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Fire Starter: Chrisette Michele

Chrisette Michele is a diamond in the rough on Def Jam. The 23-year-old Strong Islander sings the hook on Jay-Z's "Lost Ones," and look out for her on the track "Can't Forget About You" on Nas' Hip-Hop Is Dead ... The N next month. So how gangsta is this jazzy young lady, who sounds about as gorgeous as she looks? She was on tour with the likes of India.Arie and Kem before she even had a deal.

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— by Shaheem Reid and Jayson Rodriguez, with additional reporting by Rahman Dukes and Bridget Bland

Artists: Snoop Dogg and Young Jeezy

Representing: LBC and the Trap

Mixtapes: Tha Blue Carpet Treatment: Tha Mixtape and I Am the Street Dream! respectively

411: And we luvvvvvv it! For the second week in a row, we're giving you two for one — and why wouldn't we? DJ Drama put it best when we hollered at him last week: The mixtape game is going through a fourth-quarter rush. Everybody and their baby mama are putting out albums, so it follows that artists want their product in the streets as well. In fact, two of them, Snoop and Young Jeezy, are laying it down in both arenas.

Jeezy is taking it back to the tippy-top with I Am the Street Dream! Whereas his last mixtape, Can't Ban the Snowman, saw him rapping over a bunch of other people's beats, this one has Jeezy giving the streets mostly original songs. Of course DJ Drama, a.k.a. "Mr. Thanksgiving," helped Jeezy put this one together, and says to think of it as Trap or Die part 2 — i.e. another classic.

Snoop, he's just showing his behind — really stuntin'. He called on three of the hottest DJs from their respective regions: Drama (representing the South), Skee (L.A.) and Whoo Kid (New York). Snoop gave up some actual songs too. And with a guest list including Flavor Flav, Swizz Beatz, Timbaland and the aforementioned DJs, why wouldn't he roll out that blue carpet?

Joints To Check For:

  • "We Do" by Snoop Dogg (featuring Big Daddy Kane). "I almost missed that one," Whoo Kid said last week via phone from one of the far corners of the globe he's been touring. "That sh-- is hard. What's so crazy is, I didn't even peep that until I was putting the music together. I was like, 'Yo, is that Big Daddy Kane?' That was my ultimate idol growing up. Snoop has respect for all the old-school cats, so that sh-- bugged me out. It's crazy — Kane is spazzin' out on there."

  • "L.A.X." by Snoop Dogg (featuring Ice Cube). "It's some L.A. sh--, of course," Drama said. "They sound real good together. It sounds like it was always supposed to be. I think this is the one where they use a Biggie sample [the word 'Cali' from Life After Death's 'Going Back to Cali']. So crazy."

  • "Wannabes" by Snoop Dogg (featuring Young Jeezy and Nate Dogg). "It sets the whole mood off on the mixtape," Skee said last week from an L.A. studio, where he was chopping up regional remixes of Game's "It's Okay (One Blood)." "The intro shocks people — with me, Whoo Kid, Snoop and Drama coming together — then we got a banger right away with 'Wannabes.' It's an unreleased Snoop record that didn't make it onto Tha Blue Carpet Treatment. I thought, 'This muthaf----- was crazy' for not outing it on his album, but it lets you know that Snoop is really coming with some sh-- this time. I went to [his studio] the Crip Kitchen and he gave me some music. I was like 'OK, we gonna have some sh--.' "

  • "U Know What It Is" by Young Jeezy. "It's produced by Shawty Red," Drama said. "It's off the album The Inspiration: Thug Motivation 102. It starts off with Shawty talking to Jeezy and it's the conversation [that's taking place on] the streets, about, 'Is Jeezy gonna be loyal to the streets? Are people tired of him? Is his new album going to be good as Thug Motivation?' "

  • "J.E.E.Z.Y." by Young Jeezy. "It's simple trap music," Drama said. "I don't even wanna go too deep into it. Bangers are bangers: It's a good, strong song to feed the streets. From a DJ's perspective, I love it because people could pick out the word 'Jeezy' and [substitute] their own names."

  • "All I Need" by Young Jeezy. "It's just great street music," Drama said. "I love this mixtape because it reminds of what Trap or Die was. This song though, it's a club banger: 'Patrón and weed, all I need.' N---as gonna love it in the clubs."

Don't Sleep: Other Notable Selections This Week
  • WordofSouth.com & DJ Scream - Gunshine State: Edition V.2
  • DJ Chuck T & Romey - This Is the ... Mix
  • DJ Furious Styles and DJ Dub - Shine: The Mixtape
  • DJ Vlad & Young Scrap - The Arrival: What's My Mother----in Name?!
  • DJ Haze & the Game - New Blood Series, Part One
  • DJ E-V & DJ Pana - Ballin!
  • DJ Chuck T, Granddaddy Souf & Young Cash - Extracurricular Cracktivities
  • DJ Drama & Plies - From the Bottom to the Top

Click here for more of Mixtape Monday ...

'Hood's Heavy Rotation: Bubbling Below The Radar
  • Lil Wayne - "Dough Is What I Got"
  • Jay-Z - "Hov Is Back" (Mick Boogie blend)
  • Ghostface (featuring Trife Da God) - "Good"
  • Jim Jones (featuring Juelz Santana, Cam'ron and Max B.) - "Pin the Tail"
  • Fat Joe - "Pendemic"
  • UGK - "Chrome Plated Woman"

Celebrity Faves

  Jaleel White
Jaleel White, who appears in the upcoming "Dreamgirls" film, is most known for his TV role as Urkel on "Family Matters." He's been off the scene for a while and has been hearing rumors that he's dead and/or gay. The actor insists neither one is true.

