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Fire Starter: Red Grant
He's got next in the comedy world. Grant got his first major exposure on BET's "Comic View," but getting in good with Katt Williams is going to make the Los Angelino a household name very soon, no doubt. Grant was featured on Williams' Pimp Chronicles Tour last year, and for Williams' Pimp Chronicles 2 Tour this year, Red Grant will host as well as do his skits, which tackle everything from hip-hop to love making. Even his laugh is funny.

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— Shaheem Reid and Jayson Rodriguez, with additional reporting by Rahman Dukes and Jasmine Dotiwala

Artists: Prodigy and Alchemist

Representing: Queensbridge, New York, and Los Angeles

Mixtape: Prodigy's Return of the Mac, produced by Alchemist

411: Alchemist says that even when fans or the industry lose faith in Mobb Deep, his boys never flinch — they know their talents and are always poised for a comeback. "P's been doing it, he's been through so many different chambers of rhyming, fathered so many styles, been so inventive," he began explaining about Prodigy's mental state for the new mixtape Return of the Mac. "I don't think he's trying to top anything he's done, he's just having fun trying to represent where he is right now with life. I'm loving how [Return of the Mac] came out. It was a opportunity for us to show that P is still that dude. It didn't really come across in the last Mobb album for one reason or another."

Alchemist produced all the beats, which were built with '70s soul samples, while Prodigy did all the rhyming. The two are also working on Prodigy's official solo album, H.N.I.C.2., for later this year.

"Just his vocal tone alone, he's the sh--," added Al, who was in Cali working with (+44) drummer Travis Barker. "P is a survivor, Mobb Deep are survivors. That's what I've been learning with them and their career, the longevity, the deals they've had. They come out, get fronted on, come back, blow up. They've got a pattern about them where they always come back after what they've had what is not considered a successful album. So being that the last Mobb album didn't go over that crazy, P is letting me know it's nothing. 'We survivors.' Same thing for [Prodigy's Mobb Deep partner, Havoc]. Hav's album is crazy."

Joints To Check For:

  • "Take It to the Top." "[A friend of mine] from Japan came through, he had crazy records," Al said. "He really inspired me when I was out there, and he came to New York. This was one of the records he brought. It was P spazzin'. It's a lot going on in the sample. It's more energy. We looped it up. P wrote to it real fast. The standout line, he said, 'I douse you, you'll have different colors leaking out you/ Like red, yellow and white/ You got some stomach on your Nikes.' He said, 'You got some stomach on your Nikes!' He's real graphic, real cinematic. He's dope. P is always good for that type of sh--."

  • "The Rotten Apple." "It's probably my favorite record," Al said. "It was the theme of New York throughout the record, unconsciously. It wasn't like we were trying to bring New York back. It was like, 'Let's make it sound like it was conceived in New York, the sound of New York, how we wanna hear it.' P has a concept for a video that's real cutting edge. The song has a feeling to it. It's basically saying, 'Rotten apple made me like this, I don't give a f---.' New York made him how he is. It gives me the feel of the old New York, how I envisioned it in the early '80s and '70s."

  • "Last Words." "We did a CD just for Circuit City and it has three bonus records on it," Al said. "You have 'My Priorities,' a song with me and Hav called 'That's That,' and 'Last Words' with P and Kokane. 'Last Words' is the last bonus song too. It's almost like he's on his death bed, he's like, 'To my family, forgive me for not being a father/ Daddy was involved in a lot.' Kinda like a mob boss on his death bed. He's explaining to his family, 'It's over now, but this is what it was.' That was just for the bonus [edition]. It was one we had in the stash and it fit."

Don't Sleep: Other Notable Selections This Week
  • DJ Bijal and Tony Yayo - The World Is Not Enough

  • J-Love - Street Savior

  • DJ Lex - RNB in the 90's, Volume Four

  • ChiChi Glacierz - Introduction 2 Chi

  • DJ Jack Da Rippa - Back to the East

  • DJ Kurupt & Paul Cain - The Wrath of Cain

  • DJ Wreck - The Game Is Not Over, Part 2

Click here for more of Mixtape Monday ...

'Hood's Heavy Rotation: Bubbling Below The Radar
  • LL Cool J (featuring 50 Cent) - "Don't Take It Personal"

  • Skillz - "Crazy World"

  • DJ Jazzy Jeff (featuring Peedi Crakk) - "Brand New Funk 2K7"

  • David Banner - "K.O."

  • Redman - "Gimme One"

Celebrity Faves

WWE Diva Ashley has made it from the ring to the Playboy mansion. On April 1 at Detroit's Ford Field, she will reach the pinnacle of her very young wrestling career when she takes on current WWE Women's Champion Melina for the title at Wrestlemania 23 — and adult fans can check her out in the current issue of Playboy. The self-proclaimed "Dirty Diva" said that if she had her way and could take similar pictures of any rapper, she'd pick 50 Cent. "I'm thinking aesthetically, if I'm on the other side of the camera," she said. "He has the six pack."

