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Fire Starter: Sqad Up
The New Orleans foursome has been making mixtapes for quite some time and has been bubbling up regionally. They were down with Lil Wayne over at Cash Money for a few years, then formed an alliance with Lil' Flip more recently. But when making music with both Southern hit men failed to materialize into business deals that made sense, the Sqad stepped to the side and are now releasing their debut, We Here Now, independently on August 8. The Hurricane Katrina survivors have enlisted Mannie Fresh, Bizzy Bone and David Banner for their project.

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— by Shaheem Reid, with additional reporting by Bridget Bland, Rahman Dukes and Corey Moss

Artist: Chamillionaire

Representing: H-Town

Independent DVD: "Littles Presents Chamillionaire: The East Coast Shakedown"

411: We all know Cham as the platinum Houston MC who police try to catch ridin' dirty, but there's much more to the man than that. Cham just dropped the street DVD "Littles Presents Chamillionaire: The East Coast Shakedown" to give a little more insight into his life. He also kept it 'hood by hiring Littles, who's probably made a bigger mark directing, marketing and promoting DVDs than he has rapping on CDs. Here, Littles give us some stories behind the stories.

Joints To Check For:

  • "Chamillionaire Walks Through Houston's Notorious Akers Homes Where He Grew Up At." "Some artists can't go back through the housing developments where they grew up," Littles said. "But Chamillionaire takes us through the 'hood and shows [that the community] still supports him. It was ill seeing the look on these people's faces — it was like Chamillionaire was their idol."
  • "The Inside Look at Chamillionaire's Fly Rydes Shop." "Chamillionaire breaks down how he started with Paul Wall and how they both had been repping and wearing grills," Littles said. "Cham also shows us how he hooks up cars with candy paint and rims. ... You just have to ask Pimp C. In the segment, Cham showed off a new ride he sold Pimp upon his release from prison. Not only is Cham doing music, he shows that he's investing his money."
  • Never-before-seen videos by Chamillionaire, Jae Millz and Maino.

    • Don't Sleep: Other Notable Selections This Week

      • The Aphilliates - Gnarls Barkley: Trip to St. Elsewhere
      • Dub Floyd - The Boondocks Official Mixtape
      • Mike Epps Presents Urbanworld Order: Part III
      • DJ Lust and Stack Bundles' My Life Is Like a Movie
      • Ransom with DJ Clue and Big Mike - Pain & Glory

      Click here for more of Mixtape Monday ...

      'Hood's Heavy Rotation: Bubbling Below The Radar
      • Big Cas - "Check My Feet"
      • Dre featuring Keyshia Cole - "Be Somebody"
      • Hot Rod featuring Mary J. Blige - "Be There"
      • Obie Trice featuring 50 Cent - "Everywhere I Go"
      • The Roots - "Take It There"

      Celebrity Faves

      Ciara's "Get Up" is about as hot a club record as they come. The singer's working on her new LP and says she has no problem giving love to new producers as well as big dogs on it. (Click here for behind the scene photos from Ciaria's video).

      "Well, I will say that there are underdogs on there that are really cool to me," she said. "Fresh producers. We also have some very established ones. The energy is crazy. My goal as an artist and a musician, [and as a] writer, is to give you my best that I can give you. Your sophomore album, you start kinda going, 'OK, can I do it bigger and better than last time? Can I really just give them what they want?' "

      The Streets Is Talking: News & Notes From The Underground

        Jim Jones
      There are so many rumors surrounding Jim Jones and the Diplomats right now, where do you start?

      How about at Summer Jam, where in early June the Dips headlined the season's biggest hip-hop concert in the tri-state area. People were expecting the crew to roll out some footage of Jay-Z and put him on the infamous Summer Jam screen. But lo and behold, nothing happened. Not even a mention of the Jiggaman during their set. What gives, Jim?

      "We ain't them type of individuals," Jim, flanked by his protégé Max B, said last week in New York. "Cam'ron felt a certain way [about Jay], he vented [on a previous dis record] and that was that. [Putting Jay on the Summer Jam screen] would be a crass move. You know me, I'm on some straight gangsta sh--. We ain't gonna settle our differences by putting you on a screen. Smell me?

      "F--- the Roc," he added. "F--- they lifestyle."

      Next up, with Jim putting the heavy push on a new crew, the Byrd Gang — which includes Max, Mel Matrix, Stack Bundles (who used to be down with DJ Clue's posse) and possibly former Roc-A-Fella singer Rell — people have been inferring that the Diplomats' capo is moving away from his old team. Rumors of frictions between longtime friends Jim and Cam have been adding fuel to the fire.

      "That's what people want to happen," Jim said of the rumored breakup. Jones insists everything in the Dip camp is tight and to look for another Diplomats album this November or December, right after Freaky Zeaky gets out of prison.

