Thursday, April 14

Rihanna, Eminem, Justin Bieber Lead Billboard Music Award Finalists

It was strictly A-list names at the top of the list when the lead finalists for the 2011 Billboard Music Awards were announced Wednesday (April 13).

In the lead among all nominees was Rihanna, a finalist in 18 categories, who was followed by fellow multiple-award finalists Eminem, Lady Gaga, Bruno Mars and Justin Bieber.

Among the categories Rihanna is up for awards in are: Top Hot 100 Artist, Top Female Artist, Top R&B Artist and Top Dance/Electronic Artist, while her smash collaboration with Eminem, "Love the Way You Lie," racked up notices in six song categories. Right behind her was Slim Shady, a finalist in 16 categories, including Top Billboard 200 Artist, Top Artist, Top Male Artist and Top Rap Artist.

Lady Gaga was next with nods in 12 categories, including Top Dance/Electronic Album, which included three of her releases, The Fame, The Fame Monster and The Remix

Mars and Bieber had 11 nominations each and will face each other in the Top New Artist and Top Male Artist categories. The other contenders in Top New Artist include Ke$ha, Nicki Minaj and Taio Cruz.

The Top Artist category will pit Bieber against, Eminem, Gaga, Rihanna and Taylor Swift, while the Top Rap Album category will be a showdown between Drake, Eminem, Minaj, Lil Wayne and Kanye West. The Top Alternative Artist race will feature Muse facing the Black Keys, Kings of Leon, Linkin Park and Mumford & Sons.

The event honors artists who have appeared on the Billboard charts during the period of February 28, 2010, through March 1, 2011. Winners are also determined by album, single and digital sales, touring, streaming and social interactions on MySpace, Facebook and other popular online destinations for music.

Winners will be announced at the Billboard Music Awards on May 22 at 5 p.m. PT. Among the announced performers are Rihanna, Jennifer Lopez, Cruz, Lady Antebellum, the Black Eyed Peas and Keith Urban.

Tuesday, April 12

Jim Jonsin Keeps Busy With 'American Idol,' Wiz Khalifa, Eminem

Jim Jonsin says he's in bed by midnight, but considering his schedule, we have a tough time believing him. One of the Grammy-winning producer and music executive's latest gigs is mentoring contestants on the current, 10th season of "American Idol." The Brooklyn native's job duties include cutting full cover songs within a week's time that are then sold on iTunes.

"I'm into artist development, so I like taking an artist brand new and working with them and teaching them new things and watching them grow," Jonsin told Mixtape Daily. "They're having to grow at lightning speed. With the music producers injected into this now, now they're really at hard knocks, right? Not only do you have to build this performance, but now you have to record a song. And record an amazing song that's gotta go on iTunes for sale and it reflects you and you being an artist."

Looking at his production discography, it's clear Jonsin's career is nothing short of amazing itself. The former engineer for Slip-N-Slide Records has gone on to produce tracks for artists including T.I., Kelly Rowland, Usher and Lil Wayne, winning a Grammy for 2008's "Lollipop."

Some new jacks have benefited from Jonsin's studio touch too. Wiz Khalifa's "On My Level" from his just-released debut, Rolling Papers, is a Jonsin creation. "He's got that Snoop Dogg vibe with his own twist, Jay-Z kinda," Jonsin said. "Working with Wiz, it was good. He's kind of a traditional hip-hop artist, which I love most, mixed with this edgy skater-punk spirit. He definitely blends with my character: I like that."

Jonsin also speaks highly of B.o.B. The ATL rapper/singer/songwriter's B.o.B Presents: The Adventures of Bobby Ray was released on Jonsin's Rebel Rock label in conjunction with Atlantic Records and Grand Hustle Records. B.o.B and Jonsin have started working on the gold-selling album's follow-up.

