Lil Jon Leads Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Finalists

Rapper/producer Lil Jon tops the list of finalists for this year's Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Awards -- in five categories as a member of the East Side Boyz, as well as in the top producer and top song

Rapper/producer Lil Jon tops the list of finalists for this year's Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Awards. The artist born Jonathan Smith will contend as a member of the East Side Boyz in five categories, including top R&B/hip-hop artist and top R&B/hip-hop duo or group. For his solo endeavors, he is named in the top producer and top songwriter categories.

"I'm happy that Billboard has recognized my hard work," Lil Jon says. "I try to keep my sound relevant and show my range as a producer."

The awards ceremony will close Billboard's sixth annual R&B/hip-hop conference. The event runs Aug. 3-5 at the Intercontinental Hotel in Atlanta.

Alicia Keys and 50 Cent are finalists in six categories each. Both are in the running for top R&B/hip-hop singles artist. That category also includes Usher, who is named in five categories, including top R&B/hip-hop artist.

Destiny's Child and Terror Squad each have four mentions. Additional finalists in multiple categories include Snoop Dogg, Eminem, the Game and Fantasia. Mariah Carey, who recently earned her 16th No. 1 single on The Billboard Hot 100, is a finalist for top female R&B/hip-hop artist.

R. Kelly, last year's leading contender, returns as a finalist in the top songwriter category.

Kelly won in seven of the eight categories in which he was named for 2004, including top R&B/hip-hop songwriter and producer. Lil Jon & the East Side Boyz were also winners last year, picking up hot rap track honors for "Get Low," featuring Ying Yang Twins.

In addition to Lil Jon and Kelly, top songwriter finalists are Scott Storch and Keys. Rounding out the top producer field with Lil Jon and Keys are Storch and Kanye West. West was a first-time finalist last year in the top producer and top songwriter categories as well as for top R&B/hip-hop new artist.

This year's crop of finalists for top new artist is Ciara, the Game, John Legend and third season "American Idol" winner Fantasia.

Comprising 17 categories, the Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Awards honor the most popular albums, songs and artists as well as the top songwriters, producers and major/independent labels. The awards are based on sales data from Nielsen SoundScan and radio airplay information from Nielsen Broadcast Data Systems.

This year's finalists and winners reflect the performance of recordings on the Billboard R&B/hip-hop and rap charts during the period from May 29, 2004, through the issue dated May 21, 2005. New artists are those who have not appeared on a Billboard album chart prior to the March 27, 2004, issue or have not been a new-artist finalist in the past.
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