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Hear & Now

This week on the music beat

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— LYNCH MOB The feud between Nas and Jay-Z has taken another superugly turn. The former was slated to play New York City rap station Hot 97’s Summer Jam on June 26. But when organizers nixed his stage set, the rapper refused to go on. ”He wanted to erect a gallows and ‘lynch’ Jay-Z,” reports Hot 97 program director Tracy Cloherty. ”I can’t have [that].” The next day, Nas told rival stations that Def Jam, Jay-Z’s label, is an ”evil empire” and accused it of paying Hot 97 to play its artists. ”He can say whatever he wants,” says Cloherty. ”I can look at myself in the mirror.”

— WILCO NO GO The story of Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot is practically industry legend: Last year, Reprise, a division of Warner Bros., dropped the band when it determined Yankee wasn’t commercial enough, only to have Warner subsidiary Nonesuch sign Wilco and release the CD to raves and big sales. So you’d think no one would make that mistake again. But now Hollywood Records has dumped Down With Wilco, a project by the alt-country band and the Minus 5, who include R.E.M.’s Peter Buck and the Young Fresh Fellows’ Scott McCaughey. ”It’s probably Wilco’s fault. We’re damaged goods,” says frontman Jeff Tweedy. The trouble began when Mammoth, the indie set to release Down, was shuttered in May and sister label Hollywood (both are owned by Disney) took over marketing and publicity. Hollywood soon scuttled several Mammoth releases, including Down With Wilco, while keeping discs from Los Lobos and alt-rockers A. ”Down With Wilco isn’t the sort of album that’s going to chart high,” says Rob Seidenberg, Mammoth’s ex-prez. ”It’s great music that will require real attention in terms of publicity and marketing.” Says Tweedy: ”I love this record. I have the same feeling about it that I had about Yankee. I hope it ends up somewhere where people are excited about it.”

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