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We ain't going nowhere
To borrow another phrase from the Diddy we love to hate, "I thought I told you that we won't stop." It's been a bumpy ride to Miami for The 411 Online, but we're finally settled in. Getting a reliable Internet connection hooked up caused a delay, followed by one fried computer system, but we are back. And really, what did we miss? Hip-hop has reached soap opera status -- no matter how long you're away you can tune in and pick up the storyline right away. What was Tuesday's top story on the urban newsletter that loves to steal The 411's stories? Nelly and KRS-One's beef. Look below at our headlines and you see that ain't nothing changed since our last regular news updates. Turn on the TV and there's Eminem, attacking more pop culture icons and dressing up as others. What's new here? Wait, Jennifer Lopez has a new song on urban radio -- this time she's jacking the Luniz (pictured) instead of Craig Mack, just months after her buddy P. Diddy did it. Is this a good thing? And somebody please tell us what headline is more important than losing a member of our extended hip-hop family. Pushed back album release dates and petty squabbles between Dr. Dre and Jermaine Dupri just don't seem worthy of a headline when someone you know loses a life. The 411 Online probably has slipped down your list of favorites, but we're certain that this small step back will pay off in the long run. We've got a few interviews in the can, our traffic numbers remarkably are up, and in all honesty, no one has ever touched the news that our professional reporters have delivered, so we're confident that we'll be back on top in no time.

Left Eye dies in car crash
Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes was killed in a car crash Thursday night while visiting Honduras. Spokesman Jay Marose told the Associated Press on Friday that Lopes, 30, owned a condo there and visited the Central American nation often. "No words can possibly express the sorrow and sadness I feel for this most devastating loss," said Arista Records president L.A. Reid. Lopes was one third of TLC, the best-selling female group in history with more than 21 million records sold. TLC's Tionne "T-Boz" Watkins and Rozonda "Chilli" Thomas released a joint statement expressing their grief. "We had all grown up together and were as close as a family," they said. "Today we have truly lost our sister." The crash happened near Jutiapa, 150 miles north of the Honduran capital, Tegucigalpa. "The car rolled for reasons that we still don't know, and that are being investigated," police spokesman Luis Aguilar told the AP. TLC debuted in 1992 with Ooooooh... On the TLC Tip! In 1994, the trio dropped CrazySexyCool, which went quadruple platinum and garnered them two Grammy Awards. Their 2000 followup, "Fanmail," reached triple-platinum status. Lopes made headlines in 1994 when she set a fire that destroyed the million-dollar mansion of her boyfriend, former Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Andre Rison. Lopes pleaded guilty to arson, was fined $10,000 and was sentenced to a halfway house and five years' probation. Lopes and Rison later broke up, but last year they announced plans to get married. Lopes had branched out on her own in recent years, starting her own company and hosting MTV's "The Cut" and The 1999 Source Awards. She also signed a solo deal with Suge Knight's Tha Row under the pseudonym, "N.I.N.A."

KRS-One takes aim at Nelly
KRS-One has stepped back into the middle of hip-hop's lyrical battleground to address repeated barbs from
Nelly, whose recent single, "#1," makes a reference to MCs 'whose albums flop' that are 'mad cause I'm hot' and 'mad cause he's not.' KRS is taking those lines personally, and apparently he hasn't changed his stance from 14 years ago, when he dropped "I'm Still #1" on By All Means Necessary. On a track titled "Clear 'Em Out" off the upcoming Official Jointz Recordings compilation, The Difference, KRS answers, "You tired of me saying what's real hip-hop? Well I'm tired of you bitin' my sh-- to go pop." The Blastmaster goes on to knock Nelly's fanbase and his penchant for biting nursery rhymes: "Grow up already, your album appeals to little second graders." A reporter for The 411 Online attempted to elicit a response from Nelly at a concert stop Sunday in Champaign, Ill., but interview requests were denied by his publicity representatives. "I know for a fact that KRS is truly tired of the direction that hip-hop is going," said Charles Graham, Official Jointz president and owner. "Not only is he going after Nelly, but any one of these commercial acts that take offense to his lyrics. The pen is mightier than the sword." The Difference will not arrive in stores until June, but the single is expected to be released later this month.