"His last album kind of reflects who he is, but he's growing into something new," Jonsin said. "I'm waiting for what he brings us back when we go back in the studio — he's got some ideas — to kind of see the direction he's going in. We're letting him lead that.

He's really talented. The guy produces, writes, he does a lot of his own stuff. I think his album will reflect that. I think this album will have a lot of his own work on it. We're waiting on him to give us the direction.

"I think there'll be less features on this album, more him singing and rapping. Definitely less features: He wants to showcase himself more, put out more of his own ideas."

Another artist Jonsin is working with — Roc Nation's J. Cole — surely has plenty of ideas, even if he has yet to release an album. "He's that traditional hip-hop. I'm trying to give it a little Jim Jonsin, a little crossover, a little rock," Jonsin said. "Some of the stuff we did was more traditional hip-hop with just a little edge to it, some rock in it. So I think we're going to stick to that and see what happens."

Jonsin's schedule is also booked with working with 50 Cent for the first time and with Eminem on his latest Shady Records signee's forthcoming album. "That's going to be fun," Jonsin said. "We're working for Yelawolf's project. It's all about Yela. We're going to actually produce together. I get to work with Eminem producing records."

Friday, April 8

Ludacris teams with Slaughterhouse

Ludacris and Slaughterhouse are boosting up to release a new collaboration for the upcoming Fast Five movie.

Ludacris and the Shady Records signees trade verses on “Furiously Dangerous,” the lead single from the soundtrack to the fifth installment in The Fast and the Furious series. The explosive track, created especially for the film, also features singer Claret Jai. The Latin and hip-hop-influenced soundtrack speeds into stores on May 3 and includes a remix to Don Omar’s “How We Roll” with Busta Rhymes, Reek da Villian, and J-doe.

In addition to lending his rap skills, Luda reprises his role in the racing flick, in theaters April 29. “That movie is amazing. I guarantee you, if not No. 1, it will be top three movies of this year,”

Sunday, April 3

Yelawolf Recalls Meeting Eminem For The First Time

When Yelawolf first met his new boss, Eminem, the meeting couldn't have been more casual.

"He said, 'What's up? I'm Marshall,' " Yelawolf recalled to MTV News on Thursday's (March 10) "RapFix Live."

The meeting obviously went well: Yela is the latest recruit to Em's Shady Records empire, along with Slaughterhouse (Joe Budden, Crooked I, Joell Ortiz and Royce Da 5'9".)

Yela and Em talked in Detroit after producer Jim Jonsin and Eminem's manager urged the rapper to listen to the upstart's music. They shared similarities in their upbringing, and the partnership paid off immediately when the Grammy-winning superstar bestowed the young lyricist with advice, according to Yela.

"I'm a drinker; I drink a lot," he explained. "My management was concerned about some advice he could give me about slowing down so I don't get caught up in that life. He told me if it gets to the point where you need a drink before you go onstage, like you require that to function, is when you need to check yourself. And honestly, that's where I was at that point. And I've changed. I don't drink before I perform anymore."

The Alabama rapper will stick knock back a beer, but he's given up overdoing it before shows. Now, he says, he's enjoying himself more and his confidence has grown.

And that courage helped when he first played Eminem his debut album.

"I'm super excited about the music and fully confident that it's jamming," he said. "I was a little nervous, but after we broke the ice and really chopped it up, he seemed excited about it. So that makes me twice as excited now."

Eminem Overtakes Lady Gaga As Facebook's Most 'Liked' Living Artist

By his own admission, Eminem "doesn't know how to work a computer," but that hasn't stopped him from overtaking Lady Gaga as the most "liked" living artist on Facebook.

Earlier this week, Em eclipsed Gaga to claim the title of Facebook's most-liked, as he currently counts more than 28,975,000 fans to LG's 28,926,000, according to Billboard. Eminem is currently averaging more than 500,000 Facebook "likes" a day, and could soon surpass none other than Michael Jackson to become the site's overall most-liked artist, according to Famecount, a site that tallies the "top social network stars worldwide." The late King of Pop currently has more than 29,183,000 Facebook fans, giving him a slight edge over the hard-charging Em.

