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Fire Starter: Cheri Dennis

She's sexy and can sing too. Diddy's hoping Cheri's pipes can re-establish his Bad Boy label in the R&B realm. The Cleveland native's "I Love You" is making people hit the dace floors, and her self-titled LP drops this summer.




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— Shaheem Reid, with additional reporting by Rahman Dukes

Artist: Proof

Representing: Detroit

Mixtape: Big Proof and Iron Fist Records Presents ... Hand 2 Hand

411: If you go to Detroit, you can ask anyone about Motown rap and they'll tell you Proof was the mayor of the city's hip-hop scene. He worked quietly behind the scenes and helped up-and-coming artists like Trick Trick get signed, and you already know the history of how instrumental he was to Eminem. Despite his success, Proof was still reaching back to help others get on, literally until the day he died. Hand 2 Hand features an abundance of local talent that Proof was trying to not only shed light on, but bring together in a unified front.

Joints To Check For:

  • "Forgive Me" remix featuring 50 Cent. The Dirty Dozen take the chorus from 50's old "Ghetto Koran" record and flip over Styles P.'s "Kiss Your Ass Goodbye" beat. D12 do what they always do: kick some of the most off-the-wall lyrics they can think of. Proof raps about coming from a dysfunctional family, Bizarre about being a crack head and "bad dad," both mumbling under their breath about their mothers. Kuniva even admits to lying to his momma.


  • "Gurls With the Boom" remix by Proof featuring Royce Da 5'9". Before he died, Proof and Royce had a well-documented feud that almost ended in the worst-case scenario. Fortunately, the once good fiends were able to reconcile and even work together again. Here, they rap about what a lot of dudes love: sexy women.


  • "The Beats, the Rhymes" by Proof featuring Chino XL. While Proof may be known to the mainstream for his comical endeavors with D12, he became legendary in Detroit in the '90s for being the top battle rapper. Chino's battle pedigree is impeccable as well. On this track both are serious, with Proof rapping about labels trying to steal his publishing, being in love with hip-hop, and how the beats and rhymes help him find himself. Chino preaches about keeping his musical integrity. "It takes a real n---a like Proof to understand me," he raps. "I can't dress crazy like Outkast to win a Grammy/ Even your family tries to play you till you get all rich/ The whole world is underhanded like softball pitch."


Don't Sleep: Other Notable Selections This Week:
  • DJ Kurupt's Follow The Leader
  • DJ Whoo Kid, 50 Cent and Mobb Deep's Best in the Bizness 2
  • Brandi Garcia's Southern Stilettos Vol. 5
  • Dutty Laundry and Trillville's Not Guilty
  • DJ Konflikt's Most Definite: Best of Mos Def
  • DJ Kronik's Hustla Music


'Hood's Heavy Rotation: Bubbling Below The Radar
  • "What's Happenin" remix by Juvenile (featuring B.G. and Mannie Fresh)
  • "Soil Raps" by Keak Da Sneak
  • "Trials and Tribulations" and "Just Might Be OK" by Lupe Fiasco
  • "It's Alright" by Mobb Deep (featuring Mary J. Blige and 50 Cent)
  • "Who Want a Problem" by Styles P.


Click here for more of Mixtape Monday ...


Celebrity Faves

  Dre
Dre of the production team Cool & Dre is embarking on a solo rap career with records like "Naomi" and "Chevys Ridin' High" off his upcoming debut, The Trunk. He says that as an MC, he wants to follow in the footsteps of Young Hova. "I'm a big fan of Jay-Z and his whole career," the Miami native said. "I look at him almost like what the perfect rapper should be. If there was a checklist, there's no [empty] squares. ... Everything is checked off."

The Streets Is Talking: News & Notes From The Underground

  Kanye West
Don't think that just because Kanye West has been touring overseas that he doesn't know what's poppin' over here. Kanye has four remixes tailor-made for the 'hood: one of "Touch the Sky" with D-Block ("I thought it was dope how D-Block went in and out," Kanye said); Three 6 Mafia's "Side to Side"; another with E-40, Ice Cube and the Game for "Tell Me When to Go"; and a fourth with Ghostface and Ne-Yo for the "Back Like That." "I'm high-powered, I put Eva Mendes to sleep," Kanye rapped last week from Hawaii, disclosing some lines from the Ghostface remix. "Yo, pardon, that bitch been on my mind all week/ But back to you Mac gloss chick, you're way thick/ How you have everything in this world and waste it?/ I'm 'so sick' like Ne-Yo say/ I'm laid-back like neo soul/ I holla back at this Creole ho/ She's from the N.O. but she never told me 'N-O.' " "I just like doing all the straight 'hood joints to be on the mixtape circuit," West said. "Just when they think I went too far with the Rick James [style] open shirt, then we come right back [to the streets]." As far as official LPs go, 'Ye said he may not come out with another album this year, but he expects Common's Finding Forever to be out in September. The first single, "The Glory," is slated for summer. ...

  Jadakiss
Yet another MC from New York is telling his city not to worry. He's getting ready to put the Apple on his back. "It's called 'Black Boots and Champion Hoodies,' " Jadakiss said of his new street single. "It's just for New York, for everybody that is so nervous that the game is elsewhere. It's to let them know that once D-Block and I get involved, once we start putting these heat-seekers out, we're pretty sure [the game] is gonna come back in this direction." Kiss said his Kiss My Ass album is still on course for the fourth quarter (unless he and his partners decide to put out a LOX double LP instead). "It's a slow, slow production," he said of Kiss. "After all that beef with 50 and all of that, I'm in negotiations right now with Interscope and Ruff Ryders. I been doing some light work, but I'm keeping it underground. They gotta pay me or let me go get paid." Kiss just signed a deal to get some side money and is putting out a line of cigars called Bada Bing. Also, he and D-Block just finished shooting a DVD of performance footage and behind-the-scenes material. ...

  Busta Rhymes
If the cops still want to know what Busta Rhymes has to say about the February shooting of his friend and bodyguard Israel "Izzy" Ramirez, maybe they should pick up a copy of the next XXL. Busta lashes out, telling the magazine, "N---as wanna focus on what I'mma say. F--- what I got to say. What about what happened? It don't matter what I say. I don't gotta say sh--! My man died! It was never about what I say. It was about what was done."

  MTV Hip-Hop Brain Trust
Our panel of experts has named Jay-Z the greatest MC of all time — what do you think? Check out what our panel said, then join the debate...









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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