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Fire Starter: Miami Kaos
MK's artwork is so respected, his tag on a mixtape has become just as important as the name of the DJ putting out the music. And chances are you already have tons of his work in your collection, from Lil Wayne's Da Drought 3 to Remy Ma's controversial Shesus Khryst. In 2007 alone, he created more than 400 covers. Next up for the Harlem native is his first graphic novel, "Hardcore." The series will revive characters Chance and Sin from the defunct "Past Imperfect" strip, which ran in The Source years ago. Also in the mix is a comic strip called "Teed Idols" that will debut in a new mag set to launch later this year, and a mixtape of his own put out by his crew, LXG, called The Gods Must Be Crazy, which features verses that name-check the man upstairs.


Mixtape Monday: Nas Drops Exclusive New Lyrics; Snoop Dogg Insists He Can Out-Sing Diddy

— by Shaheem Reid and Jayson Rodriguez, with additional reporting by Rahman Dukes and Brennan Williams

Artist: Sheek Louch

Representing: D-Block

Mixtape: The Howling

411: Sheek Louch is looking younger than when he was riding around the streets of Las Vegas with Mase in the "Feels So Good" video and throwing money out of a car window.

"I ain't getting no younger, fam," he laughs, sitting in the D-Block studios in New York, his son, Little Sean, running around kicking a soccer ball and asking engineer Poobs if he can get on the mic. "I'm 33 years old."

Sheek previewed his upcoming independent LP, Silverback Gorilla, for the Mixtape Monday fam, including a track called "D-Block/Dipset," featuring the LOX, Jim Jones and Hell Rell.

"Dipset?" smiled Louch, who just came from hanging out with Cam'ron. "Love. Love. You know our history with Cam and Jim Jones. We remember when Jim wasn't rapping. That's why I'm so proud of him. Now he's full-blown outta here. He's always had that swag, and our relationship with Children of the Corn and rapping in Harlem, battling, we've been with each other forever. It was time."

Silverback's first single is probably going to be "Good Love." "I'm not murdering nobody on there. It's a feel-good record," Louch laughed. "Silverback Gorilla is off the hook. The beats are crazy; the hooks are crazy. I feel good. I can't tell you about sales. People who sold multimillions can't tell you about sales right now. But I can tell you you're gonna love it."

The Yonkers, New York, native describes The Howling, his latest tape, as the third in a trilogy of mixtapes, starting with The Wolfe and Still the Wolfe. Look for his new talent from D-Block, Bully and Bucky, on there as well.

And if you're wondering, which we know good and well you are, the LOX are still signed to Interscope. Looks like Jimmy Iovine isn't letting them go anywhere. And Sheek just finished up a major NYC posse cut with LL Cool J and Fat Joe for Uncle L's Exit 13 album.

Joints To Check For:

  • "Concrete Jungle." "That got a lot to do with how I named my album Silverback Gorilla," he explained. " ... It's a lot of rappers [out there], but they little guys. I'm one of the beasts in this game — lyrically, mentally, size-wise and all that. ... I be in the 'hood. I know it's wolves everywhere; they prey on the rappers and boxers and athletes. I think like a wolf. I am a wolf. Silverback Gorilla, they say this is the concrete jungle. I'm sitting there, I know it's tigers and lions out, but I'm sitting there like a gorilla with my family. I'm grinding. We're them boys that will tear you apart if you try to do something to them."

  • "Stikem." "I got my man Bully on there," he said. "It's a teaser."

  • "Brand New Life." "[It's] produced by Boy Wonder," Sheek described. " ... It's saying I feel great. I'm in the best shape of my life. ... My lyrics is up to somewhere else. ... I feel I'mma get younger every album."

Don't Sleep: Other Notable Selections This Week
  • Big Mike & Dirty Harry - Hood Talk 2.1
  • Cam'ron - Killa 4 Hire
  • DMX - The Dogz Mixtape: Who's Next?
  • Jay-Z and Ghostface Killah - American Ironman
  • Quan - Most Anticipated

'Hood's Heavy Rotation: Bubbling Below The Radar
  • Bizzy Bone (featuring DMX and Chris Notez) - "A Song for You"
  • Bow Wow and Omarion (featuring Swizz Beatz, Cassidy and Soulja Boy) - "Girlfriend" remix
  • DJ Kay Slay (featuring Busta Rhymes, Papoose and Big Lou) - "The Last Lyricist"
  • Ice Cube - "Gangsta Rap Made Me Do It"
  • Joe Budden - "Dear Diary"
  • Rick Ross (featuring R. Kelly and Chris Brown) - "Speedin" remix
  • Skillz - "07 Rap Up"
  • Small World (featuring Ludacris) - "Mr. Magnificent"
  • Sterling Simms (featuring Cassidy) - "Stuck in Traffic"
  • Styles P (featuring Jadakiss and Sheek Louch) - "Blow My Mind" remix

Celebrity Faves

  Chris Jericho
Chris, we missed you on "Monday Night Raw"! When he's chillin' with his 4-year-old son watching "SpongeBob SquarePants," nothing beats "I'm a Goofy Goober," but when WWE superstar Chris Jericho is around the adults, he's riding to the Jiggaman.