The Streets Is Talking: News & Notes From The Underground

You don't really see this anymore: three of New York's premiere MCs rapping together onstage for the love of each other and the love of rap. Some classic footage floating around the Internet features Method Man, Nas and Notorious B.I.G. together at a club in an onstage cipher.

"At that time we were the only voices coming from New York to bring New York where it was," Nas said, describing how the night unfolded. "At that time it was [about] respect for each other. Not like today. Back then, we knew what it was all about. I would be at Biggie's house talking about what we would do when we made it. That n---a would come to Queensbridge and we'd be talking about everything from a robbery to what we gonna do when we get platinum.

"Big would jump in the back in one of my cars," Nas continued about his relationship with the late King of NYC. "I would jump in the back of one of his n---as' cars and we would ride out. We didn't plan to hit the stage that night. Sh-- just happened. We was in the car, we came to the club together. We came to chill out but once n---as seen us in the VIP [area], n---as shined the spotlight on us. The promoter begged us to get up there on the stage and rhyme." ...

  Jay-Z and Ne-Yo
They don't call Jay-Z the Big Homie for nothing. Besides helping the artists with their musical endeavors under his watch at Def Jam, he also gives them advice on how to deal with fame. One artist in particular, Ne-Yo, says he had to have a talk with Jay to address a certain rumor that was starting to get out of control.

"Well, there was the whole question of my sexuality, it took Jay-Z and a couple of other people to really sit me down and say, 'Relax, OK?' " the singer said from England during a recent trip. "It's not the end of the world, it's happened to everyone. It happened to Jay! It is whatever. You have got to take the good with the bad and it is what it is."

Ne-Yo says he's heard a separate rumor about being linked to labelmate Rihanna.

"The whole Rihanna rumor is absolutely that, a rumor," he said. "Rihanna is beautiful, and before I worked with her, I did have a little crush on her, but once you work with these people ... I get so close to them, because you kind of got to get into this person's mind to write an accurate song for them. So you get to know a person like that and you fall into that friend zone. That brother-sister-type zone. Rihanna is like a sister to me. But to clear the rumors up, we are really, really good friends. We are very, very close to where she could burp in front of me." ...

  Swizz Beatz
It seems like it's been remix season as of late. Jim Jones tapped T.I., Diddy, Juelz Santana, Baby and Young Dro for "We Fly High"; and then Fat Joe called in R. Kelly, Lil Wayne, T.I. (again), Ace Mack, Baby and Rick Ross for "Make It Rain." And everyone was on Game's remix to "One Blood."

So when Swizz Beatz decided to flip the script for his latest, "It's Me Bitches," the producer had to put in some thought to decide who could really take his track to the next level. He was hush on exactly who he has in mind but spoke to Mixtape Monday about putting the track together.

"I want it to have the excitement and impact of the original," he explained last week during a photo shoot in Brooklyn, New York. "If I can't do it unpredictable, I don't want to do it. R. Kelly is the only predictable [guest], but it's not predictable what he's gonna be doing on [the remix]."

With so many new remixes featuring the same few people, Swizz joked, "They might as well all do an album together." He got verses from the same dudes too but said he had to turn them all down eventually. "I like them all, but what's gonna make my remix do what the others didn't do?" he asked. "I'm trying to make mine so big it's hard to get those three or four people together on set at the same time to do a video."

Turns out, Swizz tapped not only the R, but Lil Wayne as well. Both give a little Caribbean twang to the new record.

Swizz was also talking to Cassidy. The producer said his protégé has been working with Scott Storch lately, and the Philly rapper also recently appeared onstage with the Roots during one of their tour stops.

"He was in the hospital for some time, and before that he was in jail, so I just want him to really go out there and enjoy himself," Swizz told Mixtape. The Monster also wants to go in heavy with his Ruff Ryder affiliates, Jadakiss and the rest of the LOX. He's lobbying to jump off with the LOX project, but he's still unsure which one is gonna hit the streets first at this point. "I think the LOX album is more important right now," he said. "They got a couple of things. But they still working." ...

It looks like Chopper is on the move again. The former "Making the Band 2" star phoned into Mixtape and said his deal with Cash Money fell through. According to Chopper, the two sides couldn't agree on the value of the deal.

"It was money to survive for a second, but not money to be comfortable promoting your own album when you have crazy-ass bills to pay," he explained. "And you look at the money like, 'I already got that in my account.' Shout out to them, but the situation just didn't work out. It would have been a great look, no doubt."

Now, the onetime Bad Boy South artist is a free agent again and has signed a production contract with Diamond Cut Entertainment in hopes of inking a direct deal with Universal. He's finished his album Ca$h M.O.E., but before he begins negotiating any more deals, the New Orleans rapper has some legal cases he needs to wrap up. Chopper was already on bail for a robbery incident that happened when he was 16, and he was recently arrested and charged with aggravated assault over an argument he had with his girlfriend. He denied reports a knife was pulled out in the altercation saying, "Me and my baby mama had a little tiny argument and people call the police on me 'cause they know my background," Chopper said. "They try to keep me down, but I keep bouncing back."

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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