Rapper Busta Rhymes pleaded guilty Wednesday (May 5) to criminal possession of a weapon in a plea bargain that will result in a sentence of five years' probation, according to his lawyer and a spokesperson for the New York County district attorney.
A day earlier, Rhymes announced he was dropping out of R&B star R. Kelly's arena tour -- which starts Thursday in Philadelphia and also includes rappers Nas and Foxy Brown -- and will instead headline his own tour this summer. A spokesperson for Rhymes' management company said he quit the tour because its promoter did not meet "a certain standard of professionalism."
The guilty plea stemmed from a Dec. 27 traffic stop in New York's Chelsea neighborhood, during which police reported seeing a .45 automatic pistol on a seat in his car.
The rapper's business manager, Gerald Odom, was charged with weapons possession and possession of marijuana in the same incident. Both charges against Odom were dropped Wednesday, according to Wayne Brison, a spokesperson for District Attorney Robert Morgenthau.
Busta Rhymes (born Trevor Smith) will be sentenced to probation June 16, his lawyer, Robert Kalina, said.
"He's very relieved to put this behind him," Kalina said.
Meanwhile, the rapper, whose hits include "Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Could See"
(RealAudio excerpt), is planning a summer headlining tour of amphitheaters and theaters, according to his management company, Violator.
"I apologize to my fans [for dropping off the R. Kelly tour], but I promise that I'll be coming through this summer," he said in a statement issued by Violator.
In the statement, Violator said Busta Rhymes left the tour because "the concert promoter made it impossible to mount a production that would be compatible with the kind of show Rhymes' fans have come to expect from the star." Mona Scott, who works at Violator, wouldn't elaborate on the statement Wednesday except to say a "combination of elements" contributed to the decision to leave.
Tour promoter Lew Rose declined to comment Wednesday. Spokespersons for R. Kelly and Foxy Brown didn't return calls for comment at press time.
The announcement comes following the cancellation of what was to be the opening date of R. Kelly's tour -- a May 5 show in Richmond, Va. -- along with several other dates.
Becky Regrut, head of marketing for the Richmond Coliseum, said the cancellation there was "unusual." Shows sometimes are cancelled when ticket sales are extremely slow, she said, but that wasn't the case with the R. Kelly show. She said promoters didn't say why they cancelled.
Also cancelled were shows May 12 at the Air Canada Center in Toronto; May 24 at the Pepsi Arena in Albany, N.Y.; June 9 at the BSU Pavilion in Boise, Idaho; June 11 at the Gorge in George, Wash.; and June 13 show at GM Place in Vancouver, British Columbia. An employee at the Pepsi Arena, who declined to be named, said ticket sales weren't especially slow there, either.
Meanwhile, a number of shows have been added. New dates include a May 12
show at the Civic Arena in Pittsburgh; a June 5 show at the Arco Arena
in Sacramento, Calif.; and a June 6 show at Arrowhead Pond in Anaheim, Calif.
Besides R. Kelly, Nas and Foxy Brown, the shows are scheduled to feature R&B singers Deborah Cox, Kelly Price and Sparkle.