Of course, when it comes to overall social influence, Eminem still trails both Gaga and Justin Bieber in total YouTube views — though he recently became the third artist to crack the 1-billion-view mark — and when it comes to total Twitter followers, his 3 million are barely enough to crack Famecount's top 20 musicians: Gaga is #1, followed by the likes of Bieber, Britney Spears, Katy Perry, Rihanna and, uh, Jessica Simpson.

Then again, all signs seem to point to Eminem's social media profile only increasing. He shows up in Dr. Dre's much-anticipated "I Need a Doctor" video, which premiered on Thursday, and just last week, he grabbed headlines when on-set photos from his upcoming "Space Bound" video — featuring porn star Sasha Grey — began making the rounds ... and just in case you were wondering, Grey has more than 110,000 Twitter followers of her own.

Eminem Shoots 'Space Bound' Video With Porn Star Sasha Grey

Eminem is no Vincent Chase, but the rapper — sans entourage, save for a security team — recently shot a video for "Space Bound" that co-stars porn actress-turned-thespian Sasha Grey. The latest clip for a track from the Detroit MC's Grammy-winning comeback album, Recovery, was directed by Joseph Kahn and was shot over three days in Los Angeles.

Em and Grey — who appeared on HBO's "Entourage" last season as the love interest of lead character Chase (portrayed by Adrian Grenier) — play a pair of star-crossed lovers, which relates to the lyrics of the Jim Jonsin-produced song.

"We touch, I feel a rush," Em raps on the track. "We clutch, it isn't much/ But it's enough to make me wonder what's in store for us/ It's lust/ It's torturous/ You must be a sorceress/ 'Cause you just did the impossible/ Gained my trust/ Don't play games, it'll be dangerous/ If you f--- me over/ 'Cause if I get burnt/ I'ma show ya what it's like to hurt/ 'Cause I've been treated like dirt before ya/ And love is 'evol,' spell it backwards, I'll show ya."

Jonsin, who also has produced songs by Beyoncé, Lil Wayne and others, said his collaboration with Eminem was unlike any of the Detroit MC's previous tracks.

"We touched on something that I haven't done anything like that before," Jonsin told MTV News last year. "It's unique in a way for myself. It's a place I've been wanting to go, and I'm so happy he allowed it to go down. He played a huge part in the record. Without him on it, it's not the same. I don't wanna give up too much about what it is and what direction."

The video is the fourth overall clip from Recovery, following "Not Afraid," "Love the Way You Lie" and "No Love."

As of press time, no date has been set for the premiere of "Space Bound."

Bonnaroo 2011 Headlined By Eminem, Lil Wayne, Arcade Fire

On Tuesday (February 15), organizers announced the lineup for the 2011 Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival, set for June 9-12 in Manchester, Tennessee. And, boy, it's going to be interesting to hear the purists' take on this year's bill.

Unlike earlier, decidedly crunchy editions of the fest, the 2011 lineup is topped by two of the hugest hip-hop acts in the business — Eminem and Lil Wayne — along with newly crowned Grammy champs Arcade Fire and the Black Keys. Other acts on the bill include Mumford & Sons, the Strokes, the Decemberists, Florence and the Machine, Big Boi, Wiz Khalifa and Robyn.

Of course, there are still some nods to Bonnaroo's roots: Fest vets Widespread Panic return once again, as do My Morning Jacket and the String Cheese Incident. Also doing their part for the traditionalists out there are reunited legends Buffalo Springfield (in their only festival performance), Robert Plant and the Band of Joy, and Dr. John and the Original Meters, who will perform their 1974 album Desitively Bonnaroo, from which the festival took its name.

Tickets for Bonnaroo 2011 go on sale Saturday, February 19 at 12 p.m. ET through the festival's official website.