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Fire Starter: The Pack
The summer's love affair with skateboard culture continues with Too Short's new group, the Pack. They have a single called "Vans," which pays homage to a favorite brand of footwear among skateboarders. The record spread from their native Berkeley, California, to the rest of the Bay Area and is now bumping in L.A. Their buzz was so big, Short immediately jumped on the "Vans" wagon and signed the teen quartet of Lil Uno, Young L, Lil B and Young Stunna to his Up All Nite Music label and, subsequently, to Jive Records. Their debut, Vans, is due later this summer and features Keak Da Sneak, Mistah F.A.B., Jody Breeze and Short himself.

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— Shaheem Reid, with additional reporting by Rahman Dukes

Artists: Tha Dogg Pound and Jim Jones

Representing: Cali/ Harlem

CD and DVD: DPG's Cali Iz Active and Jim Jones' "A Day in the Fastlife"

411: The Fourth of July is a week away, but Independence Day is apparently is apparently Tuesday. Tha Dogg Pound release their long-awaited reunion LP and Jim Jones puts out his new DVD, both through Koch Records. Jones' DVD is an often-comical insight into the Dipset capo's behind-the-scenes living (i.e. threatening to give a club bouncer a wedgie, performing and cursing out police). Meanwhile, Snoop and Tha Pound are out to prove they are still the pre-eminent force on the Left Coast.

Joints To Check For:
  • Jim Jones is in the office on "A Day in the Fastlife." Jones makes records and apparently fights for his own magazine covers. "I sold more records than everybody Jay-Z put out," Jones yells on the phone to some poor magazine editor. "Me, myself, Jim Jones the artist. Who was on the cover this month? What does he do? ... My stats are not enough over there?" The DVD also shows Jim in a meeting about ringtones.

  • "Kushn N' Pushn" by Tha Dogg Pound. Snoop plays the back while Daz Dillinger and Kurupt — who raps, "All we wanna do is just smash each and every one of y'all who ain't from the squad," on the chorus — take the wheel. LT Moe gives them a laid-back funk-soul beat to rhyme over.

  • The thug love segment from "Fastlife." For the first time, Jones shows the world "the love of his life," Chrissy. We see her chastising him for sitting on his Maserati and smudging the paint with his pocket chain. "I've learned a lot from a smart girl," Jones says.

Don't Sleep: Other Notable Selections This Week

  • DJ Exclusive's Relapse
  • DJ Vlad's Hot In Here Pt. 3
  • DJ Warrior's Blood Cuzins
  • DJ Ryno/ DJ Chill's The Streets Is Talking
  • DNA's The Chain Remains
  • JR Writer's History in the Making
  • Mick Boogie's King of the Remixes

Click here for more of Mixtape Monday ...

'Hood's Heavy Rotation: Bubbling Below The Radar
  • "My Ghetto Story" remixes by Baby Sham featuring Alicia Keys and Akon
  • "Me & You" remix by Cassie featuring Diddy and Yung Joc
  • "War With God" by Ludacris
  • "Turn Off the Lights" by Mary J. Blige featuring Jay-Z
  • "Where Y'all At" by Nas
  • "Sexy Love" remix by Ne-Yo featuring Joe Budden
  • "Tell" by Project Pat featuring Young Jeezy

Celebrity Faves
  Dame Dash

Dame Dash said despite his breakup with Jay-Z, he, too, is celebrating the 10th anniversary of Jay's Reasonable Doubt, which was released June 25, 1996. "It's the only record we still own together, so it's cool," Dash said. "And I support it because those days made who we are now. I'm proud of Reasonable Doubt always."

The Streets Is Talking: News & Notes From The Underground

  Lil Wayne
When the rumor first started floating around, it seemed so improbable: City of Brotherly Love native Gillie the Kid was ghostwriting rhymes for Lil Wayne — who is touted as one of the best MCs in the world today. Rumors can be nasty and farfetched, and Wayne not writing his own material sounds a little crazy, given how often he collaborates in the studio with other artists and the mass output of material he unleashes through mixtapes and official albums.

Well, we finally caught up with former Cash Money recording artist Gillie himself and got to the heart of the matter. He said he left Cash Money because of disagreements with CEOs Baby and Slim, and he said he hasn't seen Wayne in quite some time. He did accuse Weezy of swagger-jacking, however, saying, "It's a lot of Philadelphia influence in New Orleans."

There is a huge difference from just being influenced by an MC and having an MC ghostwrite for you. So the question remains, did Gillie pen some of Wayne's lyrics for Tha Carter and Tha Carter, Vol. 2?