" 'Probably '99 Problems,' " the man nicknamed Y2J said when asked to name his favorite Hov track. "I started listening to Jay-Z when The Grey Album came out and Danger Mouse put together The White Album's tracks and combined it with The Black Album. The Beatles are my band. I think The White Album is probably my favorite Beatles album. So I heard about it and was like, 'Who is this Danger Mouse putting together this Jay-Z with the Beatles?' '99 Problems' is mixed with 'Helter Skelter.' I heard it and was like, 'This is great.'

"Then I started getting into Jay-Z and found out what his kick is, how he does everything on the spot in the studio," Jericho continued. "You took the Beatles' genius and added Jay-Z. Danger Mouse is just as much of a genius for doing that. Then Gnarls Barkley came out, and I got into that because [Danger's] the same dude. Then I got into Cee-Lo because he's a great singer."

The Streets Is Talking: News & Notes From The Underground

"I feel like Cassius Clay right before he took down Liston," Nas said a couple of weeks ago in New York. It's almost time for the release of his album Nigger, and he even teased us by dropping a couple of lines from the album backstage at New York's Hammerstein Ballroom before a recent concert.

"Ay, yo, Queens get the money, n---as still screaming paper chase/ But presidential candidates ... ," he began reciting, the first time any media outlet has heard lyrics from the upcoming album.

"But the new album, man, this is an important piece for me," he said. "I'm proud of myself for doing it and taking it on. It looks like Black History Month [February] is gonna be the month to drop the album. If not, it comes when it comes. But it'll be here soon — soon like right-around-the-corner soon. It's not gonna be a waiting-for-a-long-time type thing. I'm blessed to be in this state of mind I'm in to do this music. ... I love what this whole thing is all about. I'm working with so many people. It is a lot of people I'm working with: Puff, Jermaine [Dupri], some underground cats. Some surprises."

Maybe he'll be working with Snoop Dogg again. The Dogg — who appeared on Nas' last album, Hip Hop Is Dead — supports Nas' concept behind the controversially titled new album. "I'm down with you, Nas," Snoop saluted. "Call me if you need a verse."

Another West Coast legend, Ice Cube, is also down to collaborate with Nas. "I'm totally open to working with him," said Cube, who has the first great song and video of 2008 with "Gangsta Rap Made Me Do It." "I just got back in town, I'm looking for him to reach out. I think me and Nas are, in a lot of ways, mirror images of each other. We try to make street knowledge and connect the streets with the politics of today. That's always a challenge. If we don't get together [on his album], we gotta tour together." ...

There's no contest, according to Snoop Dogg: He can sing way better than his close friend Diddy.

"Right now, I got Puffy by a couple of notes," he smiled. "I think Puffy can just sing alto and tenor. But I can sing alto, tenor and soprano. I can sing any note."

Snoop's singing on "Sensual Seduction" has won everybody over, hands down. It's the first single from his next LP, Ego Trippin', due in March.

  Snoop Dogg
"There will be a couple of more songs where I express my R&B feel," he described of the album. "It feels good and sounds good. It's no stretch. I've always been singing melodies and riffs, but never no whole song. I've been making all kinds of songs, but I've never done anything like how I done [with 'Sensual Seduction']. I'm trying to mix it up and bring a variety of different looks [on the project], but there will be those type of Snoop songs you love."

The new song was written and produced by Shawty Red, who's most known for his work with Young Jeezy. "I initially wanted do a record where it's just based on me," he said about his original concept for the album. "But through the time making this record, I have a few guest appearances on here. The Ego Trippin' part is that I have allowed other artists to write songs for me. 'Sensual Seduction' was written and produced by Shawty Red from Atlanta. I usually don't accept songs from people. I do my own writing. I usually be ego tripping. [On this album], I'm trippin' to a certain extent, but I'm not."

The Dogg names producers Pharrell Williams and Teddy Riley as the LP's main contributors. "Pharrell is always going to be involved with what I do," he said. "Teddy Riley had the music game in his hand for 12 years straight. He knows how to create the atmosphere for a great artist and a big event. I feel like I'm a big artist and keep my albums in the classification of a big event. For me and him to work together, it's gonna be like Quincy Jones and Michael Jackson working together on that Thriller album." ...

