For The Record: Quick News On Jay-Z, Chingy, 50 Cent, Good Charlotte, Smashing Pumpkins, Twista & More

With his song “Dirt Off Your Shoulder” already getting airplay on urban radio, Jay-Z is setting his sights on rock fans, too. Next week he’ll release the Rick Rubin-produced song “99 Problems” to rock radio stations with the hope they’ll play the guitar-and-drums-driven cut. An accompanying black-and-white video was shot in Brooklyn, New York, last week. …

Ludacris and Chingy‘s Disturbing Tha Peace concert lived up to its name Monday night in Rapid City, South Dakota, as 14 people were arrested during and after the show. “A majority of the concert attendees were well-behaved, but some acted out their aggression in a violent manner,” the police chief told The Rapid City Journal, though he also noted most of the infractions were for alcohol or drugs. With approximately 6,000 people in attendance at the show, the ratio of attendees to arrests was about on par with an average big-city sporting event. … 50 Cent is eyeing July 4 for the follow-up to Get Rich or Die Tryin’. “I’m gon’ stick to the script,” he said recently. “What works, works, so I’m gon’ do what I do, but I’m in a different position, so I got a lot of different things to write about.” …

Mary J. Blige recently shot the video for her next single, the P. Diddy-produced “It’s a Wrap.” “I co-directed it,” she said. “It’s my first one.” … Michelle Branch is fighting for the rights of the innocent. The singer/guitarist is playing a benefit concert April 1 in New York to raise funds for the Innocence Project, a not-for-profit legal clinic which assists prisoners who can be proven not guilty through DNA testing. Tickets go on sale March 1. …

Billy Corgan recently took to his Web site (www.billycorgan.com) to reveal the reason the Smashing Pumpkins parted more than three years ago. “The truth of the matter is that James Iha broke up the Smashing Pumpkins. Not me, not Jimmy [Chamberlin], but James. Did it help that D’Arcy was fired for being a mean-spirited drug addict, who refused to get help? No, that didn’t help keep the band together, not at all,” he wrote. “Many friends at the time suggested letting James leave, so Jimmy and I could continue on under the name. But I was too loyal to the man I had started the whole thing with, and so I protected him until the very end.” … Members of Good Charlotte, the Used, Story of the Year, A Static Lullaby and Hazen Street are among the bands lending efforts for the Concert for Compassion, a benefit set for March 28 at the Oak Canyon Ranch in Irvine, California. Proceeds from the event will benefit Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty, an organization dedicated to stop product-testing on animals. …

Twista has launched a line of diamond-studded rims called Kamikazes, in honor of his recent #1 album of the same name. He also recently collaborated with Elephant Man and is helping fellow Speedknot Mobstaz member Liffy Stokes finish his solo album. … Memphis Bleek is taking a cue from Jay-Z. The Memph Man has enlisted one of The Black Album‘s producers, 9th Wonder, to produce the bulk of his next LP. Bleek says he hopes to have the project in stores by June. …

Weezer singer Rivers Cuomo recently joined former bassist Matt Sharp onstage, apparently marking the end of a long legal and personal feud. Sharp was performing solo on the CSU Fullerton campus when Cuomo sat in for four songs, including “Say It Ain’t So,” “Undone (The Sweater Song)” and a new collaboration between the two. … Sebadoh are launching their first tour in five years, starting in St. Louis on April 19. Frontman Lou Barlow said in a statement that the show will feature “Jake Loewenstein and me with some simple non-electronic percussion we recorded on my trusty Tascam Porta-One cassette four-track. … We strip the songs down but I’d like to think it still ‘rocks.’ ” Barlow said he had “no plans for another Sebadoh record but who knows? I don’t.” The 16-date trek wraps May 8 in Nashville. …

