of the Week" on "SportsCenter." It didn't help the Raiders, though, who fell 16-3 to the Ravens. Maybe Raiders owner Al Davis should have paid N.W.A to make a halftime appearance. After all, the group probably is responsible for half of the franchise's merchandise sales during their time in Los Angeles.

Shyne gets political on next album
Shyne plans to go the political route with his next album, which is expected to be released this fall. The Bad Boy MC, who is facing attempted murder charges in connection with a shooting at Club New York in December 1999, told MTV that he is taking a more conscious approach to writing his lyrics. "It's gonna be a lot of political stuff, social issues. I gave kind of a reckless perspective last time," Shyne said in the interview. "This time around, I wanna give a more responsible perspective... Hip-hop is not responsible for violence in America. America is responsible for violence in America." Puff Daddy will be tried alongside Shyne on weapons and bribery charges. Jury selection is expected to start Wednesday, Jan. 17.

The Luniz plan a comeback
The Luniz are expected to reunite and release a third album this year on Koch Records. Though no official announcement has been made, Yukmouth's official site does state that the group currently is working on a third album that's due to be released in 2001. A representative from the site confirmed that they are planning to drop a disc this fall. The album would be the first for Yukmouth and Knumskull since 1997's underrated Lunitik Muzik. The Oakland duo exploded onto the scene in 1995 with their hit single, "I Got 5 On It," which propelled their debut album, Operation Stackola, to No. 1 on the R&B chart and platinum status. Yukmouth's second solo LP, Thug Lord, is set to be released by Rap-A-Lot Records on March 13. The first single, "Clap Yo Hands," should hit the airwaves soon. Yuk's debut solo offering, Thugged Out: The Albulation, was released in 1999.

Puffy's lawyer calls witness "a liar"
During a pretrial hearing, Puff Daddy's lawyer accused one of the prosecution's lead witnesses of lying to the press. Benjamin Brafman attacked the statements that witness Natania Reuben made in an interview that appeared in Saturday's New York Daily News. "I can present 30 witnesses, all with impeccable credentials, who'll say they were in Club New York and this woman is a liar," Brafman said. "This woman is a complete fraud -- everything about her is a fraud." Reuben claimed in the interview that Puffy brandished a gun in Club New York the night she and two other people were shot, and she is expected to repeat those statements in her testimony. Brafman also attempted to lift the gag order that a judge issued last week after Puffy appeared on MTV and BET and discussed the facts of the case, but that request was denied. Jury selection for the trial is expected to start Wednesday, Jan. 17.

Dre supports Eminem, rejects MJ
Dr. Dre is enjoying all of the controversy surrounding the four Grammy nominations that his protege, Eminem, received. "I love all the controversy," Dre told the Associated Press backstage at the American Music Awards on Monday. "What we're doing is working. We're pushing buttons. Wait 'til the next record." Dre, who was nominated for five Grammys himself, also said that he would "do something outrageous -- win all those awards I'm nominated for" at next month's show. One idea that was too outrageous for him was the offer to do production work for Michael Jackson's next record. "Somebody approached me about working with Michael Jackson, and I did say no because I like working with new artists or people that I've worked with in the past," Dre told MTV backstage. "I can develop them from the ground up. There's no set standard that I have to live up to or anything like that. All I have to do is go in the studio..." Despite all the Grammy nominations, Dre did not enjoy the boost in sales normally associated with the honor. 2001, which was released more than a year ago, sold only 19,000 albums and dropped six spots to No. 78 on the Billboard 200 albums chart.

Hip-hop invades television
Common, Snoop, Method Man and Master P are among the hip-hop artists who will spend time on the small screen during the coming weeks. Common will take the traditional route to your TV screen, appearing as a musical guest on NBC's "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" on Friday. He and Macy Gray will perform his latest single, "Ghetto Heaven." Snoop, meanwhile, is slated to guest star as a pimp on the 100th episode of the animated Fox show, "King of the Hill." As we reported in August, Method Man and Master P will be a part of the fourth season of HBO's "Oz." Meth will appear in three episodes of the prison drama as a young convict who tries to work his way up the ranks. P will appear in just one episode. Both are featured on the "Oz" soundtrack, which was released Tuesday and also contains tracks by Kurupt and Nate Dogg, Krayzie Bone, Cypress Hill, Trick Daddy, Three 6 Mafia, the Lox and Devin the Dude.

Victim claims Puffy had a gun
Natania Reuben, who was shot in the face during an incident at Club New York in December 1999 that led to Puff Daddy and Shyne's arrest, told the New York Daily News that Puffy and Shyne both had guns that night and will testify to that in court. "It's reprehensible that he can talk about his innocence and plead for compassion," Reuben said in Saturday's editions of the paper. "Where was the compassion on the night I was shot? Puffy had a gun. Shyne had a gun. And my life is now changed forever." Shyne faces attempted murder and reckless endangerment charges in connection with the shooting, while Puffy and bodyguard Anthony "Wolf" Jones face gun possession charges. Puff also faces a bribery charge. Puffy recently proclaimed his innocence in interviews on BET and MTV. The trial was supposed to start Monday, Jan. 8, but a judge delayed it and issued a gag order to all those involved. Jury selection now is scheduled to begin on Jan. 17.