Ice Cube film opens at No. 3
Ice Cube's latest film, "All About the Benjamins," took in an estimated $10.1 million in its first week to debut at No. 3. "All About the Benjamins," which Cube co-wrote and produced, opened in barely more than half the theaters as the week's No. 1 flick, "The Time Machine," but still managed a strong showing at the box office. The film averaged $6,728 on 1,505 screens, which was not far behind the $7,643 average for "Time Machine," which opened on 2,944 screens. In the movie, Cube plays a Miami bounty hunter who gets caught up in a diamond heist while trying to track down a con man who skipped bail (played by his "Next Friday" co-star, Mike Epps). At least one expert -- Paul Dergarabedian, president of box-office tracking company Exhibitor Relations -- was not surprised by the first-week success of "All About the Benjamins." "These urban comedies have had a pretty good track record," Dergarabedian told the Associated Press. "With Ice Cube, you've got a built-in audience."

Five years without Biggie
Saturday officially marks the five-year anniversary of Notorious B.I.G.'s murder, but the events that led to his death early that morning actually took place the night before. On March 8, 1997, Biggie, Sean "Puffy" Combs and several other members of the Bad Boy extended family attended the Soul Train Awards in Los Angeles, and the entourage eventually landed at the Petersen Automotive Museum downtown for a Vibe magazine afterparty. When Biggie and Puffy left the event early the next morning, they took separate cars. Puffy's vehicle left first, followed by a Chevrolet Suburban with Biggie riding in the front passenger seat. When B.I.G.'s SUV was caught by a red light, a black Chevy Impala pulled up next to it and the driver fired seven shots, hitting Biggie four times. He was pronounced dead shortly after arriving at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Biggie, whose real name was Christopher Wallace, was 24 years old. The shooting occurred just six months after 2Pac was gunned down in Las Vegas. The five-year anniversary of 2Pac's death didn't get much attention because the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks happened only two days earlier, but both events were reenacted late last year by Nas in his video for "Got Ur Self A Gun," which still gets regular play on radio and TV. Neither murder has been solved.

Jay-Z skips Grammys again
Despite being nominated in three categories,
Jay-Z once again decided to pass on attending the Grammy Awards. Jigga's "Izzo (H.O.V.A.)" lost out to Missy Elliott's "Get Ur Freak On," for Rap Solo Performance, while "Change the Game" and The Blueprint fell victim to Outkast's victories in the Rap Performance by a Duo or Group and Best Rap Album categories, respectively. The only hip-hop award worth making the trip for would have been Best Rap Album, because the other three were not televised, something that factored into Jay's decision. Contrary to published reports, Jay-Z first publicly boycotted the Grammys in 1999. "I am boycotting the Grammys because too many major rap artists continue to be overlooked," Jay-Z said in a written statement three years ago. "Rappers deserve more attention from the Grammy committee and from the whole world. If it's got a gun everybody knows about it; but if we go on a world tour, no one knows." Jigga's Vol. 2... Hard Knock Life was picked for Best Rap Album despite his abscence, and earlier this month he talked about what led him to the decision to skip that show. "I didn't think they gave the rightful respect to hip-hop," he told MTV. "It started that they didn't nominate DMX that year. DMX had an incredible album. He didn't get a nomination. I was like, 'Nah, that's crazy.'" In 1989, DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince (now known better as Will Smith) were among the first hip-hop artists to boycott the Grammys. The duo, who won the show's first rap award that year, and three of the other five nominees protested because the honor was not presented on-air. The complete list of hip-hop nominees and winners...

