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— by Shaheem Reid, with additional reporting by Rahman Dukes and Curtis Waller

Artists: DJ Muggs and the GZA

Representing: The finest lyrics and beats

Mixtape: Grandmasters

411: Well it's about darn time. GZA and Muggs have been kicking around the idea of doing an album together since 1997. But since they both had several solo and group projects (Wu-Tang Clan and Cypress Hill respectively) to attend to, they never got around to it. Until now.

Could you believe the duo recorded Grandmasters in just eight days? "It's a theme album," Muggs said of the LP. "It's a movie. Grandmasters comes from being at the top level of your game whether it be MC or DJ. But the record is also a chess theme record, and it's the highest level you reach as a chess player as well."

Muggs did all the beats and GZA did most of the raps except for a few guest appearances. During production, the two faced off in several games of chess, hence the Muggs Vs. GZA album billing. The two kings of their domain explain some of the songs on the record below.

Joints To Check For:

  • "Smothered Mate." "That's the last song on the album," GZA detailed. "The album is structured around the game of chess, that's why a lot of the titles are chess terminology. I figured I would have 'mate' in that one because it's the end of the album. Just like the game, you have the beginning, middle and end. I decided to call that a 'smothered mate' because a smothered mate is when the king is mated but he's smothered by his own pieces, his own army."

  • "Advance Pawns" featuring RZA, Raekwon and Sen Dog. "They're great," Muggs said of working with the Wu. "They're talented brothers. They're quick and got their business right. They come in, catch a vibe and bang it out. ... I approach my records like Tom Waits, Iggy Pop, I don't focus on a single. I just crafted [the whole album] like that."

  • "Exploitation of Mistakes." "That's a song about an unsolved mystery," GZA explained. "It's a murder type story. I started off with two individuals found in a car in a lake. One had his foot on the break. So it's about a detective trying to solve a murder. The beat has this dark piano loop. When I first heard the beat, that's the first thing that came to my mind. I watch a lot of Court TV, Discovery Channel and A&E."

Don't Sleep: Other Notable Selections This Week

  • Big Mike's R&B Jumpoff 19
  • Crooklyn Clan's Clubplanet Party Mix
  • Project Pat and DJ Drama's Gangsta Grillz 15: The Welcome Home Party
  • DJ Rob Dinero's Sucker Free Mixtape 2005
  • DJ Kay Slay's The R&B Model Edition Part 2 (Hosted by Brandy Chenell)
  • DJ Melo's Brain Food (Weedology)
'Hood's Heavy Rotation: Bubbling Below The Radar
  • "Number of Bad Decisions" by German Luger
  • "Just a Touch" remix by 50 Cent featuring Paul Wall
  • "Pick It Up" and "Mr. Postman" by Juelz Santana
  • "Can't Hide From Love" and "Be Without You" by Mary J. Blige
  • "I'm Sprung" remix by T-Pain featuring Pit Bull and Stat Quo
  • "Grillz" by Nelly featuring Ali, Big Gipp and Paul Wall
  • "Real Soon" by DPGC
  • "Dead Presidents/ The World Is Yours" (live) by Jay-Z and Nas

Celebrity Favs

  Jamie Hector
Jamie Hector, who plays golf-club-swinging kingpin-on-the-rise Marlo Stanfield on "The Wire," says he's really feeling the lyrics of Papoose and Kanye West when it comes to rap. When it comes to acting, he enjoys his own crew.

"The experience is great," he said of his stint on hip-hop's most beloved series, which is also a darling with the critics. "Everybody is putting it down. Not just the actors but the people behind the scenes also. It makes you want to work harder."

"The Wire" is still filming its next season and Hector isn't giving away too much about it.

"[The people] are waiting to see what happens, but we're gonna keep them guessing," he said. "It's gonna be based on education, and it's gonna be real."

The Streets Is Talking: News & Notes From The Underground

Waiting for a reunion of former Children of the Corn members and childhood friends Cam'ron and Mase? Don't hold your breath. If you listen to the latest G-Unit mixtape, it sounds like Murda Mase was throwing a subliminal jab towards Killa Cam with the line "This is Murda ni--a, I named you Killa."

Cam is laughing Mase off.

"I can't even feed into Mase," the head of the Diplomats said last week. "We played you last year. We gave you a shot to get back at us. G-Unit is not going to do nothing to help you really put us out of business. We not going nowhere. So Mase is not really on the radar."

"You talking about you gonna slap somebody and [having a love affair with] Brandy. And just about seven months ago, you was holding hands on Hot 97 praying," Cam continued to scoff. Killa also says that Mase tried to sign with the Diplomats this summer.

"We got pictures of Mase this June with the Back Like Cooked Crack shirt on, holding his fist up," Cam revealed. "He was signing the Purple Haze CD, with the song 'Take Em to Church' on the CD. I can't feed into Mase. I wish you the best of luck, God bless you — when I say 'God bless you,' I mean it for real. I hope this works out for you and that's the end of it. I don't have nothing to say about him. If anything happens on our end, probably one of my dudes might air him out on a [mix]tape or something. But I'm done."

Mase could not be reached for comment. ...

  50 Cent
A few weeks back, Nas said the thought of reconciling with former friend 50 Cent crossed his mind (see "Nas: Major Figure"). Esco even told us that he was willing to sit down and talk with 50, and said that he was the man who took Fif on his first tour and showed him some of life's luxuries, such as Bentleys and diamonds.

50 has a response.

"Nas is right," he told MTV News recently. "I did see he had nice stuff at that point."

50 cites Nas as the first person to do something for him without getting something in return, and says they were indeed friends. Although the friendship has soured, 50 means Nas no actual harm.

"It was later I started feeling different about him," 50 continued. "He's wishy-washy sometimes. We had our little differences, and we been saying little stuff to each other on record, but I don't have nobody trying to hurt Nas."

50's latest barb aimed at Nas is on "Window Shopper" (see "New 50 Music Hits Airwaves; MC Admits That He Too Was Once A Window Shopper"). In response, Nas asked how he can be a window shopper when he was the first person to show 50 the high life. Fif has an easy answer.

"Now if he tried to buy the stuff I buy, he'd be window shopping," the G-Unit general explained. "He hasn't progressed to the point I progressed. He failed to set up a situation where he can feed his people. Where's Jungle and Whiz and the rest of the Bravehearts? [Lloyd] Banks' house cost $2 million in Long Island. Tony Yayo had a million dollars after taxes in his account when he got out of jail. I provided for the people that were around me. [Young] Buck's house don't cost $2 million, but you wouldn't know it. In Nashville, the property value is different."

But there still is a slim chance we'll see some solidarity between the two Queens Kings. Nas did say he wanted to sit down and talk with 50. 50 isn't turning up his nose at the idea.

"We'd have to sit down and have a conversation for me to be cool with him," 50 said. "Other than that it'll stay where it is." ...

  "50 Cent: Refuse 2 Die"
While we're on 50, you might have heard of a flick he has coming out Wednesday called "Get Rich or Die Tryin'." OK, so you've known about it for months. In any event, a new DVD by New Line Home Entertainment is hitting stores this week as well. It's called "50 Cent: Refuse 2 Die." Although Fif did not participate in the making of the DVD, the documentary tells the story of his life through animation and personal accounts by his grandfather, Curtis Jackson Sr., and Darryl "DMC" McDaniels, among others. The filmmakers were even able to unearth some photos of 50 as a boy.

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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