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Fire Starter: The Runners
Orlando, Florida, natives Dru Brett and Mayne Zayne are developing the beats to keep the block hot. The producers already have Rick Ross' "Hustlin," Lil Wayne's "Money on My Mind" and Smitty's "Little Haiti" on their résumé and are currently working on new albums by Beyoncé, DTP's Ludacris and Bobby Valentino. They duo have more on the way from Ross, Wayne, Trey Songz and a duet that pairs Trina with Black Eyed Peas' Fergie.

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

DJ: J Period

Representing: Classic soul

Mixtape: Best of the Isley Brothers

411: Discs in J Period's "Best Of" series are becoming real collector's editions. This CD is dedicated to the timeless Isley Brothers, who have been making music longer than some of you guys' grandmothers have been living — and have a new album, Baby Makin' Music, out Tuesday. Period gives us some Isley classics and also includes tracks that sample Isley music. Mr. Biggs himself, Ron Isley, gives us his take on what the DJ did with his family's staples.

Joints To Check For:

  • "In Between the Sheets," sampled in Notorious B.I.G.'s "Big Poppa," A Tribe Called Quest's "Bonita Applebum" remix, Da Brat's "Funkdafied" and Keith Murray's "The Most Beautifullest Thing in This World."

    "When we made the song, Marvin Gaye had just done 'Sexual Healing.' This was the answer to [that]," Mr. Biggs said. "It was such a big song. We were really good friends, Marvin Gaye and my brothers. I called him and said, 'Look out for this song "In Between the Sheets." ' I wanted it to be the record it [became], but I was worried about the public. Would they understand? It turned out to be more than what I could ever expect. I look at the samples that are on 'In Between the Sheets,' it's so many. I can't think of nothing else that's been sampled more than that and been a hit as many times as that's been a hit.

    "When I heard A Tribe Called Quest and Biggie use it, I was knocked out. I know they felt the same way we felt about the song," Isley continued. "They brought a different flavor. When I first met Biggie, he was in the studio with Puffy and he asked me what I thought about it. We slapped hands and he was so shocked. He was asking Puffy, 'Is he gonna be kinda mad about me doing that?' "

  • "Footsteps in the Dark," sampled in Ice Cube's "It Was a Good Day." "If we're doing a show, we have to do that record," Isley explained. " 'It was a Good Day' ... knocks me out. When Cube did that record, it was a whole different song. We became good friends after that song."

  • "Choosey Lover," sampled for Nas' "Street Dreams" remix. "When we recorded the song, we were in [a studio in] upstate [New York], 10 miles from Woodstock," Isley recalled. "The album was completed and I wanted to do one more song and it was 'Choosey Lover.' "

    "[The 'Street Dreams' remix] was my first introduction to Nas and finding out how talented he was," Isley added. "Nas is out of sight. We did two or three records after that."

  • "Make Me Say It Again Girl." Sampled for Bone Thugs-N-Harmony's "Tha Crossroads." "My brother Ernie wrote that, I wrote the ending. We knew it would be one of our masterpieces," Isley said. "When I heard 'Crossroads,' I didn't believe no one could be that good. I think [Bone] were the first rap group to speak as fast as they did. I was glad to be associated with their record."

Don't Sleep: Other Notable Selections This Week

  • DJ Envy's NY Transporters 3
  • DJ Magic and C.E.O.'s Crack Juice 2 and Crack Juice 3
  • Sonnie Carson's I'm Almost Famous
  • DJ Kurupt's Westcoast Gangstas Starring Tha Dogg Pound
  • Shady Ra's Mr Sin City
  • Mickey Factz & J'von Bishop's Kings of the Bronx
  • DJ Cool Kev's The R&B Mixtape King of the Hill
  • Question's I Am Question

Click here for more of Mixtape Monday ...

'Hood's Heavy Rotation: Bubbling Below The Radar
  • "Bring It Back" remix by Jae Millz featuring Fabolous and Lil Wayne
  • "Stuntin" by Joe Budden featuring Coke
  • "Get Carried Away" by Busta Rhymes featuring Nas
  • "Can You Feel It" by the Commission
  • "Ridin High" by 8ball and MJG
  • "Back Like That" by Ghostface Killah featuring Kanye West and Ne-Yo
  • "I Thought I Told You" by Proof
  • "Face of L.A." by the Game

Celebrity Faves

  Jamie Foxx
When you ask Jamie Foxx to name his favorite rappers, he's all about LL Cool J. But when it comes to R&B, the Pied Piper pushes the actor/singer to reach greater levels.

