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Fire Starters: G. Dep and Loon
Granted, these two aren't new: They both released solo albums years ago on Bad Boy and have a string of hits between them. Still, we haven't heard them like this. Dep and Loon have joined forces to drop an LP of unreleased and new material called Bad Boy. Styles P and Ginuwine are on the record, which is floating around the Net right now. Loon still has a smooth flow and the Deputy can be a dope lyricist when he's focused.

— Shaheem Reid, with additional reporting by Rahman Dukes and Yasmine Richard

Clique: The Diplomats

Representing: The Big Apple

Independent LP: DukeDaGod Presents: Dipset - More Than Music, Vol. 2

411: When you're a journalist, you have to be flexible when you get thrown a curveball. When you deal with many of the artists covered in this section particularly, you have to stay on point. These cats keep you on your toes.

So to keep it all the way real with you, we had to remix the whole "411" section last night — luckily just in time to catch all of "The Sopranos.") A major shockwave was sent through hip-hop over the weekend, seemingly shifting a balance of power. What is, no exaggeration, arguably the strongest crew in hip-hop right now has problems — and if you listen to worst of the rumors, you'll hear they are breaking up.

If you haven't heard, Diplomat capo Jim Jones called up a Mixtape Monday comrade, esteemed journalist and radio personality Minya Oh, and aired some family business — shady family business. Oh, best known as Hot 97's Miss Info, posted some details on her Web site MissInfo.tv over the weekend. According to Miss Info, Jim Jones said that he and the Dips want to "put Cam on punishment" for a myriad of reasons. He says that he and Cam haven't talked for a year and all but said their relationship — business-wise and friendship-wise — was done.

Just about all the Dips have been on the low since this development broke, however, the camp's VP of A&R, DukeDaGod, called into Hot 97 on Sunday. During a brief interview with DJ Envy, Duke simply said "Dipset forever. ... Don't believe the hype; it's Dipset forever."

Which brings us to this week's main pick. Before the drama, we actually had our own interview with Duke where he gave us some insight into his new compilation, More Than Music, Vol. 2 Yup, he has the whole camp on there, from Jim Jones to Cam to Katt Williams. This may be the last project where we hear all of them together. How disappointing is that? It looks like Harlem is in for their biggest confrontation since Bruce Leroy took on the Shogun of Harlem himself, Sho'nuff.

Joints To Check For:

  • "The Corner" (featuring Hell Rell, 40 Cal. and J.R. Writer). "It's real melodic," Duke said. "It's smooth, paints pictures of the street corner. I put a lot of the next wave of Dipset in the forefront because you have to live in the future. J.R. is 20 years old, he's the future. Rell is like a DMX type, he's got potential. 40 Cal., he ain't really get his feet wet. I wanted to showcase that these kids could rap. Cam, Juelz and Jim are good, they're established."

  • "Gun Shop" (featuring Hell Rell, J.R. Writer and 40 Cal.). "It's the same three guys going back and forth," Duke said. "It's called 'Gun Shop,' but they're just spitting — it ain't talking about guns. It's dope to bring them together because they always trying to out-verse each other. It's like basketball players going at it, trying to dunk on each other. It's all love, though."

  • "Suga Dooga" (featuring Cam'ron). " 'Suga dooga,' " Duke laughed. "That's just one of Cam's words. He's a colorful MC. Sometimes you hear him say something and it might not register, then you listen to it later and it makes sense. 'Suga dooga' is just another name for saying 'shorty' or 'shawty.' "

Don't Sleep: Other Notable Selections This Week
  • DJ Kasper - Before the LOX
  • DJ Haze - Streets Is Back
  • Team Invasion - Hood Rules Apply 5.5 and Hood Rules Apply 6
  • DJ Kool Kid - World of Fly Girls

'Hood's Heavy Rotation: Bubbling Below The Radar
  • Young Jeezy (featuring USDA, R. Kelly, Bun B and Jadakiss) - "Go Getta" remix
  • R. Kelly (featuring Usher) - "Same Girl"
  • 50 Cent - "Amusement Park"
  • Method Man - "New York, New York"

