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Hip-Hop Fridays: Industry And Street Notes...February 28, 2003


The industry is still buzzing about producer/rapper David Banner's $10 million deal with SRC/Universal, negotiated by power broker, Wendy Day. The platinum producer who has done work for Trick Daddy, Pastor Troy, Snoop Dogg, and Lil Flip, signed the 5 release, $2 million per release, deal with the Steve Rifkind Company (SRC) and Universal Records Group for his southern flavored record label, b.i.G. f.a.c.e. Entertainment. Upon signing Steve Rifkind explained, "he truly has a vision from A to Z - a whole complete package. Plus, he is a great businessman and one of the most talented people that I have ever met - and I have met alot of talented people. I am really looking foward to working with David Banner and his whole team." Steve Rifkind is the former owner of Loud Records which broke such international power houses as: Wu Tang Clan, Mobb Deep, Big Pun, and Three 6 Mafia. "I have not been this excited about a project since Eminem or Cash Money, and I am so happy to see the major labels are back to bidding on multi-million dollar deals. This, along with 50 Cent's recent sales, is a positive sign for the economy of the music business," an elated Wendy Day stated.


...speaking of 50 Cent the Shady/Aftermath superstar is coming back out with another release. In April, "The New Breed" limited edition DVD will be released along with new material - previously unreleased music left off of the current album and just recorded material. The industry is still in awe over the Queens native's unprecedented (for a hip-hop artist)mere 5% loss in sales in his second week out. While opening up with over 870,000 units sold, 50 Cent came back with over 800,000 in week two. Most rappers lose as much as 50% in sales from week 1 to week 2. By the way 50 Cent, who was getting as little as $7,500 per show early this year is now commanding up to $50,000 per performance...


...Folks are still talking about the post-Grammy party at BB King's blues club thrown by Erykah Badu and Common. The star of the show was the live entertainment which had, at one point, Brian McKnight on keys, Meshell Ndegeocello on bass, Raphael Siddiq on guitar, The Roots' ?uestlove on drums, and Jill Scott on vocals. Oh, and Prince in the audience. By the way, you heard it here first, the party hosts - Erykah Badu and Common - are officially engaged. Common is embarking on a 35-city tour, rolling with a five-piece band...


...speaking of ?uestlove, industry insiders are remarking on Eminem's snaring of The Roots as his live back up band for the recent Grammy's while Jay-Z chose to use pre-recorded music for his Showtime appearance. The general word is that most were disappointed with Jay-Z's performance which was perceived as lacking creativity, while Eminem gets credit for keeping it simple with a live band that did an excellent job rendering "Lose Yourself." There is no doubt that the Jay-Z/Showtime event would have been better with The Roots backing H.O.V. up like they did on MTV Unplugged. Insiders say the almost back-to-back events presented a scheduling conflict for The Roots. The Jay-Z concert which led in for last Saturday's Mike Tyson-Clifford Etienne fight was good for business with a record amount of new subscribers for the premium cable channel in the northeast. Of course, we all know that many people terminated their service early Monday morning. Has anybody noticed that Jay-Z is taking it upscale - Showtime concerts, Heineken commercials, and the video for "Excuse Me Miss." The suit is even back on the Brooklyn-rapper. Smart move now that 50 Cent is holding the streets, for the moment. Roc-A-Fella definitely understands marketing 101...

...Back in 1994, way out in Long Island, sitting in my car, Nas and I discussed ideas for screenplays. Nas told me back then that he ultimately wanted to get into the movie business. Well, aside from his cameo in the movie Belly, it has finally happened for Nas. Screenwriter Luce Gordon called me this week and gave me the good news that his movie collaboration with Nas just made some serious noise and was well received at the recent Pan-African Film Festival. It turns out that Nas and Luce Gordon sold MGM-based Absolute Entertainment their creative effort "Cousins." The story, produced by Saratoga Films and Ill Will, follows a young inner-city man who inherits a sprawling ancestral home in the Deep South - only to discover it is haunted and its spectral inhabitants have decidedly comedic plans to bring warring factions of his family home together. The duo have also produced an independent film, "Sacred"; a love story about a young couple's journey from small-town America and the corrosive effect success and fame have on their lives...

...It is good that Nas has a second career developing because we don't know what the future may hold for Black music at Nas' Sony record company. The decison to lay off 1,000 employees, after a fourth quarter $142 million operating loss, is sending shockwaves through the industry with Black music employees at Sony not the only ones worried about their professional futures. Black music employees throughout the entire music industry are fearing the worst with increased competition for a decreasing number of employment opportunities. While in NYC last week, an industry insider said that people are beginning to see the handwriting on the wall and some expect that sooner rather than later there will be unprecedented mergers taking place among the major corporate music business divisions and the multinationals that own them, leaving more people out of work...


...As much as everyone was ready to hate, it is overwhelmingly accepted that R. Kelly's Chocolate Factory is a favorite among leading Hip-Hop artists, executives and opinion leaders. Even the hater-in-chief Star, from the Star and Bucwild morning show on Hot 97, is singing the album's praises. Chocolate Factory sold 532,000 copies its first week, just a few less than R. Kelly's pre-scandal peak of 543,000 for opening sales of TP-2.Com in late 2000...

...Speaking Of Hot 97, word is that Miss Jones, who is tearing up mornings on Philly 103.9 FM will also be filling in for Angie Martinez in her afternoon slot in the Big Apple. Miss Jones, who was originally on Hot 97 before heading down the New Jersey turnpike, will be holding down Angie Martinez's spot for 6 months until the pregnant host returns. Hot 97 is providing Miss Jones a car service, perks and 5-figure salary for the half-year stint that will have her on the air from 6AM to 10AM in Philly and then live in New York City from 2PM to 6PM...


Cedric Muhammad

Friday, February 28, 2003

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