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Help Lil' Kim choose next single
Lil' Kim is asking her loyal fans to pick what track they'd like to hear as the next single off her platinum album, Notorious K.I.M. All you have to do is click here and vote for whichever track you think should be the follow up to "No Matter What They Say" and "How Many Licks." Right now, "Aunt Dot" (featuring Lil' Shanice) leads the pack with 37.3 percent of the votes. "Hold On" (featuring Mary J. Blige) is second with 27.5 percent, and the title track is a distant third with 11.2 percent.

Outkast's Big Boi welcomes baby boy
Outkast canceled the remaining dates on their European tour so that Big Boi could rush home from Stockholm, Sweden, to witness the birth of his third child, but he arrived in Atlanta too late on Saturday. Big Boi's girlfriend gave birth to a 6-pound, 5-ounce baby boy that he had previously revealed would be named Cross. Big Boi also has a 6-year-old daughter named Jordan and a 1-year-old son named Bamboo. Although Outkast's European vacation with Eminem was cut short, American fans will be able to catch the group on tour with Ludacris and Slimm Calhoun, the first artist signed to Aquemini Records, later this month.

Eminem will attend Grammy Awards
Eminem took time out from his European tour to announce plans to attend the Grammy Awards on Feb. 21 in Los Angeles. "It's hilarious, you know what, and that's why I'm gonna go," he told MTV. Eminem has been nominated for four Grammys, including album of the year and best rap solo performance. Meanwhile, his latest lyrical target, Everlast, didn't receive a warm welcome during a stop in Em's hometown Friday. The former House of Pain MC's concert at St. Andrew's Hall in Detroit was cut short when fans forced their way past security and rushed the stage. One fan even grabbed the mic after Everlast escaped and explained that they weren't going to let him "come to Detroit and disrespect Eminem." Three people were injured in the brawl. Everlast and Eminem have been dissing each other on record for the past year or so. Everlast dropped a verse on Dilated Peoples' "Ear Drums Pop" that referenced "those who act shady" and fired the third shot in the battle with "Whitey's Revenge." Eminem has used the battle to try to promote his group, D-12, dropping a B-side called "I Remember" and then a song called "Quitter." No word on whether Ice-T or Everlast's original crew, Rhyme Syndicate, will be coming to his aid.

Big Pun mural will be redone
One year after he suffered a fatal heart attack, Big Pun will be honored with another mural in the Bronx. The new piece of art will replace a tribute that was painted on 163rd Street and Westchester Avenue shortly after Pun's death on Feb. 7, 2000. Fat Joe, Cuban Link and Tony Sunshine are expected to be in attendance when the new mural is unveiled. Loud Records previously announced plans to release a third solo effort from Pun, titled Endangered Species. The new album, which is due in stores on April 3, will be a collection of hits, collaborations and previously unreleased material. Big Pun's solo debut, Capital Punishment, was certified platinum, while his posthumous follow-up, Yeeeah Baby, went gold.

Trick Daddy prepares album, tour
Trick Daddy is ready to take over the spotlight once again with a new album, an appearance on HBO and a brief promotional tour. After dropping the hit singles "Nann" and "Shut Up" on his last two albums, Trick Daddy is about to drop "Take It To Da House," the first single from his new release, Thugs R Us. The album, which is scheduled to be released March 20, will feature guest appearances by Trina and several of Trick's other Slip-N-Slide labelmates. Trick Daddy will debut "Take It To Da House" during a performance on HBO's "KO Nation" on Saturday. The boxing event, headlined by Hector Camacho Sr. and Jr., starts at 11 p.m. ET. Trick will then head out on seven-city promotional tour starting Feb. 12. The tour will make stops in Houston (Feb. 12-13), Dallas (Feb. 14), Phoenix (Feb. 15), Los Angeles (Feb. 16-20), San Francisco (Feb. 21-22) and Sacramento (Feb. 23) before wrapping up in Portland on Feb. 24.

Witness: Shyne fired the shots
Robert Thompson, a victim of the Dec. 1999 shootings at Club New York who was shot in the shoulder, testified Thursday that he saw Shyne holding a gun moments after he fell to the floor. However, Shyne's lawyer, Murray Richman, still pursuing the possibility that his client's bullets were not the ones that caused the injuries to Thompson and two others, got Thompson to admit that he could not say for sure that Shyne shot him, echoing testimony that he had made before a grand jury. Earlier in the day, a security guard at the club, John Hassan Mahamah, testified that he saw Shyne fire three shots before being restrained by co-defendant Anthony "Wolf" Jones. Also Thursday, Foxy Brown's brother, Gavin "Pretty Boy" Marchand, testified that Puff Daddy had been having an argument with a man known as Scar just before the shootings. Meanwhile, Jay-Z's trial on assault charges in connection with the Dec. 1999 stabbing of Lance "Un" Rivera will be delayed because Richman is busy defending Shyne. The trial had been scheduled to begin in February.