Celebrity Faves

  Teddy Pendergrass
T-Pain says his nickname is "Teddy Pin Her" (or something along those lines) but we talked to the man he was actually inspired by, soul legend Teddy Pendergrass. The original Teddy P. is throwing a huge gala on June 10 in Philadelphia called "Teddy 25 — A Celebration of Life, Hope and Possibilities" in recognition of the car accident that confined him to a wheelchair 25 years ago. At the ceremony, he will be presenting awards to some key people who helped him in his life, such as Whitney Houston and Donald Trump.

Pendergrass said he still keeps his ears open for new music, and while he feels it could be better, there are some artists he enjoys.

"I don't do a lot of radio listening but I do have a rack of about 400 CDs, and every now and then I'll go buy something," he said. "I like Christina Aguilera, I love Mary J. Blige — Mary J. is just so real. I don't care for people who are going to get caught up in vernacular that is beneath how I would talk to my own sister, my mother, my own daughter. I think Jaheim has a wonderful voice. I'm not going to critique his music; I think his voice is superior to the music he chooses. He has a wonderful, wonderful gift. Do I think he gets the recognition [he deserves]? Probably not. I don't keep up with his chart numbers, but when I hear his voice, I like it a lot."

Jaheim and Nelly recently did a hip-hop version of Pendergrass favorite "Come on Over to My Place," but Teddy, who like many stars from the '70s and '80s has been sampled frequently, said it doesn't excite him.

"What I basically look for is if somebody utilized [my song] properly, and I wait for a check," he said. "I don't mean that to be coy in any way, but I am concerned that material I sung be utilized in an appropriate fashion. After that, the only thing I'm concerned about is that the licensing is taken care of. I'm not going to call my friend and say, 'Ooh, did you hear so-and-so? They put my song in their song.' I could care less. It's nice, I'm honored they did it, but you a young guy — I'm a grandfather!"

The Streets Is Talking: News & Notes From The Underground

  Beanie Sigel
Roc-A-Fella Records or the Dame Dash Music Group? Beanie Sigel found himself caught in the middle when Dash and Jay-Z ended their long partnership a few years back.

"I definitely didn't want to pick between my friends," Sigel said recently in New York, where he was at work on his new LP, The Solution. "Who wants to do that? Where I'm from we don't do that. I don't blow whichever way the wind goes. I couldn't pick between my friends.

"The reason why I didn't make that decision, I didn't know what the situation [with Jay and Dame] was, why [the split] happened. I've asked both sides and didn't get a legitimate answer before I had to go [to prison]. It unfolded while I was locked up. I just wanted my own situation where if I was to make music, it wouldn't be me choosing Dame Dash Music Group or the Roc. Technically I was still a Roc-A-Fella artist during the split."

It took more than a year to make a decision — different scenarios of Sigel going to G-Unit as well as starting his own label were rumored — but ultimately, Beans went with Hov, and will release his next album on Roc-A-Fella this year. The move may seem a bit surprising from the outside looking in, because it seemed like Sigel was in fact closer to Dash and business partner Kareem "Biggs" Burke, who was the third head of the Roc before the split. Dash and Burke were even there to pick Beanie up from jail when he was released on August 9, 2005, after being sentenced to a year in prison on a gun charge in October of 2004.

"A lot of things be smoke and mirrors," the Broad Street Bully reflected. "A lot of people thought I was leaning toward Dame Dash Music Group — they seeing Dame in the videos we shooting and the 'House Arrest' thing they put on BET, and him coming to court and coming to jail to see me. It was like 'OK, Dame is riding with him.' That was never the case with me. A lot of people look at it like Dame did this, that and third, that should have been my obligation. But for what? If you doing that, you doing it from the heart."