"R. Kelly makes me want to do better, like, 'Wow, how did he come out with that record? I got to come out with a record like that' " Foxx said recently in the U.K. "Like, 'Damn, how's he thinking like that?' "

The Streets Is Talking: News & Notes From The Underground

  DJ Khaled
"Li, li, listennn!" DJ Khaled explains the title of his debut, Listennn ... The Album, and his trademarked call as just regular talk. "That's the Terror Squad lingo," he said. "Me, Fat Joe, we be buggin' out. Whoever's in the crew and wants to get a point across we say 'Li, li, listennn.' "

Khaled's indie LP comes out June 6, and the rapper says that though he has great relationships with just about every MC on his LP — including Kanye West, the Game, Nas and Young Jeezy — he actually had to go to different cities during the past year to track these guys down and record with them.

"[They said], 'Let me give you a song,' " Khaled explained from Miami. "I was like 'Nah, let's go create.' Because it's gotta be right. My album ain't no regular sh--." The DJ's first single is a posse cut called "Holla at Me," which — as anyone who's been watching videos or going to the clubs lately knows — features Lil Wayne, Paul Wall, Fat Joe, Rick Ross and Pitbull. Khaled says the order that you hear the MCs on the song is the same order that each put down their vocals. And he revealed that all of the rappers did their verses in one take. (Click here for behind the scenes photos from the video shoot.)

"Lil Wayne is like my favorite rapper," Khaled said. "He's the first person I went to. I walked in the studio, and it was Wayne and Trina in the studio. He told his engineer, 'Load up the CD; put it in the Pro Tools.' ... It took him five minutes to lay the vocals."

"What was cool," Khaled said, "is that it was pretty early in the recording process for my album, so that energy gave me the energy to say, 'I'm gonna make this album crazy.' "

The album also includes the Beanie Sigel and Jadakiss duet "Problem" and the Kanye West-captained "Grammy Family."

"Kanye's record is classic," Khaled said. "He produced it. It's him and Consequence, and they're putting John Legend on it. Kanye just spits fire. He gave me a verse that was so incredible, when I got it, I hit him so many times to say thank you, he probably thinks I'm crazy. I've been on him for a year to get the song. He's mad busy, but he kept it real."

The Miami turntablist/producer calls "Problem" "historical."

"Beanie Sigel and Jadakiss? Come on man," Khaled boasted. "When I recorded Beanie I told him I wanted to put Jadakiss on it. He said, 'Let's go.' I called Jada and said 'I got this record I want to put you on. Let's make history.' Jada is talking that sh-- on there, and Beans is talking about what's going on in hip-hop.

"I got this other record that's called 'Born and Raised in the County of Dade,' " he added. "Remember how you had Ja Rule with 'New York'? I made a crazy Miami anthem that's gonna cross over. It's got Pitbull, Rick Ross and Trick Daddy."

Other interesting combinations on the LP include a song that pairs the Clipse with Freeway and a track featuring Akon, Fat Joe, Styles P and Rick Ross. ...

  Lil' Wayne
Name an artist and Lil Wayne has probably already worked with them or gotten a call to work with them. He has to be the most sought-after guest star in rap, laying vocals for the new albums by Beyoncé, DJ Khaled and Obie Trice, and it doesn't matter to him whether the music is street or commercial.

Wayne's favorite co-star is Cash Money Records co-CEO Baby. The two are working on their first duet LP, Like Father, Like Son. Simultaneously though, Weezy is cranking out the third installment of his Tha Carter LPs, as well as the sequel to his Dedication mixtape with DJ Drama.

"Oh my God, don't talk about the mixtape!" Wayne said. "All my songs that I'm featured on [remixes of], I do those over on my mixtape. Not on purpose ... but I was selected to be on those songs in reality. But Dedication 2, those are just [instrumentals of] all the latest and hottest songs, and I'm just murdering them. Then I have the I Can't Feel My Face mixtape with Juelz Santana coming. That's a movie. That's my dude, all day." ...

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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Photo: MTV News

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