Outkast performs, wins two Grammys
The biggest honors escaped them, but
Outkast still took home two trophies at the 44th annual Grammy Awards, which took place Wednesday night at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Big Boi and Andre, who were nominated for five awards, had to settle for the Best Rap Album and Best Rap Performance By A Duo Or Group awards. "Thanks to the Lord above for letting us be here at the Grammys," Big Boi said as he accepted the Best Rap Album honor. The duo, which also was nominated for Album of the Year, Record of the Year and Best Short Form Music Video, made a quick trip back to the stage after performing "Ms. Jackson," which was the song that won Best Rap Performance By A Duo Or Group. "It's only the beginning," Andre promised. "We're in the studio right now working on our next album." Stankonia was only the second hip-hop album ever nominated for Album of the Year, following Eminem's The Marshall Mathers LP last year. Lil' Kim and her "Lady Marmalade" cohorts walked away with the Best Pop Collaboration honor. Kim, Mya, Pink, Christina Aguilera, Missy Elliott and Patti Labelle had just finished performing the song when the winner was announced. Elliott also won Best Rap Solo Performance for "Get Ur Freak On," but the honor was one of several announced before the show. Eve also was among those whose shining moment did not get televised. Her duet with Gwen Stefani, "Let Me Blow Ya Mind," grabbed one of the new awards -- Best Rap/Sung Collaboration. Kim, Missy and Eve weren't the only hip-hop artists to call attention to a pop collaboration. Nelly took the stage with 'N Sync for a rendition of their hit single, "Girlfriend." Ja Rule presented an award with Jamie Foxx and Pamela Anderson. Foxx, who released an R&B album, Peep This, in 1994, took the opportunity to ask Ja for if he could fill in for Jennifer Lopez or Ashanti for a hook on his next album. "You have to go through a few more people before you get to me," Ja responded. Foxx then turned to Anderson and said, "I've seen your work, too, and I'd really like to do something with you as well." P. Diddy also was a presenter. The complete list of hip-hop nominees and winners...

Jay-Z, R. Kelly battle bootleggers
Jay-Z and R. Kelly haven't even had the chance to put one controversy behind them before another all-too-familiar problem popped up to pose a threat to their upcoming collaboration, The Best of Both Worlds -- bootleggers. Advance copies of the album featuring 11 tracks have hit the streets even though it isn't due to arrive until March 26. According to Roc-A-Fella Records, which is distributing the album domestically while Jive handles overseas promotion, there are no plans to rush The Best of Both Worlds into stores in response to the bootlegging. If that wasn't bad enough, the latest development in the R. Kelly sex tape scandal is that numerous web sites and street vendors are claiming to have copies of the infamous video that was sent to the Chicago Sun-Times earlier this month and are hawking them for a fee. Jay-Z, on the other hand, is proceeding with plans to release another single from his multi-platinum album, The Blueprint. The video for "Song Cry" currently is being shot and the clip and its corresponding track should drop next month.

Run DMC makes history
Run DMC will become the first hip-hop group to have its handprints added to the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Monday. At 11 a.m. PT, Reverend Run, DMC and Jam Master Jay will leave their marks on the sidewalk outside Mann's Chinese Theater on Hollywood Boulevard, following in the footsteps of many movie stars and famous recording artists. The tradition, which symbolizes accomplishment and celebrity status, began in 1927 when actors Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks placed their footprints outside what was then known as Grauman's Chinese Theater. Run DMC's latest release, Crown Royal, dropped in 2001 and did not move major units, but the group's legacy is unparalleled. Their 1984 self-titled debut and 1993's Down With the King both went gold, 1985's King of Rock and 1988's Tougher Than Leather both hit platinum, and the pinnacle of their success, 1986's Raising Hell, reached triple-platinum.

Mr. Cheeks soars to No. 1
After 26 weeks on the charts,
Mr. Cheeks' "Lights, Camera, Action!" suddenly found life at retail outlets and will ride the sales surge all the way to No. 1 on both Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-hop Singles chart and the magazine's Hot Rap Singles chart. The single, which was at No. 6 last week, increased sales more than any other single and bumped Ja Rule's "Always on Time" featuring Ashanti and Method Man and Jonell's "Round and Round" remix from the top spots. However, Ja and Ashanti managed to hold on to the pole position for the second week in a row on Billboard's Hot 100, where Cheeks only managed to hit No. 16. And Ja's second go-round with Jennifer Lopez, "Ain't It Funny," looks ready to take over the throne if they falter, jumping a spot to No. 3 on the pop chart. Ja's top-ranked partner, Ashanti, is making some moves of her own as well. Her collaboration with Fat Joe, "What's Luv," was listed as the fastest growing track on the radio and will rise 13 spots to No. 23 on the Billboard Hot 100 and 10 spots to No. 10 on the Hot R&B/Hip-hop Singles chart. The only other single of note was Busta Rhymes' "Pass the Courvoisier Part II" featuring P. Diddy and The Neptunes' Pharrell Williams, which debuted at No. 85 on Billboard's Hot 100. On the album side, the outlook wasn't as bright for Ja Rule, as Pain Is Love fell out of the top 10 for a second time on the Billboard 200 albums chart. Ludacris remained strong and held on to the No. 6 slot for the second week in a row. Word of Mouf is now the sole hip-hop representative left in the top 10 after several weeks leading a triumvirate that also included Nas' Stillmatic.