"Not for Carter 2," Gillie laughed. "I wasn't around for Tha Carter 2. Give all the credit to Lil Wayne for that. But it was a whole lot of things going down for Carter 1. Holla at your boy, Wayne."

Lil Wayne's publicist said Gillie's implication is false.

"We deny any of Gillie's claims," his publicist, Richelle Cross, said. "Wayne writes all of his own rhymes. He never used a ghostwriter, and in fact, Wayne ghostwrites for a lot of people out there."

We'll have much more on Gillie and his new ventures next week. ..

  Fat Joe
We had a chance to hear even more of Fat Joe's Me, Myself and I LP, and Joe Crack is coming real ridiculous this time. He has an insane joint with the Game, and if you're loving his street track, "Damn," the album will be a real treat.

"That's traditional Fat Joe, à la 'My Lifestyle,' " he said of "Damn." "It's hard New York hip-hop that the streets been missing. It's just a solid footstep letting you know, 'Uh-oh, he's coming. Uh-oh, that's where he's at right now?' We just letting them know I'm coming. I don't do too many freestyles on the mixtapes and all that. I like making real records and home runs and 14,000-spinners. Grimy records that can play on the radio is what I love doing."

Before Joe played his album for us, he took time out to clear up the rumors about friction between him and Remy Martin. She put him on blast awhile ago, which many people attributed to her album, There's Something About Remy, not doing too well on the charts.

"She was at [New York's] Rucker [Park] with us yesterday," Joe said. "We had a game, and the crowd was looking at us like crazy. They were mind-boggled. I don't understand why. She called me and wished me 'Happy Father's Day.' We were in Miami together Memorial Weekend. And we talk. ... But she started the blaming game when the album came out. And of course, I'm the guy to throw the gun at and shoot at.

"I had a real tough time with Remy's project as far as fighting with Universal Records and the chairmen," he added. "That's why I had to keep pushing her album back, because I felt the setup wasn't right. She's an amazing artist. I think she's the best female artist we got to this day. I agree with her on a lot of issues. I just felt like I wasn't the guy to throw under the bus."

Joe said Remy is definitely still signed to the Squad.

"She's down with us," he said. "I never had to ask her if she's Terror Squad. As far as I'm concerned, she's TS and been TS. So I hear plenty rumors, I heard maybe she's going to G-Unit. I'm like, well, 50 Cent ain't offer me 5, 10 million dollars yet. All the rumors, that's just 'hood rumors. As far as I know, she's about to get back in the studio and make an even hotter album." ...

  Lord Jamar
To keep it all the way funky, Lord Jamar said he never dropped a solo album like his Brand Nubian brothers Grand Puba and Sadat X because he just didn't have a complete package he was ready to go with.

"Other things would come on my plate to distract me from doing that, like maybe the Brand Nubian thing would come back into play or some acting-type stuff," he said recently in New York. "Or I met Dead Prez some years ago and started working with them to get them signed and all types of stuff. I don't know, things would just come up and plus I never really felt confident with [my] body of work up until now. I recorded songs over all those years, solo joints, and I would have songs here and there that I felt strong with, but I never really had a body of work that I felt like, 'Yeah, this is it.' " (Click here for photos of Jamar performing.)

Jamar said he's finally ready, and on Tuesday, he drops The 5% Album.

  Lord Jamar's The 5% Album
"Well, the basic description of [the Five Percent Nation] is that we are not a religion, it's a culture, a way of life," he said, referring to the African-American social and religious movement that the album is named after. "It is a re-education, for really all human families, but first and foremost black people. The Five Percent ... just represents the power and the truth and who are the ones who tell the truth. We're the portion of the population who tell the truth and have knowledge of ourselves and know who we are truly in the universe, not what we are told we are. We teach that to the 95 percent who are lacking in knowledge and who are easily led into the wrong direction."

Jamar, who is in his mid-30s, said he's been following the Five Percent Nation for the past 23 years. His album features the rest of Brand Nubian, Wu-Tang Clan members Raekwon and RZA, and a trio of teenagers with MCing in their blood.

"I got a song with GZA's son Justice, Ol' Dirty [Bastard]'s son, Young Dirty Bastard, and my son,, Young Lord," Jamar revealed. "My son is 13 years old, I think GZA's son is like 15 or 16 and Dirty's son is, like, maybe 17. The song is called 'Young Gods.' "

For other artists featured in Mixtape Mondays, check out Mixtape Mondays Headlines

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Photo: MTV News

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