Snoop Doggy Dogg's Still Tops With Album Buyers : Pop music: His 'Murder Was the Case,' the soundtrack to a short film that premieres tonight, remains atop the charts.

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"Murder Was the Case," the latest album by Long Beach rapper Snoop Doggy Dogg continues its reign at No. 1 on the nation's pop chart--despite stiff competition from pop icons such as Madonna, R.E.M. and Gloria Estefan.

"Murder" is the soundtrack to an 18-minute film, starring Snoop Doggy Dogg and directed by gangsta rap impresario Dr. Dre, that makes its Los Angeles premiere at 8 p.m. tonight at downtown's Variety Arts Center. Several theater chains and independent movie houses, including the State Theater downtown, opted not to show "Murder," fearing a repeat of the violence that accompanied the premieres of "Boyz N the Hood" and "New Jack City," sources said.

The film is also scheduled to be screened in a New York Greenwich Village theater Nov. 17 and will air as a pay-per-view special on Super Bowl Sunday in January before being released on video in February.

"Murder" is based on lyrics to a song by Snoop Doggy Dogg, recorded before he was charged with murder in the shooting death of Philip Woldemariam at a Palms area park Aug. 25, 1993. The 23-year-old rapper, whose real name is Calvin Broadus, is accused of driving the vehicle from which his bodyguard, McKinley Lee, allegedly shot and killed Woldemariam. Both men and their companion, Shawn Abrams, claimed self-defense and have pleaded not guilty. They are scheduled to be tried Jan. 13.

The movie is the first film from Death Row, an entertainment company founded three years ago by Dr. Dre that has generated more than $100 million in sales from such hit albums as Dre's "The Chronic," Snoop Doggy Dogg's "Doggystyle" and the "Above the Rim" soundtrack. Death Row is distributed by Interscope, a subsidiary of Time Warner.

Dr. Dre, whose real name is Andre Young, is one of pop music's hottest producers. He has also directed many of his label's videos and has begun writing a screenplay for a full-length feature he plans to release before 1996.

The "Murder" soundtrack collection includes new tracks by Snoop Doggy Dogg, Jodeci and D.J. Quick, as well as the reunion of Dr. Dre and Ice Cube, former members of the influential L.A. rap group N.W.A. The Dre/Cube song, "Natural Born Killaz," has also spawned its own controversial video. Although not due to be released until December, the video has already enraged media watchdogs because it pokes fun at the gruesome stabbings of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman, as well as the shotgun ambush of Jose and Kitty Menendez.

The "Murder" soundtrack sold an estimated 198,000 copies--nearly 43,000 more than Madonna's new "Bedtime Stories," which will enter the chart at No. 3 during its first week in the stores. R.E.M's "Monster" and Estefan's "Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me" will rank No. 5 and No. 9 respectively with sales of 92,000 and 74,000 when Billboard magazine hits newsstands Saturday.

* Tickets for tonight's screening of "Murder Was the Case" are only available at Fortune Records in Inglewood; Compact Disc N'More in Pasadena; Groovetime Records in San Bernardino; and V.I.P. Records in Long Beach. Tickets will not be available at the Variety Arts Center.

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