Master P saves studio with last-minute deal
Master P reached a settlement late Tuesday that will allow him to maintain ownership of his unfinished recording studio in Baton Rouge, La. P's lawyer, James Holliday, told the Associated Press that the No Limit founder agreed to pay the building's general contractor, Charles Carter Construction, $137,000 for unpaid bills and other costs. "It's a done deal," Holliday said. "The property has several million dollars in it, and that's why it would have been unfortunate if it had been lost for such a paltry sum." The studio was to be auctioned off Wednesday by the East Baton Rouge Parish sheriff's office because Master P was unable to settle debts related to its construction. P announced plans for the $10 million studio in 1997, the year he began moving his company's headquarters northeast from New Orleans to Louisiana's capital. Disputes over contracts kept the studio from being built on time, and it now sits as a shell of a building on an empty lot surrounded by a fence. Master P's lawyers attempted to postpone the auction last week, but a state district judge upheld a $190,165 judgment that was granted to Charles Carter Construction in July as compensation for construction work, materials and equipment. P's latest album, Gameface, was released in December.

'Behind the Music' of Busta Rhymes
Busta Rhymes was the subject of the latest installment of VH-1's "Behind the Music," which premiered on the network Sunday night. "There's never been nobody like him before, and there will be nobody like him after him," P. Diddy said during the show's opening sequence. Through interviews with his influences, former partners, his parents and the man of the hour himself, the show set out to prove just that, following the ups and downs of Busta's life, from his early days with Leaders of the New School and his emergence as a solo artist, actor and entrepreneur, to dropping out of high school, losing his first son (born prematurely) and battling overblown media coverage of gun charges and paternity suits. Most of Busta's life story and musical history is well-known to hip-hop fans, but this brief documentary introduced it to an entirely new audience. Busta discussed his christening by Public Enemy's Chuck D, the tensions between he and fellow L.O.N.S. member Charlie Brown that eventually led to the group's breakup, and the calming influence of Q-Tip and P. Diddy, all of whom are interviewed for the show as well as Dr. Dre, Missy Elliott, Rah Digga and Dinco D. Despite all the struggles that Busta has faced, he said it was all worth it and necessary in order to get him to where he is today. "I feel like I'm in a place where the blessing is starting to truly come into fruition and manifest itself and it's gonna blossom," Busta said. "Because I'm gonna make sure now that I identify with it, that I nourish it the way that I should have a long time ago. The next level of my growth has officially been initiated." "Busta Rhymes: Behind the Music" will air again on Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET, Wednesday at 8 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. ET and Thursday at 2 a.m. ET.

Craig Mack plans comeback
Craig Mack has resurfaced, and the MC that put Bad Boy Records on the map says that he's close to signing a deal that will reunite him with P. Diddy's label. "I'm back working with Puffy, making everything tight," Mack told MTV earlier this week. "I'm getting ready to go in the studio next week, making sure this album and everything is ready." Mack released the first album on Bad Boy Records in 1994. Project: Funk Da World went gold and spawned the platinum-selling single "Flava in Ya Ear." Jennifer Lopez and Ja Rule have put Mack fresh on many people's minds once again by using the same Easy Mo Bee beat from "Flava In Ya Ear" on the remix to "Ain't It Funny." "I think that's beautiful, man," Mack said. "The 'Flava in Ya Ear' checks keep getting bigger and bigger. It's amazing to me how that record's legs have so much strength to them. The record has an endurance that's timeless." Mack's first appearance on a Bad Boy project will be a guest spot alongside Ghostface Killah and Keith Murray on G. Dep's "Special Delivery," which will be released on an upcoming P. Diddy remix album.

Ja Rule rules the charts
Ja Rule's "Always On Time" featuring Ashanti will jump two positions on the Billboard Hot 100 to take the spot it already occupied on the Hot R&B/Hip-hop Singles chart -- No. 1. And as if that wasn't enough, Ja's album, released almost five months ago, will continue to command a spot in the top 10 of the Billboard 200. Pain Is Love will be No. 8 on next week's albums chart, while Ludacris' Word of Mouf will drop to No. 6 and Nas' Stillmatic will fall out of the top 10 to No. 11. And don't discount Ja's influence on next week's No. 1 album, Jennifer Lopez' J To Tha L-O! The Remixes. The man who has become synonymous with the term 'J. Lo remix' has both of his hits with Lopez on the album, "I'm Real" and "Ain't It Funny." The latter is right behind "Always On Time," holding down the No. 4 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 and the No. 7 Hot R&B/Hip-hop Singles chart. Elsewhere, Method Man and Jonell's "Round and Round" remix is No. 1 on Billboard's Hot Rap Singles chart.

