Nelly, P. Diddy To Honor Jam Master Jay At Billboard Awards

Nas, Steven Tyler, Joe Perry will also salute late DJ at December 9 ceremony.

Run-DMC were the first rap group to crack the top 10 of Billboard‘s pop albums chart, so it’s fitting the trade magazine will honor them and the late Jam Master Jay at its awards ceremony next week.

Rappers Nelly, P. Diddy and Nas will participate in the tribute, along with Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler and Joe Perry, who appeared on that landmark Run-DMC album, Raising Hell. More artists will also be added.

Billboard‘s December 9 salute will come just five days after Kid Rock, Chuck D and Grandmaster Flash honor Jam Master Jay at the VH1 Big in 2002 Awards (see “Jam Master Jay To Be Honored By Kid Rock, Chuck D At VH1 Awards” ).

Jason “Jay” Mizell, considered by many to be the most influential DJ in hip-hop history, was shot to death in his Queens recording studio on October 30 (see “Jam Master Jay, Run-DMC DJ, Killed In Shooting” ).

Cedric “The Entertainer” will host, and Justin Timberlake, Avril Lavigne, Creed, Puddle of Mudd and Faith Hill will perform at the 2002 Billboard Music Awards, which will be broadcast live on Fox from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.

Nelly leads the list of finalists with recognition in 10 categories, followed by Ashanti with nine, including her contributions to singles by Ja Rule and Fat Joe.

St. Louis’ “#1″ rapper will compete for Male Artist, R&B/Hip-hop Male Artist and Rap Artist of the Year; Album and R&B/Hip-hop Album of the Year for Nellyville; Hot 100 and Rap Single of the Year for “Hot in Herre” and “Dilemma”; and R&B/Hip-hop Single of the Year for “Hot in Herre.”

Puddle of Mudd are finalists in five categories, followed by Eminem and Alan Jackson in four and Ja Rule, Ludacris, Usher, Creed, Nickelback and Garth Brooks in three. Finalists are based on sales and radio airplay figures tallied by Billboard.

Cher will receive the Artist Achievement Award, and Annie Lennox will be given the Billboard Century Award at the ceremony.

For full coverage of the Jam Master Jay slaying, see the Jam Master Jay Reports.