More than a month of new dates have been added to the SnoCore Tour, which features Trapt, Smile Empty Soul, Finger Eleven and Strata. The trek, which launches March 4 in Washington, D.C., now runs through May 21 in Los Angeles. … Smile Empty Soul, meanwhile, shot a video for their next single, “Silhouettes,” last week in Los Angeles. Marc Webb (Good Charlotte, Green Day) directed the clip. … Sixpence None the Richer, best known for the smash single “Kiss Me,” are breaking up after 10 years together. In a letter to CCM magazine, founding guitarist Matt Slocum said the group will release one more album and support it with a final tour as a thank-you to fans. …

Producers the Matrix (Avril Lavigne, Hilary Duff) have recruited singer/songwriters A.K.A. and Katy Perry to join the collective for an album, due in the summer, and subsequent tour. Both the London-born A.K.A., who is signed to Clive Davis‘ J Records, and Perry, a protégé of producer Glen Ballard, will continue to work on solo albums. … Pearl Jam bassist Jeff Ament is training to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro from February 29 to March 14. Ament will travel to Tanzania and ascend the mountain for the fund-raiser Climb for the Children 2004, an activity coordinated by the charity Save the Children. Fans can sponsor Ament at http://savethechildren.org …

Little Steven Van Zandt, guitarist of the E Street Band and host of the syndicated “Little Steven’s Underground Garage,” is launching another radio venture. “Come Memorial Day I’m gonna launch a 24/7 channel on satellite radio,” he said. “It won’t be me, but the format [will be] playing all 50 years of rock and roll, and emphasizing all these new bands.” Van Zandt is also working on converting his radio show to a TV series, which would be his second. He of course also stars in “The Sopranos.” “I think it’s gonna be one of our best years,” he said of the show. “Actually, Frankie Valli from the Four Seasons is doing a couple of shows. It’s great.” … If you ever thought your band was bigger than the garage from whence it originated, sign up to match chops and licks in the Underground Garage Battle of the Bands, a competition organized by Van Zandt. Submissions are being accepted and regional, 20-band face-offs will be held in cities nationwide beginning in mid-April. More details are available at www.rockingarage.com. …

02.24.2004

Want to spend some quality time with Britney Spears? She’s auctioning it off, with the proceeds going to charity. Fans can bid on StubHub.com for premium seats for her upcoming tour, an autographed picture of the singer, and a meeting and private performance at her final full rehearsal on March 1 (her tour launches March 2 in San Diego). Proceeds go to the Britney Spears Foundation. …

At this rate, Bill O’Reilly will never get an invitation to attend The Source Awards. The controversial talk-show host, who once criticized Pepsi for its affiliation with Ludacris, has struck another chord, or should we say sour note, with a member of the hip-hop community. After Lil’ Kim caught wind that O’Reilly blasted Old Navy for using her as a spokesperson, she responded Tuesday (February 24) with a statement that said, “I was completely blindsided by Mr. O’Reilly’s derogatory comments against me. It shows the world that contrary to popular beliefs, Neanderthals are not entirely extinct.” The Queen Bee went on to accuse O’Reilly of having a “vendetta” against black music. … Janet Jackson is no longer slated to play Lena Horne in an ABC biopic. After the singer’s Super Bowl halftime flash, Horne demanded that Jackson be disinvited from playing her, causing Jackson and the movie’s executive producers to pull out of the project, which had been green-lit last fall. Jackson was recently photographed in Vanity Fair portraying Horne, and was to serve as an executive producer as well as record her own versions of Horne’s songs for the film, scheduled for May. The project now remains in limbo, according to an ABC spokesperson. …

More than two months before the new Slipknot album drops, fans can hear new track “Don’t Get Close” in “MTX: Mototrax,” a freestyle motocross video game due March 3 for the PS2 and Xbox consoles. A code to uncover Slipknot’s hidden characters will be included in the band’s third album, to be released May 25. Joining Slipknot on the game’s soundtrack will be the Distillers, Disturbed, AFI, Jet, Metallica and the Stooges. … Eminem is suing Apple Computers, MTV and advertising agency TVWA/Chiat/Day for copyright infringement, claiming an ad for Apple’s iTunes music store, which ran on MTV last year, featured a young boy listening to his iPod singing lyrics to Eminem’s hit song “Lose Yourself” without the rapper’s consent. The suit comes via Eminem’s music publishing company, Eight Mile Style, and was filed in U.S. District Court in Detroit. It alleges Eminem could earn up to $10 million for an endorsement deal; his publishers are seeking unspecified damages. …

