Billboard Bits: Jay-Z, Erick Sermon, R. Rock Town Fair

News ons Jay-Z, Erick Sermon, Rolling Rock Town Fair

Groove ArmadaRapper Jay-Z (real name: Shawn Carter) has pacted with sportswear manufacturer Reebok to market an athletic shoe line to be called the "S. Carter Collection by Rbk." Due out in June, the initial shoe will be available in "limited and exclusive stores." For a limited time, each shoebox will include a special edition CD single from Jay-Z written and recorded specifically for his Reebok shoe line.

"The collection is and authentic reflection of my personal style," Jay-Z said in a statement. "People who check out the 'S. Carter Collection' should know that this collection definitely meets my high standards and expectations." The agreement will also allow future production of outfits in Jay-Z's Roc-A-Wear clothing line that coordinate with his Reebok shoes.

Jay-Z will also collaborate with Reebok and its marketing agency, Arnell Group, to create a campaign to promote the company's basketball line. The first ad will be unveiled during the Feb. 7-9 National Basketball Association (NBA) All-Star Weekend.

-- Barry A. Jeckell, N.Y.

Groove ArmadaAlthough his latest J Records album, "React" is fresh on the racks, Erick Sermon is already working on other projects. While he doesn't rule out a future album by EPMD (the rap duo he and Parrish Smith created in 1987), Sermon says it won't be in the near future. "Right now, we're concentrating on Redman's and Keith Murray's projects," Sermon tells Billboard. "Then we'll have a Def Squad album after that. If EPMD is going to happen next year, it will be late 2003."

EPMD has been inactive since its 1999 Def Jam album "Out of Business," which debuted at No. 2 on Billboard's Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums tally. Sermon's new album is off to a good start, having bowed last month at No. 13 on that survey. The title cut, which features Redman, is No. 9 on Billboard's Hot Rap Tracks chart -- not bad for a tune that was never meant to see the light of day.

"The beat was made two years ago for Redman, and I was in the studio rocking it," Sermon says of the Just Blaze-produced single. "I was playing an old DAT when I came across it. I just started wilding on it, because I was never really trying to make it a real record."

-- Rashaun Hall, N.Y.

Next year's fourth annual Rolling Rock Town Fair music festival will be relocated from the Westmoreland Fairgrounds in Latrobe Brewing Company's home in Latrobe, Pa., to Heinz Field in Pittsburgh. The company made the move to the relatively new stadium -- home of the Pittsburgh Steelers NFL franchise and University of Pittsburgh football games -- because it has the infrastructure and amenities to accommodate the more than 40,000 people that have attended each of the past Town Fairs.

Specifics, including an exact date and artist roster for the 2003 version of the festival, are being determined for the mid-summer event. "We will announce the date and all other details just as soon as possible," Rolling Rock brand manager Jonathan Genese said in a statement. "Our goal is not to reinvent Town Fair, but to bring this highly successful concept, with its unique flavor and small-town-festival feel, into an exciting new high-profile location so even more people can enjoy the special experience."

-- Barry A. Jeckell, N.Y.


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