Foxy, Juvenile to perform with O.J.
Foxy Brown and Juvenile are among the artists scheduled to perform at the latest hip-hop concert hosted by O.J. Simpson. Simpson, who also has appeared at concerts in Estero, Fla., and East Hartford, Conn., during the past several months, will serve as the master of ceremonies at the March 2 show, which will take place in the Cincinnati neighborhood that was the scene of three days of rioting last April. It will be the first hip-hop concert in more than a decade at the 3,400-seat Music Hall, which is home to the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and Cincinnati Opera.

Fresh Prince gets Oscar nomination
Will Smith doesn't get much play in these pages anymore, but the honor he received Tuesday deserves some props. Just a little over a decade ago, DJ Jazzy Jeff and the artist formerly known as the Fresh Prince were playing high school fieldhouses and charging a can of food for admission, but it was announced Tuesday that Smith was nominated for an Academy Award in the Best Actor category for his title role in "Ali." Seriously, did you ever think you'd see the day when an MC was nominated for an Oscar? "Jada and I were asleep, the phone rang, Jada answered it and it was my publicist telling me the news," Smith told E! "Jada got so excited, she started jumping up and down and hit her head on the door. So I got her some aspirin and then we laughed ourselves silly." It's a significant achievement, and if you don't believe it, just ask one of the actors that Smith is competing against -- Denzel Washington, whose nomination for "Training Day" is only his third nod for Best Actor ("Malcolm X" in 1993 and "The Hurricane" in 2000) and he unfortunately has no Oscars to show for it. (Washington did receive an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in 1989 for his role in "Glory.") Much already has been made of the fact that two black actors have been nominated in the Best Actor category for the first time. With Halle Berry's Best Actress nomination for "Monster's Ball," it also marks the first time since 1972 that three black actors were among the 10 nominated in the top two acting categories. "As blacks have proven we can make money at the box office, proved we can open a movie and take it around the world and be successful, from that standpoint, I think other things will be created from that," Smith told The Associated Press. "That's always been my approach, make as much money as I can at the box office in order to open up the other roles for myself." The 74th annual Academy Awards will be broadcast live on ABC on March 24. The ceremony will take place in Hollywood for the first time since 1960 at the new Kodak Theatre, which is located a block away from the Roosevelt Hotel, the site of the first Academy Awards in 1929.

Nas prepares 18-city tour
Nas will hit the road Feb. 23 in support of the already platinum-selling Stillmatic. "We're gonna be getting to all the towns so people can get a chance to experience Illmatic to Stillmatic, the whole travel right on stage," Nas told MTV. "It's gonna be right." The tour will hit 18 cities over a span of just more than a month. It starts in the Midwest, then travels East and South before wrapping up out West with a show in Las Vegas on March 30. Nas' current single, "Got Ur Self A Gun," is still in regular rotation on radio stations and music video channels, and he also can be heard on the remix to Jagged Edge's "I Got It." Nas begins shooting the video for Stillmatic's next single, "One Mic," later this month.

The complete schedule: 2/23 -- Athens, OH @ Ohio University Convocation Center; 2/24 -- Cleveland, OH @ Agora Theatre; 2/26 -- Columbus, OH @ Newport Music Hall; 2/27 -- Chicago, IL @ House of Blues; 2/28 -- Royal Oak, MI @ Royal Oak Theatre; 3/1 -- Toronto, ON @ Kool Haus; 3/3 -- Boston, MA @ Avalon; 3/5 -- Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club; 3/6 -- Poughkeepsie, NY @ Mid-Hudson Civic Center; 3/7 -- South Amboy, NJ @ Club Krome; 3/8 -- Baltimore, MD @ TBA; 3/15 -- Orlando, FL @ House of Blues; 3/16 -- N. Myrtle Beach, SC @ House of Blues; 3/17 -- Atlanta, GA @ Earthlink Live; 3/18 -- New Orleans, LA @ House of Blues; 3/28 -- Los Angeles, CA @ House of Blues; 3/29 -- San Diego, CA @ 4th and B; 3/30 -- Las Vegas, NV @ House of Blues.

