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— by Shaheem Reid, with additional reporting by Rahman Dukes

DJ and Artist: E. Nyce and Lupe Fiasco

Representing: Chicago and NYC

Mixtape:Touch the Sky

411: Who can dispute Lupe Fiasco's claim of having the game wrapped up like "Thundercats" villain Mumra (the ever ever liviiiing!)? The Chicago native has already racked up Grammy nominations for his behind-the-scenes work on Beyoncé's Dangerously in Love's LP, launched his own sneaker with Reebok and scored a major guest spot on Kanye's "Touch the Sky" song, video and tour. Oh yeah — Jay-Z will be the executive producer of Lupe's Food and Liquor, his debut LP, which is due June 27 on Atlantic. Yes, "debut": He's had two prior label deals (with Epic and Arista) and has done all of this without putting out an album. Haters, get on your job.

Lupe's buzz has been chiefly built on his Fahrenheit 1/15 mixtape series, which he's been releasing for free on the Internet over the past couple of years. He's teamed up with DJ E. Nyce to put together some of the best selections from his mixtapes, as well as a few joints you've never heard before. Fiasco breaks it down for us.

Joints To Check For:

  • "The Pen and the Needlz." "That was produced by my man Needlz, that's why I named it what I did," Lupe explained. "It's actually an original record. He couldn't clear the sample, so he was like 'Lupe, I'll never clear this sample so let's do this record [for the streets].' It was so hard, I just bodied it. ... What did he sample? Good question. I think it was something from Marvin Gaye."


  • "Dead Presidents Resurrected." "I did this song when I was still signed to Arista," he said. "I rapped over the 'Dead Presidents' instrumentals. That was one of my shining moments."


  • "Spray Paint and Ink Pens" featuring Ghostface and Mike Shinoda. "That was real heavy," Fiasco said. "I did that to pay homage to graffiti artists. Like 'What if graffiti artists could rap? What would they rap about?' And I ran that whole concept. That record was insane."


Don't Sleep: Other Notable Selections This Week

  • DJ Eleven and Spitkicker's Fight Music: The Best of M.O.P.
  • J Period and C.L. Smooth's Man on Fire: The Freestyle Sessions
  • OG Ron C's Straight Gangsta: Volume Three
  • Boot Camp Click's "Video Surveillance" DVD


'Hood's Heavy Rotation: Bubbling Below The Radar
  • "Yay Area" and "U and Dat" by E-40
  • "What's Beef" by Raekwon, Busta Rhymes and Labba
  • "What They Like to Hear" by Rashad
  • "Ice Cream Man" by DJ Green Lantern featuring Pharrell




Celebrity Faves

  T-Pain
T-Pain says that before he released his hit "I'm in Love With a Stripper," his favorite strip-club anthem was Tela and UGK's "Sho Nuff." And Pain's favorite place to see girls dance is Diamonds in Miami.

"It's not just a strip club," he says. "They got the most stuff in there. They got a barbershop in there in the back. They've got the baddest barber, Barber J. Then they have a basketball court next to the barbershop. Yeah, a basketball court in the strip club. Then you leave the basketball court and go to a weight room after that. You go in and be like, 'Oh my God!' "

The Streets Is Talking: News & Notes From The Underground

  Fabolous
"He threw a jab and I threw a jab and uppercut," Fabolous said of his responses to Mase on the latest street CD Loso's Way, a double mixtape of original songs and freestyles by Fab and his street Street "Fididddiddddam!" (i.e. Fam).

Fab said that not too long ago, Mase approached him in Philadelphia and told him that things were all good. According to Loso, Pastor Betha even said he "appreciated" Fab as an artist. The two shook hands, and that was that. So imagine how Fabolous felt when he heard Mase dissing him soon after on a G-Unit mixtape.

"For you [Mase] to say that to me and the next time I hear you on record, [you're dissing me], I feel dude is confused," Fab said. "If you're not really a killer but you running with a bunch of dudes that say they're killers, I guess you're gonna talk like you a killer too, even if it's not believable. I think [Mase] got caught up in trying to act like the people he's around. 50 Cent and them is known for taking jabs and saying wild, reckless stuff. I guess he felt he had to jump in those shoes too. I just had to answer to it."

Fab explained that he got tired of people coming up to him in the street and asking what he was going to do with Mase's line on "I Don't Know, Officer" ("I don't know why Loon and Fabby won't just say I'm their daddy"), so he got back at him on the mixtape. Another question Fab has been asked incessantly is which label he's signed to. Well, the questions can stop now: Fabolous has left Atlantic Records to move over to Def Jam. The deal is official, and Fab is getting in the studio ASAP to record his new album. ...

  Clipse
The Clipse thank the Lord for mixtapes. Recording their We Got It for Cheap street CD series with the Re-Up Gang has not only been therapeutic but a great means of making a living while they've stewed in record-contract purgatory. Pusha T and Malice are making the most of that "For Promotional Use Only" disclaimer.

The Virginia Beach-bred brothers have booked shows on the strength of their street releases. They recently hit New York's Knitting Factory for a performance where just about every audience member knew all the words to their underground records.

The Clipse's strong following helped them make the decision to settle their differences with Jive Records. They have agreed to put out the long-awaited Hell Hath No Fury, due late this summer.

"It's time to put that album out now," Malice said while he and his younger brother Pusha T were in New York. "Hip-hop is dying right now. It's not exciting anymore. No one's really talking about anything that makes any sense. It's just one big circus right now."

  Pharrell Williams
After years of legal battles with Jive Records, the brothers are content with their label situation. The Clipse say Pharrell Williams and Star Trak offered Jive the world (including free Neptunes beats) in exchange for the Clipse's release from their contract. But the label wouldn't budge. Once the Clipse started making a buzz with the Re-Up Gang, Jive held them even tighter. Eventually Jive had to come up with some more dough for the group as well as offer the Clipse their own imprint, Re-Up Gang Records. (Subsequently, the Clipse are no longer with Star Trak, but remain very cool with the Neptunes).

During their hiatus, the Clipse say that they had a chance to analyze the rap game and found out that they really didn't like any label better than Jive, so they decided to stay. "It's not just Jive," Pusha T explained. "I can look at few of my peers that I think are nice and have good music, and the ball gets fumbled all the time."

The Clipse describe the feel of Hell Hath as pure throwback. "Fly East Coast dope-dealer music," Pusha elaborated. "Only thing we're missing is four-finger rings and gold ropes.

"It's better than anything and anybody ever," he continued with a grin. "We only took the greatest and most unorthodox production. We weren't playing with Pharrell. We were harder on the Neptunes than anybody has ever been. No album fillers. It's very street, very dark, mean."

Hell Hath's first single is called "Me Too," and it's being mixed right now. It should show up on mixtapes and in mix shows within the next couple of weeks.

"It's the total disruption of radio," Pusha boasted. "There's nothing on radio that will even be close to it. It just addresses Mr. Me Toos. Mr. Me Too is the person that sits there and examines your style and takes a piece of it. It addresses the competitive dude on the street who, when you get this or that they're like, 'Me too.' " Pusha said the track also touches on some of what they went through with their label. "Briefly," he explained, " 'cause we don't dwell." ...

  Jay-Z
Jay-Z confirms that the rumors of 50 Cent working with Roc-A-Fella artist Freeway on Free's new LP are 100 percent true. Although 50 and Jay's schedules don't allow them to be in the studio at the same time, Hov explained the working relationship, saying that 50 and Jay will each work with Freeway separately.

"[50] actually submitted two songs last week that are outrageous," President Carter said. "Now I have to go do my thing, I have to do my work. Then Free benefits from everything."

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



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

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