  Damon Dash
Sigel said when he was released from prison, he started feeling like Dame had ulterior motives for staying close to him. "When you look at Roc-A-Fella as whole — no disrespect to any other artists over there — but if you don't have Jay-Z, who's the next best thing for you to have? I'm no dummy, I'm no fool. I seen through all that. I was letting that weigh out. There's a song by Bill Withers: 'Use Me.' "

Asked if he thought Dame's intentions were pure, Beanie simply answered, "I don't know what his intentions were, but in all honesty: Nah.

"After a while I felt like sh-- for feeling like that," he continued. "You don't want to question your friend, or who you thought was your friend. Their loyalty and sincerity towards you, you don't want to question that. As time went on, I did things to bring stuff out to light, and I was finding out a lot of stuff that wasn't right."

Sigel also hinted that the State Property clothing line that Dash ran and Beans had a stake in may be all but over. "Ain't no status," he said. "Ain't no status." ...

  Jermaine Dupri
It's the same old story with Jermaine Dupri: He's in the studio trying to make even more hits — with everybody. He's producing an all-ballad album for Jagged Edge, then you have Usher, Mariah Carey, Janet Jackson and one of his best friends, Nelly.

"Nelly's got a crazy collaboration he's trying to put together, which is him, Janet and Mariah Carey all on one song," JD said. "That's what he wants. If he could convince them to do it, it would be crazy. He wants Janet to rap a 16-bar verse, he wants Mariah to sing the hook and he's gonna do two verses. He has it all planned out. You ask him about it! This is what he wants; he's 100-percent deadlocked into it. And I think he's doing a record with Bruce Springsteen. You know he always has to do one of those! My two records [that J.D. has produced for Nelly so far], he's gonna have some people on them — I won't tell it yet. I don't want to jinx the record.

"Me and Nelly in the studio is barely work," he continued. "We can't even get to work, it's so much partying. No sleep, nonstop. It's a party in the studio. He's the only person I go in the studio with and we party all night. The way Nelly works is, he works 100 percent off a vibe and what's going on in the studio and how people in the studio are moving off his record. People come to the studio and might [not give a song a good response]. He'll be like, 'Scrap that beat!' We bring in a whole new set of people in. We put on a new beat and if they start moving, he gets excited and it'll be more drinks and the smoke gets thicker and it gets crazy."

J.D., of course, recently signed on to be president of Island Def Jam Records, and he says he wants to build it up as big as it was when Dru Hill and Kelly Price were big. He divulged that Janet Jackson is in negotiations with label head L.A. Reid to come over and join the likes of Mariah Carey, Lionel Richie, Babyface and the aforementioned Jagged Edge on the roster. He also has one MC under his wing, Hot Dollar, whose underground record "Two Steppin' " caught his ear.

"Me being a talent-finder and looking for artists, he happened to have crazy record in L.A. I got his demo, he had more songs. I was like, 'This ain't bad!' I've always been one to move with the new and young talent, so I was like, 'Let's come in with some fresh blood.' " ...

  Snoop Dogg
Last week "The Condemned" star and WWE legend "Stone Cold" Steve Austin told us he would pick Snoop Dogg as a tag-team partner. Snoop has popped up in commercials promoting "WWE Monday Night Raw" — so would he ever get in the ring?

"I don't know," Snoop said, "I mean, 'cause I ain't really with getting hit on. I'm with being one of them cool managers that's like, 'Y'all slap me, I'm calling in all of my goons and we gonna tear this muthaf----- up.' What part of wrestling is this? I like it though, and my kids, they keep the spirit alive. Wrestling is something that you either love or hate. Ain't no in-betweens. And when you love it, you love everything about it, 'Oh, that's fake.' 'N---a what? My Uncle Rio would kill you if you said that!' We love it like that.

"You know, there's something about that entertainment that never dies," he added. "I love the way that they have big intros now — when the guy comes out he's got a big song playing and he's coming down the ramp. It's exciting now, it's not like it used to be. It used to just be 'ding-ding-ding' and they get in there and get crackin.' "

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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