Every time he tries to leave hip-hop, it keeps pullin' him back. Marley Marl's last-ever hip-hop album was supposed to be last year's Hip-Hop Lives with KRS-One, but the legendary producer and DJ has decided to stay in the game. There may even be another LP with the Blast Master coming.

"We're thinking about it," Marl said. "There were a lot of joints that didn't make the album that were dope to me. We know the politics behind the record business. You give them 11 or 12 joints, that's what you get paid for. You give them 21 joints, you only get paid for 12. There's a lot of joints in the can that didn't come out, so it's a possibility. But hey, Marley Marl might use those tracks on my next album. There's a lot of tracks in the can. As for [the Hip-Hop Lives album] that project, it did what it had to do. It was dope. I'm proud of that. We went on tour, we killed Europe, Asia, we even killed New York."

You know what else was dope? Marley's beats on LL Cool J's classic Mama Said Knock You Out. The two haven't worked together in nearly two decades, but L is back in the lab making his last album, Exit 13, for Def Jam. So what about a reunion for the two Queens pioneers?

"I would love to do it," Marley said. "But it's a lot of politics involved. When me and James Todd Smith made Mama Said Knock, there was a lot of people at the label telling him not to do it. It wouldn't work. But it blew up. If the opportunity presented itself, I'm there. But I think it's too much politics to make it happen. We can try to make it happen. If it happens, I'm good with it. If it doesn't, oh well. I know it goes down in history I made the hottest [LL] album. Every track."

  LL Cool J
"I don't think politics can stop that from happening," LL responded when we reached out to him. "I'm open to listening if Marley has something for me. With the creative process, I don't go with the politics; I try to make the best music — the music that's the most appropriate for where I'm at at that time. Of course I would be open to listening to what Marley got and his ideas. I'm always open to ideas."

LL, who was in Manhattan's Chung King studio working on his new album, went so far as to credit Marley as being a part of the building blocks of his career and life. Cool J also noted that he and Marley did collaborate not too long ago for a Keyshia Cole remix that was never released.

"It's just kind of like the business," Cool J continued about why they haven't done any more albums together. "No real reason. Both of us living our separate lives and moving around. But I would be open to working with my man. I love him."

Meanwhile, Marley is scoring the biopic for "The Wendy Williams Experience," a movie based on Williams' infamous radio show, and getting ready for the big-screen telling of the Juice Crew's origins and rise to fame. ...

DMX said that despite there being a whole new regime at Sony Music since he signed his deal in 2006 and released Year of the Dog, again to unsatisfactory results, he never considered staying with the company to see what Sony CEO Rick Rubin and his crew could do for him.

"Nah," said X, who recently inked a record deal with the independent Bodog Music. "You don't make the same mistake twice. I already made the mistake with Def Jam thinking they had good people in the office. The sh-- was supposed to be different. Not! God bless whoever's over there, but I'm good where I'm at. Bodog, it already has 'dog' in the name. What more can I ask for?"

X also told Mixtape Monday that he's owed a doghouse full of money from Sony but has decided to move on. "Man, I don't really give a f---," he sneered. "It was a blessing for me because it was a lesson for me. Feel me? But I peeped what n---as was trying to do, so I stepped a little more carefully around these mutha----as, because I know what their intentions are even though their words say something else.

"I came at [Sony] with 30 songs [already done]," he added, going back to 2006. "They said, 'Give us five new songs.' I said, 'All right, f--- it.' I hit 'em with fire. I said, 'I'll give them more fire.' The building heard the new songs, we were all amped about it. We decided on the single 'We in There.' They halfway sent [the song] out there. I asked my man what happened, he said, 'The song didn't leave the building right.' What the f--- does that mean? That's suspect!"

As MTV News reported last week, X's next project will actually be two albums dropping on the same day. Collectively, it's called Walk With Me Now, Fly With Me Later. The Walk With Me portion will be a traditional Dark Man X opus, while Fly With Me will be his first-ever gospel record. The Dog is also looking forward to filming the sequel to "Belly" whenever they can get it together.

"I'm waiting for my man Nas to come up with a script for part two," he said. "But it's whatever, man."

For other artists featured in Mixtape Mondays, check out Mixtape Mondays Headlines.

For a full-length feature on the role of mixtapes in the music industry, check out "Mixtapes: The Other Music Industry."

For other artists featured in Mixtape Mondays, check out Mixtape Mondays Headlines

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