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Fire Starter: Triggerhappy
They're quick to shoot, but you won't find this production trio hauling heavy artillery beyond DV cams and digital handhelds. Formed two years ago by movie exec Derek Ferguson and videographers Aahmek Richards and Kareem Johnson, TH has been firing away with a number of projects since, including music videos by Hurricane Chris ("A Bay Bay") and Jason Fox ("Aunt Jackie"). Next on deck are clips scheduled for Slim Thug and Fabolous' next single. Bullet, bullet!


Mixtape Monday: Nas Talks About 'Crazy Joint' With Jay-Z; Wu-Tang Delay LP For Ghostface's Sake

— by Shaheem Reid, with additional reporting by Rahman Dukes, Jayson Rodriguez and Sway Calloway

Artist: Cassidy

Representing: "Philll-eee!"

Mixtape: Hustler's Home 2

411: Cassidy has shown many different sides of himself the past few years. He's even battled himself to open up to us. On November 6, he drops his third LP, which he says is filled with material you can learn from.

"From beginning to end, you can play the album," he recently said of B.A.R.S.: The Barry Adrian Reese Story. "It's nothing but quality music, and it's going to be music that you don't expect to hear from a dude like me. I definitely matured. I grew up, and I'm talking truthful things that people need to hear right now. Not disrespecting nobody, not knocking nobody, but it's a lot of music that ain't going to teach you nothing, you ain't going to learn nothing from."

Not long ago, in the wake of a car accident, Cass suffered minor brain damage and couldn't remember any of his rhymes. In fact, it was up in the air as to whether he could even formulate new verses. Obviously his injuries have healed, and Cassidy has his bars and his confidence up.

"My flow, my tone of voice, the things I talk about, how real I keep it," he replied when asked why he is at his best now. "I write more hooks. I'm making wild beats now, and I produced this album all by myself. I'm just stepping it up, maturing in all areas, just trying to man up, so that's why I feel like I'm a better artist."

He even says he'll measure up well against Jay-Z next month when Hov's American Gangster arrives in stores alongside B.A.R.S.

"I look up to the things that [Jay-Z] did back in the day," Cass said. "But you know, he is almost 40 years old. He's a businessman. He's got so much to focus on, so many responsibilities. It's been so long since he been running in the streets and doing the things he used to do. That's why when he dropped Reasonable Doubt or [In My Lifetime, Vol. 1] — he was fresh from that so he was talking it like he was fresh from it. But it's been so long since he did that, and I don't even think he's into music like he used to be. He ain't as hungry as me, and he definitely ain't got a story to tell like I got to tell. And even if he did, he told it already."

Cassidy's new mixtape, Hustler's Home 2, is out this week. (We're hearing there might be a last-minute Kanye West verse for a remix of "My Drink N' My 2 Step.") We have the exclusive preview of it — so exclusive that it doesn't have a name yet. But we'll tell you it is a double CD of some of Cassidy's best solo material as well as records he made with his crew, the Larceny Family.

Cassidy shared more of his feelings about Jay-Z with MTV News — click here to watch.

Joints To Check For:

  • "What Goes Around, Comes Around." "The beat is crazy," said Cass, who also produced the record. "The verse is crazy. It's a banger. I always used to hear 'what goes around, comes around' from my family. I used to hear that in the streets for years. We talk about why dudes do certain things even though they know what goes around comes around."

  • "Choppin N---as Down." "It talks about why dudes get chopped down, why violence happens," Cass said. "It's talking about how we will chop a n---a down if it comes to it. Not that we want violence, but self-defense."

  • "I'm a Thinker." "It's another joint I produced," the Hustla explained. "It's talking about the reason why you gotta be a thinker. They say the strong overpower the weak, the smart overpower the strong; I tell you why. It's crazy."

Don't Sleep: Other Notable Selections This Week
  • Hi-Tech Pimpin': The Mixtape - Hosted by Hurricane Chris
  • The Empire/ Lil Wayne - The Drought Is Over Part 4
  • DJ Drama - Gangsta Grillz 17
  • DJ E-V - Bitch I'm a Rockstar
  • Dark Gable & Dow Jones - Got Stonez?

'Hood's Heavy Rotation: Bubbling Below The Radar
  • Fat Joe (featuring Lil Wayne) - "Crack House"
  • G-Unit (featuring Lil' Kim) - "Wanna Lick"
  • Lil Wayne - "Gossip"
  • Rick Ross (featuring R. Kelly) - "Speeding"
  • N.O.R.E. (featuring Cassidy, Busta Rhymes, Talib Kweli, Sho and Red Cafe) - "Set It Off" remix

Celebrity Faves

  Irv Gotti
Irv Gotti is doing it his way like Carlito on VH1. His reality show, "Gotti's Way," is a winner, and he is also paying attention to the big screen.

"I want to see that badder than a mutha----a," Gotti laughed about "American Gangster."

And not just because the film's star, Denzel Washington, is a good friend of his. Gotti really wants to see a black-gangster film have universal appeal.

"We were in Katana," Gotti said, recalling the West Hollywood, California, club where he met Washington a few years ago. "He comes up to me and says, 'I know all about your family. I read [about] you in the L.A. Times a lot. What I've come up with is they f---ing you over and you're gonna get past this.' I was with a chick too, and she gets all Denzel-googly, like, 'Oh, he touched my arm.' He has that mojo. That's Denzel — he's my man, but he's the greatest actor.

"We got into this big conversation about 'American Gangster,' " he added. "He knows how important it is to have a gangster film that is on the level of 'Goodfellas,' that's comparable to 'Scarface.' We have 'Menace II Society' and 'New Jack City,' and they are legendary movies in our world, but they don't transcend. Like 'Goodfellas,' it don't matter what nationality [you are], it's a great movie. We don't have an urban character or urban movies like that."

