Billboard Bits: Raekwon, 'Showtime,' Cannabis Cup
News on Raekwon, 'Showtime,' Cannabis CupWu-Tang Clan MC Raekwon has severed ties with Columbia's Loud Records imprint and is in negotiations with several major labels for his recording career, sources say. Rumor has it that the Staten Island, N.Y.-native is also planning a strategic alliance with the family of television producer Aaron Spelling ("Melrose Place," "Dynasty"), which would cover not only his music career but film and TV representation and a new urban clothing line.
Raekwon's 1995 Loud solo debut, "Only Built 4 Cuban Linx...," peaked at No. 2 on Billboard's Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. In 1999, his sophomore set, "Immobilarity," reached the same position.
Raekwon wouldn't be the first artist to leave Loud since it was absorbed in March by Columbia. Veteran rap duo the Beatnuts also left, and have since signed with Landspeed Records, while M.O.P. inked with Roc-A-Fella. Mobb Deep is reportedly also in talks with Jive, although label sources would neither confirm nor deny the rumor.
-- Rashaun Hall, N.Y.
Hosted by actress/comedian Mo'Nique ("The Parkers," "Queens of Comedy"), the newly revamped television series "Showtime at the Apollo" will launch this weekend in syndication. Already lined up to appear at some point during this season of the show are Nelly, Clipse, Gloria Gaynor, Queen Latifah and the Unit, Amerie, and Destiny's Child's Kelly Rowland.
Produced by Heritage Networks, "Showtime at the Apollo" originates from the legendary Apollo Theater in New York's Harlem neighborhood. "I grew up in Harlem and can remember seeing all the great shows at the Apollo and thinking someday I want to be part of that magic," the show's new executive producer Suzanne de Passe said in a statement. "For me this is not only a homecoming, it is a dream come true."
-- Barry A. Jeckell, N.Y.
De La Soul, Fishbone, and Fun Lovin' Criminals are among the artists lined up to perform at the 15th annual High Times Cannabis Cup in Amsterdam. Under the theme of world peace, the five-day event kicks off Nov. 24 and will boast educational seminars on marijuana cultivation, culture, and activism.
This year will also mark the induction of Joan Baez and Bob Dylan into the magazine's Counterculture Hall of Fame. Other performers and special guests slated to appear during the 2002 event include the High and Mighty, Five Points Band, Artery, Sonar, Defari, Cage, Howard Marks, Peter Baez, Jorge Cervantes, Kyle Kushman, Michka, Hillary Black, and Fab Five Freddy.
For more information on the Cannabis Cup, visit High Times magazine's official Web site.
-- Barry A. Jeckell, N.Y.