Cristal chooses Jay-Z over movie stars
The makers of Cristal, the drink of choice for many of hip-hop's headliners, are very particular about how their premium champagne is portrayed in the media, according to a recent article in the Washington Post. Because
Jay-Z always presents Cristal as a status symbol, he has received approval to use it several times, including in the videos for both "Big Pimpin'" and "I Just Wanna Love U." But an upcoming movie starring Sandra Bullock and Liam Neeson was not allowed to use the product in their film. "If it makes Cristal look like a luxury item, we're pleased," one company official told the Post, citing that "Big Pimpin'" was filmed on a yacht and "I Just Wanna Love U" featured a refrigerator full of Cristal in an expensive home. "We get calls for films with really big actors, but we'll turn it down if we don't consider it a realistic scenario." The article traces Cristal's history in hip-hop, concluding that the Notorious B.I.G. was the first to mention the brand on Jay-Z's 1996 debut album, Reasonable Doubt, but we seem to remember 2Pac inventing a new drink that was "one part Alize, one part Cristal" a few months earlier on "Thug Passion" off his 1996 album, All Eyez On Me. It also analyzes product placement such as Prada, Gucci and Jigga's latest infatuation, Belevdere vodka, in today's hip-hop videos. Black Rob was quoted as saying, "I bet if I come out tomorrow saying that I'm drinking water, everyone will start drinking water."

Shyne's lawyer turns on Puffy
Shyne's lawyer, Murray Richman, suggested in court on Tuesday that a bullet allegedly fired by Sean "Puffy" Combs could have caused the injuries to three people during a December 1999 incident at Club New York. "Yesterday, for the first time, I heard that Mr. Combs is charged with firing a gun," Richman said, referring to prosecutor Matthew Bogdanos' opening statement, which accused Puffy of firing a shot into the club's ceiling. "Does the prosecution have any knowledge as to what happened to the slug? The crime my client is charged with deals with fragments or ricochets." The statement came during a witness identification hearing that only required Shyne's attendance. Puff Daddy and his lawyers were not present for the hearing. Shyne is charged with attempted murder and assault, while Puffy faces weapons and bribery charges.

DMX will serve 15 days in jail
A judge in Cheektowaga, N.Y., denied
DMX's request to overturn a 15-day jail sentence stemming from a traffic charge early last year. DMX is expected to return to the upstate New York community near Buffalo within the next two weeks to serve the time at the Erie County Correctional Facility in Alden. X originally was arrested in March for aggravated unlicensed operation of a vehicle, driving without a license, speeding, failure to signal, failure to notify the DMV of an address change and unlawful possession of marijuana, but pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of driving without a license. He was in the area for a Cash Money/Ruff Ryders tour stop. In the meantime, DMX is in the studio recording his fourth album, The Ear, which tentatively is scheduled for release on May 22.

Prosecutor: "Puffy fired a shot"
Opening arguments in Sean "Puffy" Combs' weapons and bribery trial began Monday, and prosecutors were quick to claim that the Bad Boy CEO not only had a gun, but also fired a shot into the ceiling the night that three people were injured at Club New York. However, Assistant District Attorney Matthew Bogdanos made it clear that Puffy is not being accused of shooting anyone. That distinction is reserved for Shyne (a.k.a. Jamal Barrow), who is charged with attempted murder and assault. "Mr. Combs fired a shot," Bogdanos said, who admitted that the alleged bullet from Puffy's gun was never recovered. "Witnesses will say they saw the muzzle flash. It appears that Mr. Barrow fired three times and Mr. Combs once." In his opening statement, defense lawyer Benjamin Brafman said that Puffy was singled out because of his celebrity status. "This case is about fame. This case is about money. This case is about opportunists," Brafman said. "The evidence will show that Puff Daddy would not be here if he were John Q. Public." Shyne's lawyer, Murray Richman, depicted his client as a victim of "jealous" people. The lawyer for Puffy's bodyguard, Anthony "Wolf" Jones, also addressed the court. Jones has been charged with illegal gun possession. After the opening arguments, the prosecution called its first witnesses, a police officer and Leonard Curtis Howard, another one of Puffy's bodyguards that night.

