The nominations for the MTV Video Music Awards were announced yesterday and Jay-Z led the pack, picking up six nods for his video "99 Problems." Beyonce ("Naughty Girl," "Me, Myself and I"), No Doubt ("It's My Life") and OutKast ("Hey Ya") each had five nominations. The awards ceremony will be held Aug. 29 in Miami and will include performances by Usher, Jessica Simpson and Kanye West . . .

Rapper Ja Rule (real name Jeffrey Atkins) was released on $7,500 bail after appearing in a Toronto court Monday on an assault charge. The 28-year-old is to return to court Aug. 30, when a trial date will be set. Police said the charges stem from an incident at a Toronto nightclub on June 5, but no further details were available . . .

English chanteuse Marianne Faithfull has finished a new studio album, this time enlisting the talents of Nick Cave, P.J. Harvey and Blur's Damon Albarn, among others. "Before the Poison" will be out Sept. 27 on punk label Epitaph's Anti- imprint . . .

In the latest musician-organized effort to get out the vote this fall, singer Ani DiFranco will embark on her "Vote Dammit" tour starting Sept. 10 near Pittsburgh. The tour will cover the "swing states," including several stops in Florida, according to Pollstar.com. Jazz and hip-hop group Soulive and comedian Margaret Cho will join DiFranco on select dates. The nearest local stop on the tour is Baltimore's Lyric Theatre on Sept. 11.

-- Compiled by K. Wilcox

from Web and wire reports

Jay-Z and Beyonce, shown last year, have 11 MTV video award nominations between them.