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Rock News: Music's high and low notes

By United Press International

HIP-HOP RALLY FOR SCHOOLS

Organizers claimed more than 100,000 parents, teachers, students, hip-hop artists and others gathered at New York City Hall Tuesday to send a message to Mayor Michael Bloomberg -- that they will not quietly accept proposed cuts in city spending for public education.

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The United Federation of Teachers, the Alliance for Quality Education and the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network (HSAN) organized the demonstration, which featured appearances by LL Cool J, Sean "P. Diddy" Combs, "Sex and the City" star Cynthia Nixon, recording artist Alicia Keys and Russell Simmons, hip-hop mogul and HSAN chairman.

"I think many of us have been asleep for too long and I feel this march was a wake up for some," said Simmons. "This is the beginning of a long sustained effort on the part of the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network for prioritizing education in our cities."

UFT president Randi Weingarten reminded the crowd that New York City teachers have gone nearly 18 months without a contract and two years without a raise.

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"Many of our best teachers are leaving just as our schools are facing serious budget cuts," said Weingarten.

Nixon called the event a positive opportunity for New York school kids.

"Public school kids, who have been feeling so much anxiety and anger about the de-funding of their schools, were given the opportunity to come together and express themselves," she said.

Keys said her younger brother's school has already cut some programs due to budget constraints. Combs said, "We need our books, we need our teachers, we need our education and we're not going to settle for less."

RZA from the Wu Tang Clan -- who has been providing computers to schools in urban communities -- said the turnout at the rally was a challenge to the mayor.

"Mayor Bloomberg can say no one cares," said the rapper, "but 100,000 people showed up today."


NUCK CARTER SOLO ALBUM DUE

Nick Carter will be the first member of Backstreet Boys to release a solo album.

He told LAUNCH the album does not have a release date yet, but he's thinking September.

"Right now I've been in the studio, and I've got, like, over 30 songs recorded," said Carter. "And they are thinking about a single in a couple of months, and the album later on this year -- maybe late September."

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Carter promises fans that the Backstreet Boys sound will be present on the album, but he also plans to rock a little harder too.

"Of course, I can't stray too far away from what I've done, so I'm stuck with that," he said.

Carter said it will be "interesting to see how the public accepts it," but he's also getting some personal satisfaction from the project -- "so it's going to be cool."

He said that his decision to release a solo album does not mean the end of Backstreet Boys.

"We're not breaking up," said Carter. "I mean, everybody's all, like, worried: 'Nick's doing this and the Backstreet Boys are over,' and all this stuff. I mean, you know, I've been in the group for 10 years, since I was 12, so I mean, I'm 22 now and I really want to try something new."


PHARCYDE ALUM READIES NEW PROJECT

Tre' Hardson -- better known as Slimkid Tre' when he was with the jazz-flavored, hip-hop, soundscape project The Pharcyde -- is almost ready to release his first solo album since leaving the group.

"Liberation" is set for release on Sept. 10.

The CD has 17 songs, recorded mostly in Los Angeles, and partially produced by Tre'. Guest artists include Saul Williams, Chali 2na of Jurassic 5, MC Lyte, and N'Dea Davenport, formerly of the Brand New Heavies.

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SILVERCRUSH TOUR DETAILS

Silvercrush will hit the road in support of their June 18 release "Stand" as part of the line-up for the "Jeep World Outside Festival Tour" with headliners Sheryl Crow and Train."

The five week, 23-city tour kicks off July 10 in Charlotte, N.C. In addition to the music, it features Outside Magazine Adventure Village -- and bills itself as "the first national tour to combine interactive action sports and music."

Several tracks from Silvercrush's upcoming national debut album are featured in extreme-related media, including the first single "Who Is Me" on the as-yet-untitled Surf video game starring Kelly Slater. The track "Tired" shows up on several films -- including Teton Gravity's "Valhalla" Extreme Kayaking and Hoffman Films' "Primetime" on Hawaiian Kiteboarding.

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