This week on the music beat

By Rob Brunner
Updated August 24, 2001 at 04:00 AM EDT

LIL’ FAIR With urban radio resembling a munchkin convention (Lil’ Kim, Lil’ Mo, Lil’ Romeo, etc.), now’s the perfect time for a small summit. For the upcoming Keanu Reeves film Hardball, So So Def head Jermaine Dupri has assembled a mini-supergroup featuring Lil’ Bow Wow, Lil’ Wayne, Lil’ Zane, and Lil’ Sammy. Dubbed the Lil’ Rascals, they’ve recorded ”Hardball,” the first single from the soundtrack (due Sept. 11). But aren’t these diminutive monikers getting to be a lil’ much? ”I think it’s enough now,” says Dupri (whose new album Instructions is out Oct. 2). ”A lot of people jumped on that bandwagon real quick. We saw the Bigs already, and it’s the Lil’ episode right now.” What’s next, the Notorious M.E.D.I.U.M.?

FEST INTENTIONS American music fans have long drooled over the lineup for England’s annual Reading Festival, which seems to squeeze every important act of the moment onto its three-day bill. Well, wipe your chins, because Reading will make its U.S. debut on Sept. 8, at Camden, N.J.’s Tweeter Center. So far the schedule lacks some of the luster of its U.K. counterpart (that Aug. 24-26 lineup includes Staind, Stephen Malkmus, and the Strokes, and that’s just a few of the S’s), but with Eminem, Linkin Park, and Xzibit headlining and hipper acts Clinic and Muse signing on, that could change. ”The kids will not come because it is called Reading Festival,” says Melvin Benn, managing director of Mean Fiddler, the company behind Reading. ”They’ll only come if it has the talent.” Mean Fiddler hopes to add more U.S. dates and venues next year. ”[This year’s American festival] will only be one day and the bill is being put together at the last minute,” says Benn. ”But what we’re saying is, this is the start of it.”

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