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Tommy Boy absorbs Penalty
Due at least in part to lower-than-expected sales of Noreaga's latest offering, Tommy Boy Records is absorbing hip-hop subsidary Penalty Recordings. The entire Penalty roster will be retained, which also included Nore's partner Capone and Lord Finesse. The marketing and A&R departments were also spared, but everyone else was released. "They felt that the results were not good enough for the money they spent on Noreaga," a source told Launch. "So, they are letting everyone go. They had marketing budgets of over $2 million and Noreaga has not sold nearly enough records to recoup that as of now." Of course not all of the blame can be put on Nore, especially if they were counting on people to buy both album covers like their "cop 'em both" ads suggested.

Raptors invite Master P to camp
According to MTV, Master P is getting a second shot at the NBA. After being cut by the Charlotte Hornets the week befor the strike-shortened 1999 season began, Master P has been invited to the Toronto Raptors' training camp as part of a summer contract he recently signed with the NBA team. While terms of the contract were not disclosed, Raptors' media spokesman Dave Haggith told MTV News that P signed the contract on Monday, and the financial provisions would only kick in if he made the team. Miller's involvement with the Raptors apparently began a few months after he was cut by the Hornets. Haggith said that Master P was brought in for a workout with some of the Raptors' assistant coaches in the middle of last season. The Raptors' training camp officially opens on Oct. 5, and Master P is expected to appear at the team's media day event on Oct. 4.

Rakim immortalized
Rakim has donated the jacket he wore on the album cover of 1988's Follow The Leader to the Rock N' Roll Hall Of Fame's "Roots, Rhymes & Rage: The Hip-Hop Story" exhibit, which opens on Nov. 11. The R is also hard at work on his next solo release, The Master, which is being produced by DJ Premier and Clark Kent and will feature an appearance from Lauryn Hill. Four or five tracks from the upcoming album were leaked to the internet, but there was no word on whether those songs will appear on the album.

Meth & Red gear up
Def Jam has released more information about the eagerly awaited album from Redman and Method Man. The album, called Blackout! is due Sept. 28 and will feature 16 new tracks, plus the previously released songs "How High," "Well Allritecha" (from Redman's latest album), and "Big Dogs" (from Method Man's latest). The first single is "Tear It Off," which was produced by Erick Sermon and RZA and is also featured on the soundtrack to "In Too Deep." Redman and Method Man will be promoting the album on the Family Values Tour, which will feature DMX, Limp Bizkit and Crystal Method.

Eminem gets angrier
As if a descriptive tale of hauling the mother of your child in the trunk of a car and dumping her body in a lake wasn't bad enough, Eminem told MTV News that he plans to get "angrier" on his next album. Eminem reportedly has completed six tracks for the new record, which he apparently plans to complete in the next month before returning to Europe in late October for a three-week tour. While details about the follow-up to Slim Shady remain up in the air, Eminem said that producer Dr. Dre has been even more involved with the new album, which Em predicts will be even more extreme than Slim Shady. "I would say if anything, it's a little more angrier, if that makes sense," Eminem told MTV News. "'Cause now that I've got money or whatever, it still doesn't mean that I can't be mad. I would say it's going in the direction of just backlashing critics and people who criticize me for my lyrics and the subjects that I rap about, but they don't live my life." And rest assured that Dre will be more involved this time around. "Dre, so far, has been a lot more involved with this new album," Eminem said, "and he's got a lot more tracks on this album as opposed to the three he did on [Slim Shady]. But it's pretty much the same team, and if Dre is not doing my stuff, then I'll work with my own production company." Of course, with Dre on the scene that could mean we won't see the album for at least two or three years.

Kurtis blows off tour
According to the Electronic Urban Report, Kurtis Blow has been bounced from the 20th Anniversary Fresh Fest Tour due to an incident at the first show in Berkley, Calif. Apparently, Kurtis showed up very late for the date after his flight from Cleveland was delayed. He was only allowed to take the stage because the crowd demanded he perform even though the lights had gone on and the equipment was being removed from the stage. After doing only "The Breaks," the promoters informed him that he wasn't going to get paid because his performance forced the venue to go over time. Things got ugly and a police officer wound up dragging Kurtis away.

