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Fire Starters: Plies
One thing about those Florida boys, they don't stop grinding, now matter what it takes. Cool and Dre, Rick Ross and T-Pain all maintained a presence underground until finally getting their mainstream feet wet several years later.

Fort Myers, Florida, native Plies is no different. His down-bottom cadence and lyricism has garnered him many mixtapes kudos, and now he's getting a chance to actually sell some records. Plies' debut, The Real Testament, is slated for release August 7 via Slip-N-Slide/Atlantic, and the first single, "Shawty," features T-Pain.


Mixtape Monday: Kanye West Glows In The Dark; Pharrell Brings The B-More Beats

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

Artist: Jadakiss

Representing: The return of lyrics and the raspy flow

Mixtape: The Predator Is Back

411: We're gonna have that Jadakiss interview soon — he's just letting the mixtape speak for him right now. There are some new developments concerning 'Kiss and the Lox that will be coming to the surface soon. Good things. Real good things.

Joints To Check For:

  • "Ride Around Shining." 'Kiss jacks the Clipse's "Ride Around Shining" beat and uses it as the landscape for his boatload of thoughts about paranoia and dealers — and to threaten harsh murder. Well, all murder is harsh, but lines like "Ain't sh-- funny Cous, especially when I can have your head in the same duffle bag that the money was" put a capital H in harsh.

  • "Pay Attention." "I ain't even take my warm-up jacket off yet. This is just Jazzercise!" Jada yells at the end of the freestyle. The words are obviously still coming effortlessly for him. He must have something up his sleeve — he's talking more smack than Floyd Mayweather. Let's hope his album does a better job of living up to the hype than Mayweather's last fight (shout out to Uncle Roger!!!). "In the booth or with a belt, I'll give that boy a beating," 'Kiss raps. "Pound for pound, I'm the best n---a that's competing. ... Life's a bitch but you have to learn to live with her."

  • "Hip-Hop" remix by Joell Ortiz (featuring Jadakiss and Saigon). All three rappers openly long for the purer days of hip-hop's yesteryear but without sounding like grumpy old men who refuse to change with the times. "Everybody running their mouths about how they real," 'Kiss raps. "Ringtones blowing the doors off album sales/ Need to be telling the people about they feel ... ." Sai later comes with a stern line about the sign of the times as a rap artist. "It's like I'm in a race against time/ A couple years ago, I couldn't wait to get signed/ I thought automatically my face would get signed/ But being lyrical is just a waste of slick rhymes."

Don't Sleep: Other Notable Selections This Week
  • DJ Exclusive - Hip Hop Poverty and Porn
  • DJ Suss One & DJ L - We Takin' Over Part 3
  • Tre Unda - Audio Cocaine
  • Baby the Birdman, Young Jeezy, Lil Wayne, Jim Jones and Fat Joe - Street Dream Tour
  • Kochese, Young Jeezy and Juelz Santana - Best of Both Hoods
  • DJ G-Spot - Midwest Invasion 5
  • DJ EFN - My Block Miami The Mixtape 2

'Hood's Heavy Rotation: Bubbling Below The Radar
  • USDA - "Get It Up"
  • DJ Khaled - "We Taking Over" remix (featuring Lil' Kim, R. Kelly and T-Pain)
  • The Dream - "Shorty Is the Sh--"
  • Pharoahe Monch - "Body Baby"
  • Amy Winehouse - "Rehab" remix (featuring Jay-Z)

Celebrity Faves

  Al Sharpton
The Reverend Al Sharpton has been loud and clear about his views when it comes to rap's more severe messages, but he doesn't think the entire genre is bad. He recently called to mind a few hip-hop artists he enjoys.

"I listen to a little of Kanye [West]," he said. "Me growing up like James Brown's son, it's hard for me to listen to a hip-hop sample of him. ... But I really like Common. I like his image, his music. I like Nas. He's a good brother."

The Streets Is Talking: News & Notes From The Underground

  Kanye West
There are no dates yet, but Kanye West told us first: His new tour will be called "Glow in the Dark" (see "Kanye West Reveals Tour Details, Signs Up Madonna's Choreographer"). His last headlining outing, the Touch the Sky Tour, was a major lighting extravaganza, so you can imagine what 'Ye is going to bring to the table this time.

West has been hanging out with some prolific artists lately, namely Japanese legend Takashi Murakami, who Americans probably know best for his work with the Louis Vuitton rainbow pattern. Murakami designed the cover for Kanye's latest record, "Can't Tell Me Nothing," as well as the new outrageous jewelry piece the Chicago native has been wearing on his chain lately.

