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Fire Starter: Joell Ortiz
It's taken Joell Ortiz a minute to get his buzz going, but now that the Brooklyn, New York, rapper has it, he's wasting no time making the most of his notoriety. He got the cosign from the Dr. Dre out West and will be issuing his major-label debut through Aftermath. Ortiz recently put out his indie project The Brick: Bodega Chronicles, full of his hard-knock rhymes — peep the remix to his underground gem "Hip Hop," with Saigon and Jadakiss. BK stand up!

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— Shaheem Reid, with additional reporting by Rahman Dukes, Tim Kash and Jayson Rodriguez

Group : UGK

Representing: Texas

Mixtape: Pocket Full of Stones: The Mixtape

411: It's a pairing that even the MTV hip-hop brain trust didn't think it would ever see: UGK and Outkast. Two of the greatest hip-hop groups of all time (who ranked 10 and 4 on our list, respectively) are ganging up on the mic via the Underground Kingz's "Int'l Players Anthem." Once again, Dre is the highlight — "Keep your heart three stacks, keep your heart," he spits — but you definitely can't sleep on the other three MCs.

The Kingz's album UGK Underground Kingz is coming May 9. But until then, DJ Vlad gives us a bunch of UGK songs on this mixtape. The DJ says it's a dream come true.

Joints To Check For:

  • "Int'l Players Anthem" (featuring Three 6 Mafia). "This is the unreleased version," Vlad said. "They couldn't get Three 6 cleared for the album. UGK is one of my favorite groups of all time. I flipped at the chance to do this mixtape. Me and Bun B have been working on mixtape tracks for years — he showed up on the Rap Phenomenon II mixtape.

  • "One Day (Butcher Blend)." "This is actually my favorite blend on the tape," Vlad said. "I mixed a classic UGK track with Lil Wayne and Baby's 'Leather So Soft.' The outcome was incredible. When I was remixing 'One Day,' I instantly thought of 'Leather So Soft,' because the track's producer, Jim Jonsin, really made that sound like an old-school Texas track. That's why it worked so well."

  • "Get Cheese" (featuring T.I.). "It has a ridiculous verse from T.I.: 'Oh yes, it's the mob, better get ya mind right/ Tip ain't goin' hard/ That don't even sound right,' " Vlad said.

Don't Sleep: Other Notable Selections This Week
  • Littles - The New Big East

  • DJ Kasper and DJ Blazita - Before the LOX

  • DJ Block - Day of the Vet

  • Joell Ortiz - The Brick: Bodega Chronicles

'Hood's Heavy Rotation: Bubbling Below The Radar
  • Swizz Beatz - "Money in the Bank"

  • 50 Cent - "Fully Loaded"

  • Murphy Lee - "Get Busy"

  • Joell Ortiz (featuring Jadakiss and Saigon) - "Hip Hop" remix

  • Chingy - "Make That Money"

  • Showbiz and AG - "Business as Usual"

Celebrity Faves

  "Stone Cold" Steve Austin
Snoop Dogg may be too gangsta to enter some foreign countries, but the WWE loves him to death. Wresting legend "Stone Cold" Steve Austin would pick him any day to be his tag-team partner.

"If we had to go with any rapper right now? Snoop," Austin said last week in New York. "I met Snoop Dogg on one of his video shoots about a month and half ago — he's so calm, cool and laid-back, I would have him on my side. Plus I do enjoy his music. He's a nice guy."

Wrestling fans shouldn't get too excited, though. They've been waiting for Stone Cold to actually compete in a match after stepping away from full-time competition years ago. And while he pops up every so often to cause chaos for his former peers, Austin — who stars in the just-released movie "The Condemned" — says his days of going for the Championship title are over. He's focused on climbing the ladder in Hollywood: His feature film debut, "The Condemned," came out on Friday.

"It'd be a really long road to get back in shape to come back for a one-match type thing," he explained. "That ain't gonna happen. If I wanted to get back in the ring for couple of years, every day on the road at the #1 spot, I could do that, but I'm looking down the road 10, 15 years from now, when I'm hunting and fishing — I want to do it pain-free, like I am now."

Austin, who says he likes Mr. Kennedy the best out of the new batch of superstars, even refuted the notion he could be lured back for a big money dream match with the iconic Hulk Hogan.

"Too big of a difference in style," Austin said. "Nothing wrong with his style, nothing wrong with my style. You'd have a big buildup, two of the biggest names ever in the ring. But when it comes down to the match, you'd have a cluster — bad! [A street fight] would be interesting. I'd win that in five minutes."

The Streets Is Talking: News & Notes From The Underground

  50 Cent
We saw "Spider-Man 3" last week and loved it — mad action, and Tobey is hilarious! Spidey is actually from Queens — 50 Cent's home borough in New York — but the G-Unit general says he compares himself to another superhero: the Caped Crusader.

50 chatted with us last week about his third album, Curtis. "You ever seen 'Batman Begins'?" he asked. "This album is like that for me as an artist — some of the content on the record is prior to Get Rich or Die Tryin'. For the people I played it for — Eminem, Dr. Dre, journalists — they feel like the record falls somewhere between Get Rich or Die Tryin' and The Massacre because of [its] content. That's why I titled the album Curtis, because it was prior to the world knowing me as 50 Cent."