PE launches U.S. tour
Soon you'll be able to hear more from Chuck D than just that "Pollywanacraka" sample on those strange new Target commercials. Public Enemy will be hitting the road in October in support of their critically acclaimed album, There's A Poison Goin' On, which earlier this year beacame the first major hip-hop album released online. The tour kicks off Oct. 3 in Minneapolis and travels through the Midwest to Milwaukee, Chicago and Detroit before heading to the east coast. After a trip down south, the tour heads west and concludes Oct. 23 in Salem, Ore. The complete schedule: Oct. 3 - Minneapolis, Minn. @ First Avenue; Oct. 5 - Milwaukee, Wis. @ Rave; Oct. 6 - Chicago, Ill. @ House of Blues; Oct. 7 - Detroit, Mich. @ The Majestic; Oct. 8 - Pittsburgh, Pa. @ TBA; Oct. 9 - Philadelphia, Pa. @ Mann Music Center; Oct. 10 - Washington, D.C. @ The Nation; Oct. 12 - Myrtle Beach, S.C. @ House of Blues; Oct. 14 - New Orleans, La. @ House of Blues; Oct. 15 - Austin, Texas @ Stubb's; Oct. 17 - Denver, Colo. @ Gothic Theatre; Oct. 19 - Los Angeles, Calif. @ House of Blues; Oct. 20 - Solana Beach, Calif. @ Belly Up Tavern; Oct. 21 - San Francisco, Calif. @ Maritime Hall; Oct. 23 - Salem, Ore. @ Salem Armory.

Pour out a little liquor
Three years ago, on Sept. 13, 1996, 2Pac died in Las Vegas, six days after being shot three times in a drive-by shooting while riding in the passenger seat of a car driven by Death Row Records CEO Suge Knight. An air of disbelief still surrounds his death -- maybe because he had been shot five times in an earlier incident and lived, or maybe because early reports said he would pull through, or maybe because the eerie coincidences and fulfilled prophecies that lace the seemingly endless posthumous albums of the self-proclaimed "Makaveli" suggest he could have faked his own death. But chances are it's just wishful thinking that he's still alive. And as time goes on, reality sets in, and you realize that 2Pac truly is gone, and that the void he left will never be filled. Later this month, The 411 Online will launch a tribute section that will pay respect to all of hip-hop's fallen heroes. 2Pac will be the first artist featured.

Jay-Z gets his props
Apparently MTV figured out what it takes to get Jay-Z to show up for a party. After skipping out on both the Grammys and Source Awards, Jay-Z not only appeared at the MTV Video Music Awards, but performed as well. Afeni Shakur and Voletta Wallace presented Jigga with the award for best rap video for "Can I Get A..." Lauryn Hill took home four awards, Will Smith's "Miami" won best male video, Eminem was named best new artist and the Beastie Boys' "Intergalactic" beat out Busta and Janet, Lauryn Hill and TLC for best hip-hop video. (MTV has redefined hip-hop as rap influenced by rock, R&B or some other form of music -- what?!) Other hip-hop highlights included Dre, Snoop and Eminem bringing back "Nuthin' But a G Thang" and Run DMC's performance with Kid Rock and Aerosmith.

Busta gets probation
Busta Rhymes was sentenced to five years probation in Manhattan Supreme Court for possession of a loaded, unregistered .45-caliber automatic handgun. He was facing up to seven years in prison for the charge, which he pleaded guilty to in May. Police spotted the weapon after pulling over Busta and his manager for erratic driving. He will begin serving his sentence in a year.

Big Lez leaves 'Rap City'
As you might have suspected from all those "New Music Hosts" commercials airing on BET, starting Sept. 13 there will be some changes at the network. Most notably, Leslie "Big Lez" Segar will not be returning to "Rap City" because of a dispute over money. She also has been relieved of her duties at 92.3 The Beat in L.A. to make way for a number of new deejays.

