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Fire Starter:
Keri Lynn Hilson

She's a looker, but being sexy is just one of Keri Lynn Hilson's many blessings. The 23-year-old Decatur, Georgia, artist can also sing and write, and she's co-signed by the two hottest producers in the game right now — Timbaland and Polow the Don, who will be co-executive producing her debut LP this year. Hilson describes her climb up the ranks of the music industry as a long nine-year grind, but along the way, she's quietly become a successful songwriter, authoring records for Ciara, Chris Brown and Danity Kane. Her three biggest credits, though, have probably been on Mary J. Blige's "Take Me as I Am"; Ludacris' "Runaway Love" (featuring Blige; Hilson wrote the hook); and Omarion's monster smash, "Ice Box." As a singer, Hilson recently appeared on Diddy's Press Play LP, but her biggest look was as the hook singer on Lloyd Banks' "Help."

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

DJs: Mick Boogie and Terry Urban, the Frank White Collective and DJ Vlad

Representing: Biggie, Brooklyn, the best!

Mixtapes: The Frank White Collective's The March 9 Mixtape, Boogie and Urban's Unbelievable: A Tribute to Biggie Smalls and Vlad's Hot in Here 8: All-Star Edition

411: It's a lot this week — so much that we had to give you three main picks. In the last edition of Mixtape Monday, we told you all about how Mister Cee was releasing his own Best of Biggie this week; now we have more Big coming. Two more mixtapes are paying homage to Frank White, and both capture DJs actually going into the studio and acting like producers, blending Big's vocals with original and already-famous beats. With Friday having been the 10-year anniversary of his death, the timing is perfect. But isn't it always perfect timing when you hear Biggie?

And since we're talking skills, let's throw in Vlad the Butcher. He doesn't have anything Big-related, but we decided to give his latest some shine, given the strength of his now world-renowned Butcher Blends.

Joints To Check For:

  • "N---az Bleed (Streiht Up Remix)" from The March 9 Mixtape. "The goal of March 9 was to bring B.I.G.'s dark storytelling to life with sinister beats that would enhance the stories," detailed one of the project's two DJs, who are asking to remain nameless. " 'N---az Bleed' is a great example because it is one of Big's illest gangster stories, so we paired the vocals with one of the illest gangster beats of all time, MC Eiht's 'Streiht Up Menace.' That beat captures the essence of 'Menace II Society' and is so powerful, and you would never imagine Big rhyming on it, but it works — and it completely changes his rhyme and makes it sound like a new song. After we paired it with the beat, we actually went in like a movie sound engineer and laced the backdrop with sound effects to help illustrate the story even further, almost like B.I.G. is narrating a movie. The result really demonstrates how vivid the man's imagination was, and how well he could paint a picture with words."

  • "Escape From New York" (featuring Prodigy) from Unbelievable: A Tribute to Biggie Smalls. " 'Escape From New York' was one of my favorite Pete Rock beats from back in the day, and Big had that classic '90s sound," Boogie said. "So it just made sense. Adding Mobb Deep made it better.

  • "You Don't Know" from Vlad's Hot in Here 8: All-Star Edition. "I blended Eminem and 50's 'You Don't Know' with Lil Scrappy's 'Gangsta Gangsta,' " the Butcher said. "I messed around with the choruses, so 50 and Scrappy are playing off each other's words. I try to match the feel of the two songs; both were real aggressive. I just put them together on some creative sh--. But hey ... whatever works."

Don't Sleep: Other Notable Selections This Week
  • DJ Woogie, Hot Rod and DJ Front - The Pre-Fast Lane
  • Brandi Garcia - Brandi Garcia's Southern Stiletto's R&B, Hosted by Monica
  • J-LP - Hustler Talk Volume One
  • DNA - The Chain Remains: Rebirth of a Dynasty
  • DJ G-Spot - Midwest Invasion 4
  • Suge White - Killa's Collabs

Click here for more of Mixtape Monday ...

'Hood's Heavy Rotation: Bubbling Below The Radar
  • Omarion (featuring Usher) - "Ice Box" remix
  • Fabolous (featuring Ne-Yo) - "Make Me Better"
  • Ja Rule - "Style on Em"
  • Devin the Dude (featuring Snoop Dogg and Andre 3000) - "What a Job"
  • Joe Budden - "Last Real N---a Left"
  • Raekwon - "Fly Poetry"
  • Prodigy (featuring Nate Dogg) - "Bang on 'Em"
  • Paul Wall (featuring Jermaine Dupri) - "I'm Throwed"
  • Lloyd - "I Don't Mind"

Celebrity Faves

  DJ Drama
Like the rest of us, mixtape king DJ Drama has been celebrating the life and music of Notorious B.I.G. during the 10th anniversary of the late rapper's death. Then again, most of us celebrate Biggie all year long, don't we? Dram says there are a couple of essential Big records he plays for different occasions.

" 'Juicy' is for the clubs," he said. "I don't care what age, region or class you are — if you're at a party and that song comes on, you better sing along word for word! The ultimate hip-hop party record. Then 'Who Shot Ya' is one of my favorite street records. Classic Biggie. [That was] when Biggie was at his early peak.

"Then you have 'Buddy' by Musiq Soulchild," he added. "I love that song!"