Danger Mouse, the man behind The Grey Album, said the Grey Tuesday online movement happening on Tuesday is “flattering.” Fans of the creation, which clashes the BeatlesThe White Album with Jay-Z‘s The Black Album, were asked by the Web site downhillbattle.org to make it available on several sites and P2P networks to protest a cease-and-desist order issued to Danger Mouse by EMI, copyright holders of the Beatles’ music. Although downhillbattle.org, which received a legal warning of its own on Monday for making the album available, positioned the protest as a way to underline how major labels stifle creativity by limiting or restricting sampling, Danger Mouse said The Grey Album was “not meant to be anything but an artistic expression, and I still hope that that’s the way it’s perceived.” … Eleven of the 12 dates of the upcoming Pixies tour sold out in a matter of minutes when tickets went on sale this past weekend. Tickets for the 12th show, to be held April 28 on the campus of UC Davis in California, go on sale Monday. …

Auditions to dance for Madonna on her upcoming tour continue on Wednesday, this time in Los Angeles, according to an open casting call for dancers. In addition to previous instructions, dancers are asked to be available from March 8 through September 15, with valid passport and work visas. In the meantime, Madonna’s next children’s book will actually be “Lotsa de Casha” instead of “Yakov and the Seven Thieves,” according to her Web site. “Lotsa,” now available for pre-order on Amazon.com, is out in stores in June, while “Yakov” has been pushed back to October. … The Wu-Tang Clan‘s RZA will score the upcoming flick “Blade: Trinity,” the third installment in the Wesley Snipes-as-vampire-hunter series. Jazz trumpeter Terence Blanchard will also score tracks for the film. …

Michael Jackson won’t have to appear at a pretrial motions hearing on March 5, since he filed a waiver with the court last week. Both the prosecution and the defense continue to argue about parameters of possible exceptions to the court-ordered gag order, according to motions filed Friday and Monday. Meanwhile, the singer and his ex-wife Debbie Rowe, who is the mother of two of his children, agreed to hire a retired judge to handle a “family law matter” as part of an alternative dispute resolution, according to a court order filed Friday. The private judge’s rulings can be as binding as if made in a regular family court, but remain private. In a related matter, a judge rescheduled a custody hearing Tuesday for the father of Jackson’s alleged victim, since the mother failed to appear due to medical problems. The new hearing is scheduled for April 9. … Rush guitarist Alex Lifeson‘s arraignment has been postponed by the Florida state attorney’s office for the third time, while the office decides exactly what to charge him with. The arraignment is now scheduled for March 8. Lifeson faces charges for six counts, including aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer, resisting an officer with violence and disorderly intoxication, stemming from a New Year’s incident in which he and his son Justin got into a fight with police after Justin was evicted from a Naples, Florida, Ritz-Carlton for refusing to leave the restaurant’s stage while another group was performing. Justin’s wife has been charged with a misdemeanor count of resisting arrest without violence. …

Seattle alternative label Up Records is celebrating its 10th anniversary this week with benefit shows at clubs around the city. Artists performing include Built to Spill, Caustic Resin, Modest Mouse, Quasi and more. … Were Gene Simmons‘ ears ringing when he titled his first solo album in 26 years ***hole? The Kiss bassist’s second album is set for release April 20, while the title track first single is expected to surface at radio a week prior. The 13-track album features appearances from Jane’s Addiction guitarist Dave Navarro, former Kiss members Bruce Kulick and Eric Singer, longtime girlfriend Shannon Tweed, and Bag, a group signed to Simmons Records. Simmons’ self-titled debut was released in 1978 in conjunction with solo albums by other original Kiss members. …