Dr. Dre wins American Music Award
L.L. Cool J hosted,
Outkast performed, and Dr. Dre beat out Eminem and DMX for favorite rap artist Monday at the American Music Awards in Los Angeles. "I love the fact that I won," Dre told the Associated Press backstage. "It means somebody's paying attention to my hard work, and that's exactly what it is, a lot of hard work." Eminem also was nominated for favorite male pop/rock artist, but lost to Kid Rock. Run and Jam Master Jay of Run DMC introduced Toni Braxton, Outkast performed "Ms. Jackson," and Mystikal, Ja Rule, Nelly, Snoop Dogg and Lil' Bow Wow were among the presenters.

Zion I hits the road as part of "The Fantastic Four"
Zion I, The Micranots, Boom Bap Project and Foreign Legion are braving the cold January weather to be a part of "The Fantastic Four" tour, a yearly outing that brings together four of the hottest independent groups from around the country. The groups in this year's lineup hail from Oakland, Atlanta, Seattle and San Francisco, respectively, and have been holding it down for the underground scene, and "The Fantastic Four" tour gives them an opportunity to be introduced to new markets. The tour kicked off Thursday in San Francisco, but there are plenty of dates left to catch a glimpse of these rising stars: 01/09 Vancouver, BC @ Sonar; 01/10 Whistler, BC @ Garfunkel's; 01/11 Victoria, BC @ Victoria Hall; 01/12 Seattle, WA @ I-Spy; 01/13 Portland, OR @ Berbatis Pan; 01/14 Incline Village, NV @ Sierra Nevada Plaza; 01/15 Santa Cruz, CA @ Palookaville; 01/16 San Diego, CA @ Brick By Brick; 01/17 Costa Mesa, CA @ Tiki Lounge; 01/19 Los Angeles, CA @ Fais Do Do; 01/20 Phoenix, AZ @ Icehouse; 01/21 Tucson, AZ @ The Rock; 01/23 El Paso, TX @ The Avenue; 01/25 Austin, TX @ Mercury; 01/26 Houston, TX @ Club Waxx; 01/27 Dallas, TX @ Rosebud Theatre; 01/28 Oklahoma City @ The Forum; 01/30 Salt Lake City @ Wherehouse.

Jay-Z addresses rumors
In an online chat with USA Today on Friday,
Jay-Z answered a variety of not-so-probing questions from fans and critics across the globe. One topic of interest that has been talked about on the regular since The Dynasty: Roc La Familia dropped is the status of Amil. "We were working so fast, and she had just finished her album," Jay-Z said. "We didn't want to destroy the vibe." Jigga also denied any beef with Nas or Prodigy, but did say that he felt he was "one of the top, if not the top, hip-hop artists." Even so, he said he had no new projects planned, other than a tour scheduled to start in March. "I'm just sitting back and letting Bleek and Beanie Sigel take over." While Jay reportedly has been seen around town with Rosario Dawson, he probably won't be spending Valentine's Day with her. Jigga's court date has been set for Feb. 14. He will face first and second degree assault charges in connection with the December 1999 stabbing of Lance "Un" Rivera.

Puffy defends himself on BET
Puff Daddy proclaimed his innocence repeatedly during a two-part interview on "BET Tonight with Tavis Smiley." "I'm totally innocent," Puff said of his upcoming case on charges of gun possession. The interview, which took place Wednesday and Thursday, spanned a variety of topics outside of Puff's legal battles, from his relationship with Jennifer Lopez to his active involvement in charity work with Daddy's House. When Smiley asked if he thought Biggie and 2Pac's lyrical content contributed to their deaths, Puffy said that their murders were no different than those that happen on the streets every day. "Biggie's a human being first. And 2Pac is a human being first. They were a part of our community. The reality is that other members of our community that aren't named Biggie and 2Pac are getting gunned down... Biggie and 2Pac aren't here -- not because of hip-hop. They're not here because of ignorance." Puffy went on to say that people who blame hip-hop for their own violent crimes are wrong. "You can't use hip-hop as a scapegoat." As far as the status of his relationship with Lopez, which has been the subject of countless rumors since the shooting took place in December 1999, Puffy said that the trying times have "made our relationship stronger, and more importantly, made our friendship stronger."

KRS-One prepares his return
After more than 13 years and eight albums with Jive Records, KRS-One has decided to part ways and record for his own label. His new album, Sneak Attack, is scheduled to drop March 27 on Front Page Entertainment in association with Koch Entertainment, the home of Afu-Ra, B-Legit and former Onyx member Fredro Starr. "Sneak Attack will restore the focus of hip-hop culture," KRS said in a released statement. "It will offer an alternative to the sometimes over-commercialized rap product of today. I don't perform solely for money. I only rhyme when it is necessary, and it has become necessary." Boogie Down Productions recorded four studio albums and one live album on Jive, while KRS-One dropped three solo discs. BDP's debut classic, Criminal Minded, was released on Sugar Hill Records. The first single from Sneak Attack, "Hot," is expected to be released next week.

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