DMX is part of Super Bowl ad hype
DMX's new movie with Steven Seagal, "Exit Wounds," was one of about 30 advertisers who shelled out $2.3 million for 30 seconds of airtime during Super Bowl XXXV. Unlike many ads that aired during the big game, there was nothing especially creative about the spot -- just your typical action-movie trailer. X's name also turned up during Aerosmith and 'NSync's halftime show. Just prior to the MTV-produced mini-concert, fictional characters portrayed by Ben Stiller and Adam Sandler were prepping the performers backstage when Chris Rock walked in. "This is way too whitebread for me. How about some DMX or Jay-Z?" Rock said before going into a brief rendition of Jigga's "I Just Wanna Love U." Unfortunately, MTV did not abandon its idea to have 'NSync sing the verses to "Walk This Way." Instead, they brought in Britney Spears for a couple of verses as well and had Mary J. Blige sing the hook. Nelly, dressed in a half-Ravens, half-Giants jersey because his hometown Rams failed to make a return trip to the Super Bowl, closed out the song with a "E.I."-flavored verse. Note to MTV: Run DMC, Aerosmith and Kid Rock performing "Walk This Way" at the 1999 Video Music Awards was a good example of how to bring new and old pop music together for a mainstream audience. Sunday's halftime show was not, especially when the same song is used -- again. As for the game, the Baltimore Ravens beat the New York Giants 34-7.

Nelly performs at Super Bowl
Nelly has been added to the list of performers that will join Aerosmith on stage Sunday in Tampa during halftime of Super Bowl XXXV, which will feature the Baltimore Ravens against the New York Giants. Aerosmith, who has Run DMC and their 1986 remake of "Walk This Way" to thank for their comeback, won't be bringing the group along for this performance of the song. Instead, someone thought it would be a good idea for 'NSync to handle the rap verses. Run DMC, meanwhile, will perform Friday night in Tampa with Wyclef Jean at Pure RUSH, a Super Bowl party that benefits the HollyRod Foundation, a charity started by actress Holly Robinson Peete and Oakland Raiders quarterback Rodney Peete.

Puffy, Lopez say they're together as trial continues
Puff Daddy and Jennifer Lopez insist that they are still together, despite stories in New York tabloids on Wednesday and Thursday that reported otherwise. "They have not broken up. They are absolutely together," Alan Nierob, a spokesman for Lopez, said in a statement. Lopez repeated that sentiment during an appearance on "Live With Regis" that aired Thursday. Meanwhile, Lopez is expected to be one of the top witnesses for both the defense and prosecution in the ongoing trial of Puffy, his bodyguard and Shyne. Other prominent names on the list of potential witnesses include Deric "D-Dot" Angelettie (also known as the Madd Rapper), Voletta Wallace (Notorious B.I.G.'s mother) and Gavin "Pretty Boy" Marchand (brother of Foxy Brown). Meanwhile, the trial has been plagued by accusations of racism by both sides during jury selection, which was finally completed Thursday. Of the 12 jurors, five are women and seven are men. Six are black and six are white.

It's Tha Liks -- officially
After years of hassles related to their name, Tha Alkaholiks officially have changed their name to Tha Liks. "When we were on tour with Q-Tip and De La Soul, some states wouldn't even let us perform because of the name," J-Ro said in an interview with MTV. "It got us to where we are today, but we're ready to go forward. Most of our fans have been calling us Tha Liks for a while anyway." MTV also refused to air their early videos because of the name. But don't think for a minute that they're abandoning the liquor. Their upcoming album, due in May, is titled X.O., and one of its tracks is titled "151," although they claim the
Dr. Dre-produced cut is named after the address of the Las Vegas studio it was recorded in. X.O. will feature guest appearances by Kurupt, Xzibit, Busta Rhymes and King Tee.

Lil' Kim adds to acting resumé
There is no more important time for networks than November, February and May -- the sweeps months. Networks will try anything to get viewers to tune in during those three months because the ratings determine their advertising rates. Maybe that's why
Lil' Kim, who wants to seriously pursue an acting career, always seems to get her shots during sweeps. Last November, Kim appeared on "The Cindy Margolis Show." In November 1999, she shared the screen with Pamela Anderson Lee on "V.I.P." Now she will guest star on an episode of NBC's "DAG." Kim will play a secretary that catches the eye of series star David Alan Grier in an episode scheduled to air next month. Kim also showed up in the 1999 film "She's All That," and has upcoming roles in "Juwanna Mann" and "Jack of All Trades," which are both due to hit theaters this year. Her most recent album, Notorious K.I.M., suffered from sluggish sales, but still went platinum.

PE returns with The Black Album
Public Enemy is currently in an Atlanta recording studio preparing their latest album, which will be known as The Black Album. The album will be released through their official web site and is the group's first since 1999's There's A Poison Goin' On, which also was released over the Internet. One track that already is getting some publicity is "Son of a Bush," Chuck D's analysis of the recent election and its impact on American politics. The group also plans to record several tracks with a live band, no doubt inspired by Chuck and Professor Griff's experience with their own band, Confrontation Camp. In other PE news, last week Chuck D spoke at Western Michigan University for Martin Luther King Day, but for some reason organizers of the event distributed ads featuring Flavor Flav instead.

