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SOURCE AWARDS BROADCAST GARNERS RECORD RATINGS

Even Without Fistfights, UPN Grabs 5.3 Million Viewers With Hip-Hop Awards Show
Perhaps buoyed by press coverage of the violence that erupted during the taping of the show, The Source Hip-Hop Music Awards landed UPN's biggest Tuesday night ratings.

Over 5.3 million households—4 million more than last year—tuned into the broadcast, which substituted anti-violence public service announcements for fistfight footage. Mos Def, Cash Money Millionaires and Wyclef Jean appeared in the PSAs.

"We had no expectations for the ratings," said UPN spokesman Charles Barile. "The controversy may have played a part in (record ratings), but that would be speculation." Barile pointed to the national popularity of hip-hop as the main cause in the ratings spike.

The broadcast began with Mos Def's PSA, which referred to the brawl that erupted during the taping. The rapper implored fans to stop violence. "I'm encouraging everyone to do like that MC Lyte song said: Leave the guns and knives at home," Wyclef said in his spot, then urging fans to pick up a mic or an instrument instead.

The oddest spot of the evening, as reported by Inside.com, was the ad for Death Row Records' forthcoming compilation "Too Gangsta For Radio," which featured a large, bald, cigar-smoking incarcerated man secretly burning CDs in his cell.

Maybe it wasn't an allusion to jailed Death Row founder Suge Knight. Sure, and maybe the ratings spike had nothing to do with the violence during the taping.

Only five of the 15 awards were handed out at the Aug. 22 taping before a melee ensued, allegedly spurred by a scuffle between Bay Area rappers E-40 and Mack Minister. Cohosts Busta Rhymes and Mo'Nique repeatedly told viewers that other honors were given out earlier in the evening. Some of the winners gave videotaped acceptance speeches. The show also featured performances by Mobb Deep, Lil' Kim, Wyclef, Lil' Bow Wow, Made Men, Tha Eastsidaz and Dead Prez.

While cohost Mo'Nique assured viewers that the show would "most definitely be back next year," Barile admitted that it was unclear whether UPN would broadcast it.

The show will be rebroadcast on Sept. 29.

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