The Streets Is Talking: News & Notes From The Underground

  Jim Jones
Jim Jones is currently on the road with his friends Cash Money, Fat Joe, the Dipset and the Byrd Gang, but the Capo is always thinking about his next hustle — which, in this case, is a new album. Coming off his most successful single ever, "We Fly High," Jones is looking to ride off that momentum with a fresh LP, maybe as early as the end of this year.

"I been thinking about my next album, thinking about the music I wanna hear, the production," he said last week at his offices in Manhattan, New York. "All my albums been about my life, so I'm not worried about the content. I'm living fast, having fun, so it's always a story to tell. But I been thinking about the music — the production, where I want to take it. Every album I've evolved or I've felt like I've evolved. I don't know if everybody else felt like that, but I wanna take them all the way there next time. ... I'm not trying to offend nobody, but y'all know what I am capable of.

"Right now I would like to get a Timbaland beat," he added about who he would like to have produce. "That's something I been thinking about for years. The boy got it! Let me get some of that Timbaland music. I'm just trying to have fun."

Some of his fun is coming literally at the expense of his peers. Performers such as DJ Unk and Rich Boy are shelling out dough to get Jim on their remixes.

"It feels good, me getting called to get on people's records is amazing," he said. "I hope they keep calling."

Of course you know we weren't going to let our talk with Capo end without getting his thoughts on the 50 Cent and Cam'ron verbal tussle.

"I been telling people that this music game is built on aggressive competition," he rationalized. "Just like basketball is a full contact sport. Sometime you might catch a elbow or a little foul pick. Most people that play the sport, they kill each other on the courts, afterwards it's all good. If that's the direction we going in, I'm good with it.

"Cam could never do no wrong in my eyes," he continued. "If that's how he's feeling, that's how he's feeling. That's my brother. But it was two dons going at it — 50 and Cam — nobody else got in it. It's all good. Me, I'm into my money." ...

  Rick Ross
Rick Ross already showed you what the other side of Miami was like last year on his debut album, Port of Miami. But the Boss told us that, with his Carol City Cartel clique, he's really gonna show us what it's like once you cross that bridge and leave South Beach. The collective features Ross, Torch — a Bronx, New York, transplant Rick Ross has dubbed the group's lyricist — and Gun Play, who describes himself as "ODB, but younger."

"[Triple C] is gonna give you that raw, gritty, down-South feeling," Ross said of Black Flag, the group's upcoming offering. "Once you hear the chemistry of the group, you'll see what makes it so special. [Black Flag is] like a real group album, not just a bunch of dudes rapping 16 bars to a beat. From the concepts to the chorus to the verses, everything is intertwined. We bringing you Miami in full effect."

The Florida collective has already nabbed Yung Joc, 8Ball, Young Jeezy and Junior Reid for the project so far, but Ross said to expect to hear Jay-Z and a few more heavy hitters on the finished version. Ross said he hopes to drop Black Flag after he puts out his sophomore album, Trilla, later on this year. "We just bubbling in the studio right now, but I'm gonna have Triple C on four or five cuts on Trilla, then after that Black Flag on top of that."

The Miami mayor said he's fielding offers for Triple C right now through his own company 6'1 Entertainment in conjunction with Poe Boy Entertainment, but expects to have a deal in place soon. After that, Ross has plans to unveil his documentary "M.I. Yayo." "We all going in the same direction," Ross explained about his business ventures. ...

  Little Brother
Maybe Durham, North Carolina's Little Brother should move to Philadelphia to learn about brotherly love. First MCs Phonte and Big Pooh announced they were parting ways with 9th Wonder, and now in recent interviews the two have been laying out criticisms for their former producer. They've been questioning his decision to work outside the group and the quality of his beats for LB's third effort, Getback. "The uniqueness of what he had was gone," Pooh told North Carolina's The Independent Weekly. 9th has kept quiet so far and didn't want to go into much detail with Mixtape Monday regarding the riff, which he instead described as a cordial split. But he did offer that the trio would work together on his solo debut album, The Wonder Years, set to be released this summer through Asylum Records, which he has a new deal with. "The thing about our uniqueness being gone, that's not only an LB thing. It's an accessibility thing."

9th explained that not everyone who knew of him through LB knew of his outside work, whether it was collabo projects — he recently worked on Buckshot and Jean Grae's new LPs — or his production work with Mary J. Blige. "Some people come up to me now still and are like, 'When did you do the project with Buckshot?' If you don't know about it, it doesn't exist."

Now 9th is balancing his project with teaching duties at his alma matter, North Carolina Central University, and production work with Erykah Badu, among others. "I been leaning toward R&B recently," the producer said. ...

  Collie Budz
The herbs come around ... and so do the MCs. Just like people in the streets, Busta Rhymes and Young Buck are digging Collie Buddz's smoker anthem, "Come Around." Bus had planned to throw out an unofficial remix to the reggae star's record, but when Budz caught wind of those plans, he decided to make the song an official event. Now Bus and G-Unit's Young Buck will get on it.

"Busta hopped on it first and then we decided to get Young Buck on it," Buddz said last week in New York. "When Busta jumped on it, we had no idea. I think [New York DJ] Kaz One was playing it and Busta must've called and said, 'I need an instrumental.' So he sent him the instrumental and two days later he had a remix and Kaz played it. So we had no idea. I was real excited."

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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