        Jim Jones and Cam'ron
      "Nothing's always sweet," Jim continued about his Dip Set family. "Everybody goes through their trials and tribulations and turbulence. But we brothers. Anybody that's got brothers and sisters, you have the worst fights ever in your life with your brothers and sisters. Not to say we feuding, but it comes with the territory. We're family for real. Nothing stops that. If it all went down and we all had to live in one house, it would probably be 30 n---as living in one house. When we started, it was 30 n---as living in one house."

      So what's the difference between the Diplomats and the Byrd Gang, you ask? "It ain't no difference," Jones said bluntly. "It's just a clever way of getting money. You just gotta flip it."

      With his team intact, Jim is preparing his next LP, which has a tentative title of Summer Was Fun. That'll be out this fall. He has a double video coming for "We Fly High" and "Reppin' Time."

      "I been through a whole lot since my last album," Jones noted. "Hopefully I been through my last set of serious dealings with the courts. I beat a trail, outside of my last album. Just been growing, been doing big business. I'm going on 30. My integrity don't stop. Who I am don't stop. But it's still the fast life: mo' money, mo' problems."

      Jim said he had to rep for himself a couple of weeks ago when he bumped into Tru Life on the streets. For those of you not familiar, Tru is signed to Jay-Z and Juan Perez's Roc la Familia label. Tru's been dissing Cam, Juelz Santana and Jim Jones hard every chance he gets. Jim said he wanted to settle their differences in the ring and challenged Tru to a boxing match in the squared circle.

      "Who is he?" Jim started answering sarcastically about Tru Life. "F--- the Roc. F--- Juan too. I don't know Tru. I know Juan. You know what it is. You better cool out, Juan.

      "I seen old boy in the streets," he added, finally coming clean about his run-in with Tru Life. "I did challenge to fight him for 50 thou. I'd do it for free but n---as is talking like gangstas. Gangstas have money. They do what they want to do. I felt like I wanted to fight for 50 thou. That was damn near a month ago and he ain't bite." ...

        The G-Unit Radio Part 21: Hate It or Love It album cover
      A couple of weeks ago, 50 Cent dropped a mixtape on which he took shots at Game, Terror Squad and D-Block. The big question was, why did he wait so long to spark up another round? Lloyd Banks gave a little insight last week. "Well, as far as getting back at Game ... he was never a priority," Banks said. "It's not just him. It's him, D-Block, Terror Squad and whoever else has something slick to say [about G-Unit]. It wasn't really a priority. ... [50] had too many business deals to take care of. But nothing's forgotten. I didn't know none of these dudes, so I can really care less if we ever shake hands or hug or anything." ...

        Bone Crusher
      Bone Crusher crushed the music industry with his hit "Never Scared," but since then people have been saying, "I guess he's never coming back out." For the better part of the last two years, Bone has been MIA. He says he's been in "the land of the lost."

      "That's what we call Jive Records," the heavyset Georgia native said recently. Bone was one of the artists that got lost in the shuffle when Jive absorbed most of the rap acts that were on Arista Records when that label folded.

      "Jive really didn't know me very well," he said. "Same problem with the Clipse. We all got caught in a f---ed-up situation. We all been trying to get off; me, J-Kwon, the Clipse, the Youngbloodz."

      Bone was finally able to get released from the label and put out an independent LP called Release the Beast on Tuesday. His experience with the majors left such a sour taste in his mouth that he says he'll never sign with a big-name label again ... unless he gets full creative control.

      "This album is a bunch of records I did right when 'Never Scared' came out and before I signed [with Arista]," he said. "You're gonna hear a lot of hunger like 'Never Scared.' It's that type of music."

      Bone says he still has plans to release an album that features a hybrid of crunk and rock music.

      "Yeah, I was the first one to start talking about doing that crunk-rock sh--," he responded when asked what he thought about Lil' Jon's upcoming Crunk Rock LP. "We started on it, I did a whole bunch of records."

      Outside of music, Bone has made it to Hollywood. He's currently taping the next season of VH1's "Celebrity Fit Club."

      "Right now it's going real well," he bragged. "I'm the number-one guy for weight loss at 'Celebrity Fit Club.' We're doing our thing, I'm getting skinny."

      Fit Club alumnus Bizarre is the reason Bone wanted to do it.

      "He called me up, like 'Bone, you should do the show. Show 'em how big boys do it," said rusher, who particularly loves Fit Club's physical activities. "Dr. Ian knew me, he was jockeying for me to get on there. Then VH1 called me and it was good. We'll be taping till August." ...

      Finally, DJ Drama, DJ Sense and Don Cannon have finalized a deal to launch their Aphilliate Music Group label through Asylum. The first release will be coming next year.

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

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Photo: MTV News

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