Billboard Bits: Beatnuts, Celia Cruz, AOL
News on Beatnuts, Celia Cruz, AOL, Sesame StreetHip-hop duo the Beatnuts have left Loud Records. According to a label source, the split was amicable. The New York-based group's last Loud album, "Take It or Squeeze It," debuted at No. 20 on Billboard's Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart in March and has sold more than 152,000 units in the U.S., according to SoundScan. There is no word yet on whether the Beatnuts have found another label home.
Earlier this year, the group -- which has produced tracks for Mos Def, Fat Joe, Big Pun, and Ghostface Killah -- told Billboard that "Take It or Squeeze It" was unlike anything else in hip-hop at that time. "There's a lot of stuff on the radio that sounds similar," group member Ju-Ju said. "But we always try to wake people up from the daze of all that other stuff. If you cop this album, we will give you your money's worth -- and guarantee your satisfaction.
-- Rashaun Hall, N.Y.
Legendary Cuban vocalist Celia Cruz says she has granted actress Whoopi Goldberg the rights to produce a film based on her life. Goldberg has for years expressed an interest in playing Cruz, but the two only met this year after Cruz performed at a function honoring Goldberg. The actress plans to produce the film through her One Hope Productions company.
Last week, Cruz won the Latin Grammy for best traditional tropical album for her Sony Discos set "Siempre Vivire."
-- Leila Cobo, Miami
America Online (AOL) and Sesame Workshop (creators of the children's series "Sesame Street") have teamed up to create Music Works, a public service initiative to encourage "children to explore, create, and grow with music," according to a statement. Among the aspects of the project is an interactive content area on AOL's Kids Only, Jr. channel (keyword: KO Jr.) that will feature a link to the official Music Works Web site, games, and an offer for a free educational toolkit and video for parents, teachers, and caregivers.
The Kids Only, Jr. channel will also feature the first Webcast of a Muppet concert on Nov. 12 at 6 p.m. ET, live from New York's Madison Square Garden. The concert will feature "Sesame Street" characters performing such classic songs from the series "Sing After Me," "What Makes Music," and "Sing, Sing a Song."
-- Barry A. Jeckell, N.Y.