"Gotti's Way" is on VH1 now. "American Gangster" arrives in theaters November 2.

The Streets Is Talking: News & Notes From The Underground

C. Webb is no fluke. After producing "Blunt Ashes" on last year's Hip Hop Is Dead, he got with Nas again for the new record "Surviving the Times" from Esco's upcoming Greatest Hits. Vibing with his good friend Chris Webber helped spur on Nas to make his December LP, Nigger.

"One of the n---as that got me started on this album was Chris Webber," Nas told us last week. "He's got a studio, and most of the time I call him, he don't answer the phone because he's in the studio. He's in the studio more than me, and it's been like that forever. His brother is an incredible artist as well. People don't know."

Another tireless producer, Jermaine Dupri, says he is excited about producing the majority of Nas' new album.

"He lives in Atlanta, but I think he wants to record in New York again," JD said.

A while back, Nas told JD he wanted to get on the radio a little bit more, but as he has gotten deeper into the new project, Nas has abandoned that idea.

"I haven't spoken to him about what we gonna do as far as his mind is on his album," Dupri said. "I'mma see what he feels and go with the flow.

"You can sell records without having a big pop single," he added. "Like 'Money Ain't a Thing.' It was a tremendous record, a classic, but it never went #1. Kanye West's 'Can't Tell Me Nothing' wasn't a major Billboard success, but it felt like #1 in my heart."

Dupri revealed he might use some sampling for Nas because he loves "Surviving the Times" so much. JD used to sample heavily until all those clearances started tapping at his pockets.

"That new record is hip-hop! The samples in it — I wanna do records like that," he said. "I got a million ideas to go with that type of sh--. The Nas thing would be really creative for me, to come up with records that got that feel and vibe and a slight possibility of being on the radio. Like the record I did with Jay on American Gangster, it had a little bit of radio, but it's a story/club record."

"When you look at n---as like JD, I worked him on one of his biggest albums, Life in 1472," responded Nas, who has done a bulk of the record already with Salaam Remi. "I was on the first song on there, me and him. I love JD. He's one of the n---as that made me want to move to Atlanta six years ago. I definitely wanna get it in with him. But n---a better hurry because me and Salam might finish the album.

"Jermaine better hurry up and get in the studio and start dancing around to these beats and make this happen," he laughed. "Let's get it poppin'. I got two weeks to be done."

Nas wants to drop his first single for Nigger two or three days after November 6, which is the day his greatest-hits LP and Jay-Z's American Gangster drop. Nas appears on Hov's set via the track "Success."

"The record with Jay, that's a crazy joint," he said. "Homeboy is laser-sharp with his sh--. And he's got a crazy album. I'm really proud of him. It made me proud. Yeah, I'm on the joint. I'm on there." ...

The Wu-Tang Clan's Abbot was in New York last week helping to promote his "American Gangster" movie. That's right: Common and T.I. were advertised more heavily, but the RZA plays a pretty substantial part in the flick. He's part of the po-po team lead by Russell Crowe. He did his thing, too.

OK, enough of that — we'll get to RZA's Hollywood endeavors next time. But if you love the Wu like we do, you most definitely were disappointed by the latest airing of family business. Last week Ghostface Killah told us he's hotter than leftover Chinese food straight out of the microwave.

Why? He alleges that he isn't getting his fair share of the cake from the Clan's stint on the recent Rock the Bells summer tour. In addition, the Clan's 8 Diagrams LP was pushed back from a tentative fall release date to December 4, the same day as Ghost's solo effort, The Big Dough Rehab. He pointed the finger at the Clan's "hierarchy," and we all know who that is.

"The blame can't fall on me like that," RZA said about the dueling release dates. "Wu-Tang Clan is a bunch of brothers working on one common cause. ... We planned to put that record out in September, then October, and it kept getting pushed because it's just a lot of work, yo. ... I wasn't really conscious [Ghost] was dropping an album on December 4th, but yesterday we moved our [group] record from the 4th to the 11th. We gave that spot to Ghostface ... because of how he felt. ... I had to make that call. [SRC label head] Steve Rifkind also, he was getting bashed up by Ghost [in the Mixtape Monday interview]. So ... we moved.

"We didn't have him move, we moved," RZA continued. "I think that shows the kind of bigger men we could be. Ghost is my brother, [I] love him to death. But we're in this business, and it's hard to kind of discern what's right and what's wrong. ... But I will say that, when it comes to a Wu-Tang Clan album, I plan on making it a 60-, 90-day type of schedule. ... It turned out to be a 200-day schedule ... and I didn't want to wait until next year [to put out 8 Diagrams].

"But Ghostface, we moved it to the 11th. You got that 4th. Do your thing right then, double up [the] next week, make mad cream this year, family."

Mixtape Monday extra: Check out RZA's special message to Ghostface.

Everybody wants to know what the deal is with Cam'ron. Well, he actually called us last week. Although we can't divulge everything, we can tell you this: Cam says that he hasn't just been on vacation, he's been working and will return on his own time.

"I'm ready to come back out, but when I come back out, it has to be right," he explained. More to come very soon. ...

Free T.I.! Regardless of his charges, Tip is getting a swell of support from his peers, whether they be in his camp like Yung Dro or DJ Drama or the always boisterous Busta Rhymes who held him down during the BET Hip-Hop Awards. While in Atlanta on awards weekend, Busta spoke to us and expressed his love for the King of the South:

Hungry for more hip-hop coverage? Sink your teeth into our "Hottest MCs in the Game" feature.

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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