Shyne's arrest delays trial
Jury selection in Puff Daddy and Shyne's trial was delayed on Monday after Shyne was involved in a car accident that injured two people and led to his arrest Sunday night. Shyne was charged with driving without a license, although lawyers disputed whether or not he had more than one license. Prosecutor Matthew Bogdanos, who told Judge Charles Solomon that Shyne ran a red light and caused the accident, said the Bad Boy MC has a suspended Florida license and a revoked New York license. Shyne's lawyer, Murray Richman, disagreed, saying that several witnesses reported that the other car involved was the one that ran the red light. Richman also said that Shyne only has a Florida license. Solomon issued a warrant for Shyne's arrest Monday morning, but later rescinded it after finding out that Shyne would not face serious charges in the incident. The judge will consider raising Shyne's bail -- set at $50,000 -- after it was revealed that he had a Florida residence, which makes him a greater flight risk.

Ice Cube shifts focus to films
With the N.W.A reunion project
on hold, Ice Cube has shifted his focus back to films once again. Although plans are in the works to release a greatest hits album in April, most of Cube's upcoming headlines will revolve around movies, not music. His next film, "Ghost of Mars," a story about human colonists on Mars who must be rescued after becoming possessed by Martian ghosts, is due to hit theaters in late summer. Cube will play James "Desolation" Williams, a police officer sent to Mars to hunt down a criminal and bring him back to Earth. Cube also plans to begin shooting "All About the Benjamins" in March with "Next Friday" partner Mike Epps. Cube plays a Miami bounty hunter who gets caught up in a diamond heist while trying to track down a man who skipped bail (Epps). The film is in search of a distributor, since Cube scrapped his first-look deal with New Line Cinema after having several projects rejected. Despite other news outlets' reports to the contrary, the film was not inspired by Puff Daddy's 1997 hit "It's All About the Benjamins."

Eminem track sparks FCC fine
A radio station in Madison, Wis., is facing a $7,000 fine from the Federal Communications Commission for playing an unedited version of
Eminem's "The Real Slim Shady." A DJ at WZEE-FM, which found out about the fine Friday and immediately appealed, played the song around 3:30 p.m. on Aug. 24. The DJ, who was not identified, reportedly cued up the edited version then turned down his monitor to answer a phone call. Station representatives said that static electricity caused the CD player to skip ahead to the unedited version. A traffic reporter in another part of the building heard the objectionable material coming over the airwaves and informed the DJ, who immediately stopped the track. A statement on the FCC's official web site says that "The Real Slim Shady" contains content that is "inappropriate for broadcast during times when children may be in the audience." The FCC regulates broadcasts that may be indecent or offensive between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. Those of you who remember Kid Rock during his first 15 minutes of fame might recall that his 1988 track, "Yodeling in the Valley," sparked the highest FCC fine ever given to a college radio station for obscenity. WSUC, the radio station of the State University of New York at Cortland, was hit with a $23,750 penalty after playing the song in 1992. The fine was later reduced to $4,200.

Puff Daddy's trial begins
Puff Daddy's trial on gun possession and bribery charges began Wednesday in New York after a judge denied his lawyers' request to delay jury selection. Proceedings got underway Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. as approximately prospective jurors were led into the courtroom. Supreme Court Judge Charles Solomon promised the group "a very interesting case. If you ever had a desire to serve on a jury, I can assure you, professionally and personally, this will be a good one." Many of the 260 prospective jurors who passed through recognized Puffy -- elbowing each other, talking under their breath, or even gasping in shock as they entered the courtroom. The day ended with no jurors being picked. The trial is expected to begin next week and could last more than a month. Puffy, his bodyguard and Shyne were arrested Dec. 27, 1999, after Shyne allegedly shot three people in Club New York in Manhattan. If convicted, Puffy could face up to 15 years in prison.

Snoop's feud with Death Row continues
Suge Knight and Death Row Records continue to take shots at
Snoop Dogg, and there's no sign that they plan to let up any time soon. A derogatory ad campaign for Death Row's upcoming Snoop Doggy Dogg's Greatest Hits will appear in the March editions of several major hip-hop publications. The full-page ad starts off congratulating Snoop for his success, but the reasoning behind it becomes obvious as the ad continues: "Death Row Records knows that success for a Snoop Doggy Dogg album means $$$$ for Suge Knight. Keep it up because you know Suge Knight eats off your next three albums as well as your previous seven albums!!!" Plans were announced more than a year ago for the greatest hits album, which originally was supposed to be released in March but was shelved indefinitely for unknown reasons. The album is now due to be released this fall. Earlier this year, Death Row's official web site celebrated the advent of 2001 and the likely release of Knight from prison with a warning for Snoop: "2001, the year of fear. All doggs run and hide. Suge is coming home." The message was followed by a dog barking, a gunshot and then the sound of the dog in pain.

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