50 is especially excited about this new LP, and promises that it's even better than The Massacre.

"I left no stones unturned," he explained. "I went in the studio with pretty much everybody who I thought would provide a new creative direction for me. I worked with Kanye West, Pharrell, got music from Swizz Beatz, Will.I.Am. I wanted to see everybody, to see if they could give me something different to something I have already created. A lot of the material was good, [and] a lot of it will be shifted onto my record. I recorded the album again."

Curtis — which is due June 26 and also features Justin Timberlake, Mary J. Blige, Robin Thicke and many more guests — should not be confused with another record 50 has coming called Before I Self Destruct. Late last year, he announced that the follow-up to The Massacre would in fact be the Self Destruct project, but that album is currently on hold until 2008.

"What happened was, I recorded 18 tracks with the concept Before I Self Destruct and I moved them to the side and started again," 50 said. "It's kinda what happened to me with The Massacre; I recorded 13 tracks [for] The Massacre and put them aside. I started over; six of those 13 records ended up on Game's album. This time I put these records to the side and started a new album. Expect to see me June 26 with Curtis and in February with Before I Self Destruct."

"Straight to the Bank" is the first Curtis track to hit the streets. "The first single is like a warm-up for me right now," he said. "I just wanted to make people aware of where I am right now."

There's also a song called "Man Down," which Fif says is his favorite.

"It's a story of a man from a perspective with their back against the wall," he said. "I do it in first person, I speak like it's me. It's like, you can tell I'm not in that situation now. It's coming from a perspective that they have three strikes and they push him to ... his breaking point. I feel that I captured it better than I ever tried to capture that [feeling]." ...

  Rick Ross
Miami's big boss, Rick Ross, says he wants to heat up this summer just like he did last year. His second LP, Trilla, is almost done and should be out in August.

"When I was young, that Michael Jackson album Thriller hit me," he said recently in Atlanta, where he was recording. "I remember when I got the LP, the way [the cover] folded open like my notepad at school, it stuck with me. It was one of the greatest albums ever released, one of my favorites. I wanted to come back in a way that was just as exciting. I put the trill on it, so now we have Trilla. Coming real soon, biggest album of the year."

Jay-Z, DJ Khaled, Trick Daddy, Cool and Dre, Mannie Fresh and Lil Jon are already on the album, and Ross says he's trying to get both Andre 3000 and Dr. Dre to add to the mix.

"I reached out to Andre; we bumped into each other at the MTV [Video Music] Awards, we chopped it up and I told him I needed some of that 'Southernplayalistic' music," Ross explained. "I reached out to Dr. Dre; he's real busy on his album but hopefully he'll slide me one of them pies so I could double up."

Ross himself has been answering calls to be a guest collaborator — he's already laid vocals for the new albums by UGK, Nelly and R. Kelly, and you already know he's part of the symphony of MCs on "Takin' Pictures" and "We Taking Over," by DJ Drama and Khaled, respectively.

"It feels good to rub elbows with the veterans," he said about appearing on the posse-cut lineups alongside the likes of Young Jeezy, T.I., Young Buck, Jim Jones, Fat Joe, Baby and Lil Wayne.

"Those are ... the dudes that made me love hip-hop and still love hip-hop," said Ross, whose side group Carol City Cartel will drop their Black Flag debut this year as well. "Dudes I'm fans of. I just been grinding."

Ross' grind has led him all the way from the MIA to Tinseltown, where he won a small role in the upcoming Laurence Fishburne film "Days of Wrath." Kurupt and David Banner also appear in the movie.

"I'm playing a role, G-Dog," Ross said of his character. "I'm expanding my horizons, it's gonna be a fly movie. G-Dog is a street dude coming up in the 'hood, trying to make some moves, make a better way."

Now that Ross has already risen from the streets in real life, he wants to come up in Hollywood.

"I'm trying to get some Oprah money so I can stop cursing and using bad language and talking bad," he said. "I would love to be in that world."

Don't sleep: Ross' involvement with film isn't just limited to saying lines. He's producing as well. Look for "M.I.Yayo the Movie" coming soon.

"It's a groundbreaking documentary about my city," said Ross. "I go in-depth. It's a top-10 countdown of the biggest hustlers who ever walked my streets." ...

  Yung Joc
He's not exactly the Starbucks poster child, but Yung Joc has made an homage to cups of joe with "Coffee Shop," which features his new Block Entertainment labelmate Gorilla Zoe.

"If you walk into a coffee shop, it's a very diverse group of people," he said. "You got the Internet in the coffee shop, business meetings are held in the coffee shop. I related that to the trap. When I was coming up, I sold everything from fake Air Force Ones to woman's pocketbooks. The [coffee] shop is a lot like the trap."

Joc's new album Hustlenomics is coming out this summer. In the meantime, he's been on some heavily rotated records: a remix of Lloyd's "Get It Shawty" and T-Pain's "Buy U a Drank (Shawty Snappin')."

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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