Eminem To Replace Cypress Hill On Warped Tour

Sudden switch made at the eleventh hour.

Eminem has been added to the Vans Warped Tour in place of Cypress Hill, who suddenly dropped out of the punk and hip-hop tour just two weeks before it was scheduled to begin.

Kevin Lyman, the festival's founder and producer, said the Latino hip-hop group told him Wednesday afternoon it was backing out so it could record songs for a new album.

"It was pretty much out of the blue," Lyman said. "I was looking forward to Cypress Hill, but things happen."

But he said he found a replacement in two hours -- namely, 24-year-old Detroit rapper Eminem, whose album The Slim Shady LP, featuring "My Name Is" (RealAudio excerpt), has sold 2 million copies and has made him one of 1999's biggest commercial successes. Lyman said he approached Eminem several months ago about joining the tour but was unable to get a commitment.

Wednesday's turnaround came as a pleasant surprise, Lyman said.

"He's definitely selling some records," he said. "Hopefully, it'll get some excitement going."

Eminem will play all 31 North American dates of the tour, which begins June 25 at Retama Square in San Antonio, Texas. Fourteen other acts are doing the full tour: rock bands Blink 182, Pennywise, Sevendust, the Living End, Suicidal Tendencies, the Vandals, Bouncing Souls, the Dropkick Murphys, RiverFenix, Grinspoon and Molotov; rappers Ice-T and Black Eyed Peas; and reggae band Common Sense.

The tour moves to Europe for 11 shows in early August; Lyman did not say whether Eminem would perform at those dates.

In all, Lyman said, more than 100 acts will play at least one show on the tour, which will be held in open fields and amphitheater parking lots for audiences of around 10,000 people. Each show will feature more than 30 acts, as well as dirt-bike exhibitions, dance-party tents and other attractions.

Cypress Hill will still headline the Watcha Tour, a Latin-music equivalent to Warped, Lyman said. That tour, which also features ska-punkers Voodoo Glow Skulls and neo-swing act Royal Crown Revue, begins Aug. 1 at the Pompano Amphitheater grounds in Miami.

Eminem, a 10-year veteran of underground hip-hop, saw his first major-label record, The Slim Shady LP debut at #2 on the Billboard 200 albums chart in early March. It's currently at #25.

The graphic lyrics to such songs as " '97 Bonnie and Clyde" (RealAudio excerpt) raised some hackles. Billboard editor Timothy White denounced the album in an editorial.

"I know I think twisted in a lot of ways, but I'm not an a--hole," the rapper (born Marshall Mathers) said. "A lot of people listen to my sh-- and they just assume I'm this guy, this f---ing maniac. I ain't even like that. I can be like that, but I'm not like that sitting here."

SonicNet is the exclusive online presenter of the Vans Warped tour and the designer of its official website (www.warpedtour.com).