Allison Samuels

Suge As Media Event

Growing up as an only child in Augusta, Ga., I regularly spent time with my grandmother, the daughter of a share cropper who put eight daughters through college during the 1950's and 1960's.

Hits Until The End Of Time

Tupac Shakur was a huge basketball fan--he even portrayed a wanna-be ''baller'' in the 1993 film "Above the Rim." But the rapper had never been to a professional basketball game before Suge Knight took him to one in 1996, shortly after Shakur signed with Knight's Death Row Records. "It was the Lakers versus the Bulls, with Michael Jordan playing,'' recalls Knight. "Pac was jumping up and down in his chair, cheering like a little kid.

Wall Of Soul

When her debut album, "Who Is Jill Scott?" hit the music racks last July, the soul artist decided she didn't want to shout the answer from the rooftops. There'd be no full-spread ad in Rolling Stone, no "Live With Regis," no cardboard cutouts in Virgin Megastores--even though the man with the money behind her record label, NBA legend Michael Jordan, could have guaranteed that and more.

The Nba's No-Shows

L.A. vs. New York figures to be a showcase for NBA excitement. But by the time the Lakers arrived for their once-a-year showdown against the Knicks in Madison Square Garden last month, the dysfunctional L.A.

Badu Back On The Throne

Erykah Badu has been accused of it all. Accused of being way too righteous, accused of getting too carried away with her religious philosophies (just get her going) and accused of being way too weird.

Root, Root Root For The Losers

The Los Angeles Clippers, the NBA's perennial doormat, may not be ready to compete against the stellar Los Angeles Lakers on the floor. But the Clippers, who play in the Staples Center, just like the NBA champs do, are aiming to take on Shaq, Kobe et al.

Bigger, Stronger, Faster

One by one, they've left the field. First John Elway in a blaze of Super Bowl glory, then Steve Young in a haze of concussions and, finally, Dan Marino with every passing record but no ring.

Basketball's Bad Boy

It's 1:30 a.m. in a small recording studio in a seedy South Philly neighborhood where NBA superstar Allen Iverson and his boys are laying down tracks for his debut album, "Non Fiction." After 30-minutes of nonstop rap, Iverson, dressed in oversize jeans, a black T shirt and matching do-rag, orders a break to talk with a reporter about his musical venture.

Cool Like That

After 15 years in the rap game, LL Cool J knew he'd have to keep it real in a hip-hop market overrun with new faces. So he holed up in his grandmother's basement in Queens, N.Y., just like he used to do when he was a fresh-faced kid in a Kangol hat, and began writing the slickest, most arrogant raps he could think of.

'We Have The Power'

To get a sense of the issues facing black professional women, NEWSWEEK invited a handful of prominent "sisters" to talk about life: Cheryl Mills, the former deputy White House counsel and current vice president at Oxygen Media; Mae Jemison, former astronaut and current director of the Jemison Institute at Dartmouth; Debbie Allen, director, producer, actress, dancer; Lisa Sullivan, founder and president of LISTEN Inc.; Ananda Lewis, MTV host; Amy Holmes, political commentator, and Tracey Kemble,...

The Color Of Funny

After the premiere, there is a party. But it's only after the party that anybody really parties. Welcome to the after-after party. It's a Monday night in Los Angeles--actually, it must be Tuesday morning by now--and Eddie Murphy, Keenen Ivory Wayans, Prince, Arsenio Hall and an army of Cristal bottles are holed up in an extravagant hotel suite high above Universal Studios.

Periscope

What rapper Juvenile needed was a little extra spending money. What he got was a major hassle. He was in San Diego last Wednesday, taping a segment of "SoCal Summer," MTV's beach-house show.

A Whole Lotta Lil' Kim

BEING A HIP-HOP DIVA HAS some non-negotiable requirements. You gotta rock the ice (i.e., sport diamonds), you gotta wear the designers (Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci) and, most important, you gotta have the hair.

Critical Moment

Our Opinionated Guide from One to Five StarsMUSIC Whitney Houston, 'The Greatest Hits' (Arista, 2 CDs) After all the tabloid stories, here's what counts: that voice.

A Season Of Shame

As he turned 25 years old last week in an Atlanta courtroom at his own murder trial, football star Ray Lewis wasn't looking much like a hero. Wearing a sober suit, he scribbled notes on a yellow legal pad and talked to his defense team, barely glancing at his two codefendants just 10 feet away.

The Next Big 'Thong'

Being cheeky hasn't hurt Sisqo's career. Propelled by his ode to the female posterior, "Thong Song," his debut album has sold more than 2 million copies. MTV declared the tune--in which telling a woman she "got dumps like a truck" is high praise--its official spring-break anthem.

Joan Lunden Says 'I Do'

Why the quickie marriage last week between Joan Lunden, 49, and her beau of three years, Jeff Konigsberg, 39? The summer-camp owner presented Lunden with a ring--literally on a silver platter--over dinner on April 8, and they were married just 10 days later.

Hipper Than Hip-Hop

Rapping may be the only thing puffy can't do. Rumor has it that after the dismal sales of his last album, Sean (Puffy) Combs might quit performing altogether.

Shaq In The Battle Again

Last season Shaquille O'Neal kept to a well-established routine. In the evening, after recovering from the rigors of practice, he would head over to a local high-school gym and work on free-throw shooting, his Achilles' heel.

Bopping Right To The Top

Getting hurt may be a lucky break for artists. Just days after 'N Sync-er Lance Bass twisted his ankle during a "Saturday Night Live" performance, the group rocked the music industry by selling 1.1 million copies of "No Strings Attached" its first day in stores--and went on to sell a record 2.42 million for the week.

A Whole New Racquet

Will Venus Williams retire at 19? Last week when her outrageous dad said she might leave tennis to focus on her education and investments, people laughed. "I wouldn't take anything he says too seriously," said top player Lindsay Davenport.

Rap's Ultimate Outsiders

You'll see lots of big-name rappers on the Grammys this week, but the one who outstripped them all in 1999 didn't get a single nomination. So Wednesday night Juvenile, whose CD "400 Degreez" sold 4 million units, will work Rochester, N.Y.--taking the stage, as usual, by leaping out of a giant Plexiglas Rolex.

Nothing But Garnett

Kevin Garnett is a gifted mimic. He steps off the basketball court and seconds later is on a rollicking roll, from the late rapper Tupac Shakur to a dead-on Tony Montana, the Al Pacino mobster in "Scarface," to quick riffs goofing on his Minnesota Timberwolves teammates.

Their Burning Love

Looks like Lisa Marie Presley is a sucker for a serenade. Elvis's daughter, 32, is engaged again, this time to singer John Oszajca, 25. It's her third attempt at harmony with a musician.

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