Tell 'em why you're mad, Puff
According to the Associated Press, Bad Boy Records CEO Sean "Puffy" Combs was ordered Wednesday to undergo a day of anger management counseling after pleading guilty to harassing a record company executive. Puff Daddy and another man were arrested in April on charges of assaulting Steven Stoute, who suffered a broken arm, a broken jaw and cuts to his head after being hit with a chair and a champagne bottle. Initially, Puff was charged with second-degree assault and faced up to seven years in prison, but Stoute backed off the charges and he was allowed to plead guilty to the lesser charge of harassment. Puffy was upset that Stoute let MTV air Nas' "Hate Me Now" video with a scene that showed Nas and Puff nailed to a cross.

ODB appears in court
If getting your name in the news truly helps boost album sales, then ODB's latest should go platinum in its first week. Ol' Dirty appeared in a Los Angeles court on Friday in an effort to get charges dismissed in the case accusing him of illegally wearing a bulletproof vest. It was the first of several court appearances scheduled for ODB in September. The L.A. case will continue on Sept. 17, and he faces drug possession charges in New York on Sept. 9. His second album drops Sept. 14.

A warrant had been issued for the rapper's arrest Aug. 12 in L.A. when he failed to appear in court. ODB's lawyer, Robert Shapiro, could not be reached for comment but is expected to argue for a dismissal when ODB returns to L.A. ODB is thought to be the first person arrested under the recent California law that prohibits convicted violent felons from wearing body armor. The law applies to him because he was convicted of second-degree assault in New York in 1993.

X-Clan reunites
"This is protected..." If you don't know the rest you soon will as hip-hop pioneers Grand Verbalizer Brother J, Professor X the Overseer and Paradise the Architect have reunited for an X-Clan album they hope to release before the end of the year. The group debuted in 1990 with a classic album, To the East, Blackwards, that echoed the conciousness of Public Enemy and KRS-One and was ahead of its time with its Parliament-Funkadelic samples. The new album, X-Clan 2000, will feature the group's trademark political edge, but the group will also tackle the commercialization of hip-hop.

Run DMC headline Fresh Fest
Run DMC will help celebrate the first two decades of hip-hop as the headline act of the 20th Anniversary Fresh Fest, a seven-city old-school rap tour featuring the Sugar Hill Gang, Grandmaster Melle Mel, Kurtis Blow, and Whodini. The tour kicks off on the West Coast before hitting New York on Sept. 30.

Puff debuts at No. 2
Apparently, Puff Daddy hasn't completely gone pop after all. Despite a tremendous amount of promotion, a guest appearance on almost every track and a first single with old school, rock and Spanish versions, Puffy's second album, Forever, still didn't have enough mass appeal to overcome America's newest teen sensation, Christina Aguilera, for the top slot on the pop charts. The "Genie in a Bottle" outsold Puff 253,000 to 205,000 to earn top honors. Rumor has it Puffy is lining up the Backstreet Boys for his next album.

Hard Knock Life tour returns
Roc-A-Fella Records is giving everyone a chance to relive the record-breaking hip-hop event of 1999 with "Backstage Live: A Hard Knock Life," a documentary and concert video due in stores on Oct. 19. The release will feature an inside look at the performances of Jay-Z, DMX, Redman and Method Man as they toured the country in the highest-grossing hip-hop tour of all time.

Busta issues a challenge
Busta Rhymes, who made it a point to mention all the positive things going on in hip-hop and his life when some of the media started to turn sour on him at this year's
Source Awards, has added another good deed to the list. Busta is leading the effort to help Sam Sneed, the producer diagnosed with a brain tumor recently. Busta has donated $10,000 toward Sneed's seven-week treatment and is challenging other artists to match it. A benefit show featuring Busta, Goodie Mob, Scarface, Eightball, the Youngbloodz and Twista is also in the works.

Best known for his work with Death Row, Sneed, whose real last name is Anderson, is without medical insurance and cannot afford proper treatment. His family is asking fans for support and have opened a fund to help pay for his medications. Donations may be sent to: Sam Anderson Fund, Three Rivers Bank c/o Laura Walker, P.O. Box 3045, McKeesport, PA 15134-3045.