"He did a three-minute animated piece for one of the songs," West told us recently in L.A. in regards to his new Graduation LP. "Murakami, his work has been stunning to me because pop art is really expressive, representative and expressive and emotional, and it looks like something you can do yourself. [But] you cannot do no Murakami sh-- yourself. You cannot do this at home. He has this studio out in Japan that has 30 artists working at one time. I love Japanese culture and I was always into art, and Murakami is really a god in the art world.

"I've heard people come up to him and say, 'You're becoming more godlike every day,' " West continued. "Every single that's coming out for my album, he did the artwork for the covers. ... And all the merchandising for the new album is Murakami."

Besides the release of "Can't Tell Me Nothing" last week, Kanyeezee continues to be one of the most vocals MCs in the game right now, jumping on a remix of Ne-Yo's "Because of You." ...

Pharrell's been going back and forth between his hometown of Virginia Beach, Virginia, and South Beach, Florida, for a few years now — but if you ask the Neptunes producer, he's actually been drawing most of his inspiration from somewhere in between the two cities. P said he mixed some Baltimore club music into the production for Twista's new single, "Give It Up." "The Baltimore house [music] is incredible," he said. "[For] 20 years, that B-More stuff has been like insane and banging. So I wanted to do it on an artist and sort of bring it into the mainstream."

Along with his production partner, Chad Hugo, Pharrell said the 'Tunes will start to usher in the B-More sound throughout the rest of the year with a few more songs. But in true Pharrell fashion, he said expect the beats to come with his own personal twist. "I wanted to give my own interpretation of it, which is a little bit of Miami, a little bit of Baltimore house," he explained. "The way I'm doing it don't sound like B-More and don't sound like Miami. It just kind of [has] a lot of the remnants of the sounds of the things that I would use ... arranged with the mentality of the B-More stuff but with the low end of Miami. It's cool." ...

Cee-Lo has gone the route of his good friend and Dungeon Family member Andre 3000 the past few years, doing more singing than rapping. But with Mr. Three-Stacks making a resurgent MC run, might Lo feel inclined to do the same? No doubt, he says.

"I tell you what, rapping is also a passion of mine," Lo began to explain last week in Atlanta. "It's a little bit restricting as far as cadence is concerned. I'm able to do a little more with melody and harmony. You can twist it and stretch it and bend it into so many other things.

"I will be rapping again," he continued. "I haven't stopped, for the record. It's about timing. So good news for all you rap fans of mine: I'm doing another Goodie Mob record. That will be the first installment. There will be a Goodie Mob reunion very soon." ...

  Obie Trice
All is quiet in the Shady camp at the moment — besides the hailstorm of publicity that Shady/Aftermath artist 50 Cent has been stirring up, Eminem and D12 are playing it low-key.

But that hasn't stopped Obie Trice from gearing up for his next project, Bottom's Up. He's a few songs deep and hopes to be able to drop the album by the top of next year. Obie has only been in the lab with Daz Dillinger so far, but it's another vet he's recently linked with — former Suave House CEO and current Clipse manager Tony Draper — that has the Detroit rhyme-slinger thinking about the big picture.

"I'm in the makings with him about doing some management [for me]," Obie said of Draper. "We working some things out. It's a good look. He knows a lot of people and knows how to move things around. He's been out here for a minute, so that's a good look as far as I go. I'm just trying to branch out and get in this game correctly.

"I don't really know a lot of artists — I'm in Detroit," Obie continued. "It's not Atlanta, where everybody is everywhere, or L.A. or somewhere like that. I actually think it's time for me to start branching off and start connecting with cats. Getting my collaboration on and working with some hot producers — unknown and known — and just make them joints that feel good and that are radio. I just want to make that transition."

With that goal in mind, Obie has compiled a wish list for Bottom's Up that includes Eminem, Young Buck, Akon, Jazze Pha, and Devin the Dude. He also told us he'd ultimately like to be the type of artist who gets invited to perform at award shows and talked about for having the song of the year.

But Obie's in no rush to pull a crossover move. He recently leaked his latest joint, "Detroit Summer," which will also be on his next mixtape with DJ Whoo Kid, The Most Underrated. Obie revealed a few tracks he's working with, like the cautionary "Short Distance" and "Hold Up."

" 'Short Distance' just talks about how a short distance it is between being right and being wrong and what's disrespecting a man and what's not," Obie explained. "It's like a short distance between living life and not. Just that quick something can happen when you trying to back a person against a wall.

" 'Hold Up' [has] a real banging bass line with a constant freestyle, like a different type of flow," he continued. "A verbatim, repetition-type flow. It crazy, something different. There's a few joints I got."

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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