"They had some sucker's picture going around the Internet and saying it was me," White said. "It was not me. I'm dangerously heterosexual. [The rumor about me being dead] was more of an annoyance. If they had frozen my bank account, I would be pissed."

White has been writing for TV shows and working in real estate, but when it comes to shopping for the holidays, he recommends the DVD of "Little Miss Sunshine." According to him, it'll touch even the coldest thug.

"I thought 'Little Miss Sunshine' was hilarious, one of the funniest movies of the year," he said. "They have a scene at the end of that — I don't care where you come from, it's just funny as hell."

The Streets Is Talking: News & Notes From The Underground

There's no solid date set yet for the 2007 release of Raekwon the Chef's Only Built for Cuban Linx 2, but whenever it comes, it will be Rae Day.

"This album is important to hip-hop and people who followed; the Purple Tape is coming back," he said last week, referring to the original, unofficial name of the 1995 first volume of Cuban Linx (initial cassettes of which were purple). "If I lose on this, hip-hop is really somewhere else."

As he told MTV News exclusively last week, the Chef has inked a deal with Dr. Dre's Aftermath label and his album will be mostly produced by RZA and the Doc.

"We said, 'Yo, this might be even more interesting to have the Doc and the Abbot collaborate as one and put the kid where he needs to be with this Linx project," Rae said. "To have them two put their input in, it's magnetic. I feel good about the production of RZA, and Dre did his thing. He knows the power of Cuban Linx and what it did. He's basically coming in as another coach."

Rae said he's mostly been working with the two producers separately, but all three of them have been in the lab together as well.

"I had both of them in the same studio at one time giving their input," Chef said. "They definitely sat in the same room and delegated, you know. It's basically about keeping that Cuban Linx vibe alive. When you think of part one, you think of part two to have growth and development to it. We're in good shape: Dre's a hard worker, RZA's definitely a hard worker. They're gonna make sure they get the best outta me. I'm already hard on my music, and just to know I have two powerful pieces that are gonna oversee the project and say, 'You know, Chef ...,' makes me feel good."

Rae has worked with a couple of other producers as well.

"I even got people such as J Dilla, God bless his soul," he said. "He was a very strong producer in the game. There's a couple of other producers I appreciate: [DJ] Scratch, Scram [Jones], some other cats. This is like a superproducer album. To me, it just makes it another level for the kid. I get to really put it down how I want to. I know they gonna orchestrate it to where it sounds how it need to sound." ...

  Kanye West
Kanye West says we'll have to wait quite some time for his next album. Although he's putting out a single called "The Glory" later this year (which was previously slated to be a Common single — see "Common, Kanye Going For 'Glory' On Raw, Soulful New Songs" — but Com decided to pass), an album won't be coming till late 2007.

"I'm not dropping till another year at least. Y'all don't need it right now," he said, noting the abundance of hot releases coming at the end of 2006, including albums from Nas, Game and the Clipse. "There's only but so much room in the CD changer. I'm on Game's album, I'm on Nas' album — it's like Eminem says, mugs be used to it. That's what drives somebody to do a 'Mission Impossible' [which Kanye recently wrote the theme for] where you throw so many instruments that people can't comprehend. It's about falling back sometimes, so people will miss it."

'Ye also said not to expect him to be flooding the market with beats, other than from members of his G.O.O.D. Music fam.

"I'm just gonna work on my album for, like, a year," he said. "I got a lot of responsibility. I got a lot of people who love me and a lot of people who love to hate me. But remember, hate is not the opposite of love, indifference is. 'Cause if you hate it, you still talk about it. Hate is a form of love."

Speaking of which, Kanye hasn't gotten any hate letters from video vixens like Melyssa Ford and Vida Guerra yet, but he might be getting a call or two soon. He produced and raps on Game's "Wouldn't Get Far," which features the MC speaking not too favorably about the models.

"Man. I was sitting there in the studio like, 'What am I about to rap on this?' " he recalled. "I feel like I got put on the spot, so I just put in rap form exactly what would happen. Like, 'Man, Game, you wild. You gonna say all these names?' You know they gonna call me like, 'I can't believe you was on that song. You know it's not true.' " ...

The streets keep calling for Saigon, but everyone has been wondering just when the Yardfather is ever gonna answer. Well, according to Sai, his label head and superproducer Just Blaze is the one to blame — not him.

"I wish he worked a little faster," Sai said jokingly from the Harlem, New York, set of his first video, "Pain in My Life." "But he's doing a lot right now. It ain't me, though: If it was up to me, my album would have been out. But you can't rush greatness, man."

Saigon hinted at a release date for his debut The Greatest Story Never Told, but would only say that the project may finally see the light of day during the first quarter of next year. He did disclose that Blaze backed 10 of the 16 tracks that are currently slated to appear on the album. "The beats is so crazy I almost feel like I'm cheating," a giddy Saigon said. "He gave me his best beats, so don't believe the hype. He ain't give 'em to Jay-Z. He ain't give 'em to Joe Budden. He ain't give 'em to [Fabolous]. He gave them to Saigon. Believe that!"

Other producers expected to make the cut on the album include Cocoa Chanelle, who laced the lead single "Pain in My Life" (featuring "Trigga" Trey Songz), as well as Kanye West. But as far as sharing mic time, Saigon's keeping the guest bars to a minimum. Word is, though, that a certain living legend with his own album dropping by the end of the year might chip in last minute to assist Sai like Jason Kidd. Until then, however, it's all his story, and he's sticking to it.

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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