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Fire Starter: Lil' Mama
Harlem, New York's teen stomp continues in the '07. Last year DJ Webstar and Young B — who is very young indeed — were repping for the underaged with "Chicken Noodle Soup." This year, we're starting off with 16-year-old Lil' Mama, who grew up in Harlem and Brooklyn and has the underground record "Lip Gloss" sizzlin'. "They said my lip gloss is cool, my lip gloss is poppin'," she brags on the song. Apparently the boys at her school aren't the only ones jockin' Mama: She signed a deal with Jive Records less than a week ago.

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— Shaheem Reid and Jayson Rodriguez, with additional reporting by Rahman Dukes and Bridget Bland

Producer : Smack

Representing: All over

DVD: "Smack 12"

411: Smack is back, but according to him, things have done changed in the street-DVD world. "It ain't the same, like how it used to be back in the day," said Troy Mitchell, known in the hip-hop community as Smack. For the last five years, he has been the producer and personality behind the popular video series "Smack."

Last year, falling back from releasing his street DVDs unofficially, he released "Smack" — along with a soundtrack — officially for the first time, through Koch Records. He returns to the streets this week with the latest installment of his series, "Smack 12."

"A lot of the major independent retailers done shut down," he added about his lucrative hustle, which spawned a million copycats. "The bootleggers took over the streets. It's crazy out there. It ain't really a lot of money out there like how it used to be."

So why not release the DVD through Koch? "I just wanted to stay grounded, stay close to the consumers and show them I'm still catering to the streets," he answered. "I never wanna forget where I came from, so I wanted to throw one out there and let them know I'm still here."

Smack says he's launching his Web site in March, and on it you'll be able to see DVD footage he's been saving. And then there's that network deal he's working on. No papers are signed yet, but he says he has some offers on the table.

Joints To Check For:

  • "Busta Rhymes Segment." "Busta, he's ill," Smack said. "He's talking about all the situations that's been surrounding him lately, letting all the people know where he's coming from, from his point of view. We went out there to Houston with him and got some footage of him performing, showing the hip-hop world how to do a real performance. It's a real good look for Bus. He talks about certain situations, how he feels he's being harassed, being picked on by the NYPD. Little things like that."

  • "Ludacris Segment." "We shot Luda down there in the ATL," Smack said. "We got up with Luda a couple of times, to tell you the truth. He was doing charity basketball games. [Disturbing Tha Peace] had a charity basketball game against G-Unit and I think they ... beat G-Unit by three points. He's raising proceeds for different charities he's involved with [including his own Ludacris Foundation]. We also got up with him for [Young] Jeezy's birthday party. Jeezy ripped it down. It's a good piece. But during the interview Luda is basically letting people know what he's been up to: the little controversy between him and Oprah, he breaks down how he resolved the conflict with him and T.I., why he's no longer working with Chingy. It's a lot of different stuff."

  • "Jim Jones and Freaky Zeeky Segment." "Freaky just came home from [prison], him and Jim are basically showing you why hip-hop ain't dead," Smack explained. "They are bringing it in front of your eyes, why they feel hip-hop ain't dead. Freaky and Jim Jones are about to get back in the studio. Freaky is ready to get back at it — he's home from [prison] and has a new deal with Asylum Records."

Don't Sleep: Other Notable Selections This Week
  • Uncle Murda - Respect the Shooter
  • DJ L-Gee & D Lyfe - One Crip, One Blood: Snoop Dogg & The Game
  • DJ Scream & Al Gator - Un-Reasonable Doubt
  • DJ Kay Slay, Mo Pacino and DJ Jack Da Rippa - Lyrical Warfare
  • DJ Lil Raskal - Teachers Pet
  • Big Mike and Nu Jerzey Devil - American Gangstas #3
  • DJ Envy & Tapemasters Inc. - Down & Dirty Pt. 2: Purple Codeine
  • Various artists - "All Access: The DVD Magazine #14" (street DVD)

Click here for more of Mixtape Monday ...

'Hood's Heavy Rotation: Bubbling Below The Radar
  • John Legend - "Heaven" remix (featuring Pusha T)
  • Fat Joe - "Make It Rain" remix (featuring R. Kelly, Lil Wayne, Baby, T.I., Rick Ross and Ace Mack)
  • Chris Brown - "Poppin' " remix (featuring Lil Wayne)
  • UGK - "Cocaine" (featuring Rick Ross)

Celebrity Faves

N.O.R.E. just recorded "Greenlight," his first song in three years with longtime partner Capone. The track also features the rapper's friend Final Chapter. N.O.R.E. is working on the rest of his Global Warming LP in Miami with his newly hired A&R rep, DJ EFN. He's also back hard on New York radio and in clubs with another new record, "My Name is N.O.," which samples the beat from D-Nice's "Call Me D-Nice."

"I just spoke to D-Nice and he's actually going to give me the original beat, the reel, to it [for the remix]," N.O.R.E. said. "And he gave me confirmation he's gonna get on the remix for me. That's one of the most hardcore records to come out in hip-hop ever, period. I used to see D-Nice and say, 'I'mma redo your record,' and I finally got the opportunity to do it."