Chicago police investigate R. Kelly
Just as full-scale promotion begins for
Jay-Z and R. Kelly's upcoming full-length collaboration, Kelly finds himself in a position to be singing the chorus of the duo's previous single, "Guilty Until Proven Innocent," all over again. This time, though, with Jigga's legal troubles behind him, the words "not guilty" would be used in Kelly's own defense. Kelly, who performed during the opening ceremonies at the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City on Friday, is being investigated by Chicago police in connection with a videotape that was sent to the Chicago Sun-Times last week. The 26-minute tape allegedly shows Kelly performing various sex acts with an underage girl. Kelly, who is 35, and his attorney both denied the accusations. "It's not true," Kelly told Chicago's WMAQ-TV before his Olympic performance. "All I know is this: I have a few people in the past that I've fired... people that I've thought were my friends that's not my friends. It's crap, and that's how we're going to treat it." The girl in the video is now 17, but an aunt contacted by the newspaper said that she would have been 14 at the time the tape was made. Audio from a television that was on in the room also suggests that the tape was made in late 1998 or early 1999, based on music videos that were introduced as "new" on the channel the TV was tuned to. Kelly apparently is clearly seen in the video because he adjusts the camera angle several times, and he also calls the girl by name. Police have been investigating Kelly's relationship with the girl for three years, but were unable to build a case because everyone involved -- including the girl's parents -- denied that she and Kelly were having sex. With the video in hand, police officials said it is possible that charges will be filed. This is not the first time Kelly has been accused of having relationships with underage girls. He briefly was married to the late Aaliyah when she was 15 and one of his proteges, and he has been sued twice by Chicago women who both claim that he forced them to participate in group sex with other underage girls. Back on the album front, two tracks -- "Take You Home (Body)" and "Get This Money" -- from Kelly and Jay-Z's The Best of Both Worlds were released exclusively on AOL over the weekend. Both will be released to radio stations Tuesday as singles. The album is scheduled to hit stores March 26.

Jay-Z gets 2 Soul Train nominations
Nominees for the 16th annual Soul Train Music Awards were announced Friday at the Paramount Pictures lot in Hollywood.
Jay-Z was nominated in two of the three categories that include rap. The Blueprint will go up against Ja Rule's Pain Is Love, Aaliyah's self-titled album and Alicia Keys' Song In A Minor in the R&B/Soul or Rap Album of the Year category, while Jigga's "Girls, Girls, Girls" will take on Missy Elliott's "Get Ur Freak On," Busta Rhymes' "Break Ya Neck" and the Isley Brothers' "Contagious" in the R&B/Soul or Rap Music Video of the Year category. The only other hip-hop nominees are Fabolous' "Young'n (Holla Back)" and Bubba Sparxxx' "Ugly" in the R&B/Soul or Rap Best New Artist category, which also includes Alicia Keys and India.Arie. The ceremony will take place March 20 at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena.

P. Diddy opens trading on NYSE
Sean "P. Diddy" Combs rang the the opening bell Thursday at the New York Stock Exchange. P. Diddy, who was there representing his Sean John clothing line, was joined by NYSE chairman Richard Grasso and Federated Department Stores president Terry Lundgren. Afterward, Puffy walked the floor and signed autographs for traders. At first it looked as if the Bad Boy Entertainment CEO might be a good luck charm for the stock exchange as trading was up for the first time in four days, but ultimately the Dow fell for a fifth straight session. It was the latest in a string of high profile appearances for Diddy, who has also
hosted the American Music Awards and filled in for Regis Philbin on "Live with Regis & Kelly" in recent weeks, which is amazing considering where he was less than a year ago -- in the middle of one of the most publicized trials of 2001. Puff Daddy was acquitted last March of weapons possession and bribery charges in connection with a December 1999 shooting at a New York nightclub.