Eve: Ladies first
The Ruff Ryders' Eve is making a name for herself in the male-dominated rap game, mixing street knowledge with just the right amount of sex appeal and coming up with a No. 1 hit on the Billboard rap singles chart. But fans expecting more of "What Ya Want" on her upcoming album might be in for a surprise. In a recent interview with the Los Angeles Times, Eve revealed that she's created an album strictly for the ladies. "This is a girl's album," she told the Times. "Guys are gonna hate me after this album. Most of the songs are about guys and what we go through with them." The first single, "Gotta Man," is right up that alley, but never fear, fellas, because there will be plenty of hardcore lyrics from guests like DMX and Drag-On to balance things out.
Click here to check out the whole interview at the LA Times web site

Mase goes back to school
First Mase retired. Now he's going after his Ph.D? Well, not quite, but the former Bad Boy who coined the phrase "playa-hatin' degree" is enrolled at Clark Atlanta University this semester. The 20-year-old, whose decision to follow the Lord led him to leave hip-hop behind, is majoring in business. "He fits right in and acts just like any other student," Getchel Caldwell, a school representative, told the Associated Press. "Hes not signing autographs. Hes very serious about his education." He might not be living the life of a superstar anymore, but he does get a couple more perks than the average freshman: off-campus housing and special parking privileges.

Back together again
Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre will be reuniting in Hawaii for a three-day event billed "The Concert on Chronic Island," which will take place the weekend of Sept 24-26. The weekend will kick off with a luau on Friday evening and conclude with a live performance on the Hawaiian island of Oahu on Sunday. The duo also will get together on wax. Snoop will make a guest appearance on Dre's highly anticipated The Chronic 2001 album and Dre will produce several cuts on Snoopafly, Snoop's next album.

Sam Sneed fights tumor
Former Death Row producer Sam Sneed has been diagnosed with a brain tumor. Sneed, who had a single of his own on the Murder was the Case soundtrack, "U Better Recognize," is best known for his work behind the boards. Sneed co-produced Dr. Dre's "Keep Their Heads Ringin'" and has worked with Snoop Dogg, K-Solo and Capone & Noreaga. Sneed went to the hospital after complaining of migraine headaches. Because he is without medical insurance and cannot afford proper treatment, benefit concerts featuring KRS-One, Scarface and Eightball are being planned. Sneed, whose real last name is Anderson, and his family are asking fans for support and have opened a fund to help pay for his medications. Donations may be sent to: Sam Anderson Fund, Three Rivers Bank c/o Laura Walker, P.O. Box 3045, McKeesport, PA 15134-3045.

The Lox leave Bad Boy
It's official. Bad Boy CEO Sean "Puffy" Combs has released The Lox from their recording contract, clearing the way for the trio to join fellow Yonkers native DMX and his Ruff Ryders crew. The Lox, who've appeared on a number of Ruff Ryders records, had expressed their desire to leave Bad Boy for quite some time, performing at a New York radio summer jam concert in June wearing "Let The Lox Go" t-shirts. "The Lox situation, it's just didn't work out," Puffy told MTV News. "That's nothing new to any record company. Hopefully the press won't try to dramatize that. Any record label and you have twenty acts, one, two, three of the acts aren't going to be happy. And it may be a situation that you can work out. We tried to work the situation out; it didn't work out. So we're in the process of selling them right now. And they are still to me some of the hottest rappers out. I wish them the best of luck. I'm sorry it didn't work out." The Lox are expected to sign with Interscope Records, the company that distributes the various Ruff Ryders projects.

Martin in critical condition
Don't be fooled by Martin Lawrence's recent appearances on MTV. A representative for the "Blue Streak" star has revealed that the actor is in critical condition in an L.A. area hospital, having recently emerged from a three-day coma. The comedian collapsed while jogging on Sunday. Lawrence, in an attempt to lose weight for a movie role, had put on several layers of clothing to sweat off the pounds before walking out into the sweltering summer heat, and he subsequently suffered heat stroke. When he arrived at the Los Robles Medical Center in Thousand Oaks, California, Lawrence had a 107 degree body temperature.

Warren G reunites with 213
Warren G's first album since 1997's Take A Look Over Your Shoulder will feature a reunion with Snoop Dogg and Nate Dogg, his former partners from the pre-Chronic days of 213. Slick Rick, Jermaine Dupri, Eve and Drag-On are also expected to appear on the disc, which will be Warren's third. The album, titled, I Want It All is due to hit stores in October.

More news on Mariah Carey and Jay-Z, Luther Campbell and ODB

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