The Streets Is Talking: News & Notes From The Underground

Common has been on tracks with some of the best MCs ever, but he says he was pushed to the limit by one of the most prophetic and inspirational speakers in world history: Martin Luther King Jr.

Last week Com talked about working with Will.I.Am on the song "A Dream" from the movie "Freedom Writers," which Will also scored. Fittingly, the track and video are being released not just in conjunction with the movie but also around the time the nation celebrates King's birthday.

"Will had the beat pretty much hooked up, but once he started putting the Dr. Martin Luther King sample on there, it took me to a whole spiritual high level," Common said. "The movie was already inspiring, but to be on a song with Martin Luther King, I had to write to the best of my ability. Ain't no playing when you have Martin Luther King on there."

  Martin Luther King Jr.
The song has samples of King reciting his legendary "I Have a Dream" speech. Common says his genre of music is helping to keep the dream alive.

"I remember when Dr. King talked about white men and black men, Protestants and Catholics, Jews and Gentiles, just people coming together," the Chicago MC said. "I think that hip-hop is part of that Martin Luther King dream. Hip-hop is a bridge to bring people together. ... At my concerts it's white kids, Latino kids, Asian kids sharing the same experience. I think hip-hop is bringing people together."

In other Common news, "Smokin' Aces" — his feature-film debut — comes out at the end of the month, and he says to look for his seventh LP, Finding Forever, in the spring. Last week, Kanye West told MTV News that although the album is turning out magnificently, Com has been very picky when it comes to selecting West-produced tracks. In fact, Common says his persnickety ways sparked a line on Kanye's next album.

"He says something regarding me not taking them beats," Com said, laughing it off.

"I don't second-guess myself when it comes to that," he added about the beat selection. "Kanye was in the studio last night and he was telling people, 'Man, half the records I sent out this year for other people, I made for Common first.' I was like, 'Yeah, that might be true.' " Common and Kanye have agreed on several beats, however, and 'Ye is producing the bulk of Finding Forever. ...

Last week on the set of the video for "Can't Forget About You," Nas was pretty upfront about wanting to start work on a new album for this year. And although no one can front on the collaborations he had on Hip Hop Is Dead with the likes of producers Will.I.Am and Dr. Dre, there is one track king fans are longing to hear God's Son work with one more time: DJ Premier.

"Premier has been in the game a long time," Nas explained. "He's seasoned on many levels. He likes to get a vibe going [in the studio], as do I. I was racing time, and I felt like Premier. ... As I was waiting to get in with him, I was getting songs done.

"I think [the collaboration] is gonna happen, because internationally, people want that," Nas added.

In fact, Nas said that, on his next album, he would love to have Premier, as well as more production from Will and Dre.

"I don't know how to characterize it," he said about the yet-to-be-made LP. "It's just gonna be ... I'm not gonna play around."

While the Nas/Preem reunion is pending, the legendary MC did rejoin forces with some familiar faces over the holidays. During shows in New York and Philadelphia, Ill Will signee Quan (2004's "Just a Moment") and former Firm members Cormega and Foxy Brown came onstage and performed with him.

"It's been years since I seen Foxy Brown and the rest of the Firm," Nas said of his former all-star squad. "AZ is always around, but the rest of them, it's hard to get to. But this time around, man, I think they felt it was cool. ... For whatever reason, I felt like reaching out, and they was cool. They responded, so I was happy about that. To bring them back on the set, I just saw them that day. I ain't see them in years. But I saw them that day and we knocked it out."

As for a full-blown Firm reunion, let's not jump the gun just yet.

"I don't know," Nas said about whether the concert performances could lead to more recording. "I wanted to start off with the show and see where it went from there, to tell you the truth. Foxy's dope. 'Mega is dope, so who knows." ...

  Royce Da 5'9"
Is he in jail or not? That seems to be the question everyone is asking about Royce Da 5'9" these days. The Detroit rapper was originally knocked on a parole violation for a DUI charge and sentenced to prison in September. Now Royce is out on work release, according to the MC and his camp. Two joints that leaked a couple of weeks ago, "Dream" and "Return of Malcolm," prove the Nine Nickel hasn't lost his edge. But in an interview with MTV News, he did admit that his experience behind bars and as a father have altered his perspective a bit.

"You're gonna see the growth," Royce revealed of what to expect from his new material. "I got out and had some stuff on my mind. I'm almost 30 now. I got kids. I'm still gonna keep it gutter. But what I do outside the booth is gonna far outweigh what I say inside."

In the meantime, Royce just finished spitting vocals for his upcoming mixtape, The Bar Exam, with DJ Statik Selektah. Statik is putting the finishing touches on the project and DJ Premier is set to host. Preem's also slated to executive produce Royce's next album, contributing up to six tracks and helping pick beats.

So far only Carlos "Six July" Broady has been confirmed to work on the yet-titled LP. Royce said he's playing with a couple of names at the moment, but he's only a third of the way through the album and isn't ready to lock in a title — or label to release the LP — just yet.

Royce also said he's heard the same rumors as everybody else about Nas wanting to sign him to his Def Jam imprint, the Jones Experience, but he explained no meetings with any labels have taken place yet.

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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Photo: MTV News

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