Nelly honored by state of Missouri
Nelly was honored Tuesday by Gov. Bob Holden and the Missouri House of Representatives for his efforts to improve participation in standardized tests by high school students in the state. Nelly and the St. Lunatics have promised to play basketball against any high school that increases the number of students that take the tests. While the appearance at the Capitol caused quite a buzz and led the Missouri State Highway Patrol to send almost 30 troopers for crowd control, not everyone in the House was in support of the gesture. One state representative printed out copies of Nelly's lyrics that he found on the Internet and distributed them in protest. "Here we are honoring a man for his contribution to the education of our kids, but if you read his lyrics he is talking about promiscuous sex, crystal meth, snorting cocaine. These are the kinds of things you want your kids to hear?" Rep. Charles Portwood said, according to the Associated Press. "If it demeans our society, it's wrong." However, Nelly brushed off the criticism. "Hip-hop has run into a lot of resistance, period," he said. "We are the voice of the youth. Any time you are the voice of the youth, you run into resistance."

Top 9 albums stay put
The top 9 albums on the Billboard 200 will not change for next week's chart, meaning that
Ludacris, Ja Rule and Nas will stay put. Ludacris' Word of Mouf sold 86,000 copies to remain the leader among hip-hop albums at No. 4. Ja Rule's Pain Is Love moved 68,000 units to hold at No. 6, while Nas' Stillmatic was right behind it at No. 7 with 66,000 copies sold. The lone new entry in next week's top 10 will be a repackaged version of Mary J. Blige's No More Drama. The soundtrack to Beanie Sigel and Jay-Z's new movie, "State Property," will be next week's highest debut, selling 52,000 copies to check in at No. 14.

Nelly will perform at Grammys
No matter who wins the hip-hop awards later this month at the Grammy Awards,
Nelly will be taking the stage. The St. Lunatic has been added to the list of performers at the 44th annual tribute to music, which will take place Feb. 27 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Nelly's "Ride Wit Me" will compete against Jay-Z's "Izzo (H.O.V.A.)," DMX's "Who We Be," Missy Elliott's "Get Ur Freak On" and Afroman's "Because I Got High" in the Rap Solo Performance category at the show. The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences announced last month that Outkast was nominated for five Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year, Record of the Year and Best Rap Album. The complete list of hip-hop nominees...

Hip-hop, NBA share All-Star Weekend
If Super Bowl weekend didn't provide enough entertainment to suit you, then maybe the NBA All-Star Game in Philadelphia this weekend will. The Super Bowl had its share of all-star performers and a game that exceeded all expectations when the New England Patriots upset the St. Louis Rams, but the NBA's midseason classic has always been about the show. This year will be no exception, as
Naughty By Nature, Warren G, Ludacris, Public Enemy, Ja Rule, Run DMC, P. Diddy, Fabolous, Lil' Bow Wow, Fat Joe, Master P, Silkk the Shocker, Missy Elliott, Tank, Doug E. Fresh, Slick Rick, Biz Markie, DJ Jazzy Jeff, Mr. Cheeks, The Roots, Big Daddy Kane, EPMD, MC Lyte, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony and Rakim are among those slated to be a part of various events during All-Star Weekend. Naughty By Nature and Fat Joe will get an early jump on the festivities with a Thursday performance at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, host of the "NBA Jam Session" that also will feature appearances by Warren G and Fabolous in the section of the venue being dubbed "Club NBA." Run DMC will perform Friday at a celebrity auction sponsored by the Philadelphia chapter of Inner-City Games while Master P, Silkk the Shocker, Missy Elliott, Ludacris and Tank play in the "Hoop Magic Celebrity Basketball Game" at the Liacouras Center, which will host Fabolous, Ja Rule and Biz Markie at the NBA Players Association's All-Star Gala later that night while Bone reunites across the way at TLA. Then on Saturday, P. Diddy and Lil' Bow Wow will participate in "The NBA All-Star Read to Achieve Celebration," which will be broadcast simultaneously on NBC, TNT, Nickelodeon, BET and TV at 11:00 a.m. ET. After the All-Star Game takes place on Sunday, a who's who of "Old School All-Stars," including Public Enemy, Rakim, Doug E. Fresh, Slick Rick, Big Daddy Kane, Biz Markie, EPMD, DJ Jazzy Jeff, MC Lyte and Run DMC, will descend upon the Electric Factory, a venue that also will play host to performances by Biz Markie, DJ Jazzy Jeff, Ludacris and Mr. Cheeks on Thursday and The Roots on Friday. Finally, Naughty By Nature follows in De La Soul's footsteps by closing out All-Star Weekend on Sunday night with a return engagement at Club NBA inside the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

More news on Ludacris, Nas and Gang Starr...

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