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Fire Starter: Rik Cordero
This Q-U sharpshooter, producer and writer is the most-buzzed about thing on the Net in hip-hop circles since De-Haven began popping up on YouTube talking about Jay-Z. Cordero, who is 28 and originally hails from the Philippines, got his big break a couple of months ago when Jay-Z asked him to direct a Web-only trailer for his "Blue Magic" video. But by then, Cordero already had a list of credits longer than a Supernatural freestyle. He's directed trademark gritty, up-close-and-personal clips for Ali Vegas, Joell Ortiz and, more recently, Ghostface, Styles P and Beanie Sigel. Next up, Cordero is set to film promo spots for the new season of "The Wire" and get his first full-length feature completed sometime in the New Year.


Mixtape Monday: Lil' Kim Previews Ms. G.O.A.T.; Raekwon, Method Man Explain The Clan's Issues With RZA

— by Shaheem Reid and Jayson Rodriguez, with additional reporting by Rahman Dukes and Brennan Williams

Artist/DJs: Lil' Kim, Mister Cee and DJ Whoo Kid

Representing: "BK All Day" and Queens

Mixtape: Ms. G.O.A.T

411: Lil' Kim is coming back, and she's realigned herself with a bunch of fellas that were around for the beginning of her career. Lance "Un" Rivera is managing her, Trackmasters are producing her new album, and Mister Cee is helping put out her new mixtape.

"No need for the gym because he be working me out/ For me, he's got a huge appetite," she sings on one track, "Chillin' Tonight." "Lick my ice cream like a tasty delight. ... We ain't watching pornos, we watching our own sex tapes."

Kim, Cee, Un, and the Trackmasters' Tone and Poke had smiles on their faces as they recently played tracks from Ms. G.O.A.T at a studio in New York. "Chillin' Tonight," which is already on the radio — "It's the street record that's been kind of buzzing throughout New York City and throughout the country," Cee said — and will be featured on her upcoming LP, played loud, with the Queen Bee eating Mr. Chows and rapping along.

"I never did a mixtape before, so this is like ... a new album," Kim said of the effort, which comes two years after her last studio LP, The Naked Truth. "I got my boy Mister Cee. He's been holding it down since the Big days. He's part of the family."

"It's a collaboration of freestyles, brand-new songs," Cee elaborated about the mixtape. "Shout out to the Trackmasters — they helped put it together. Whoo Kid is ... helping me put the tape together. It's incredible. I don't even think it deserves to be a mixtape. It's like an album."

Ms. G.O.A.T hit the streets this week, while Kim's yet-untitled proper album will come in early '08. She says her time on Atlantic Records is over, and that she'll release her next album on her own Queen Bee Records in conjunction with the Flavor Unit (the Unit are also sharing co-managing duties with Un). Imperial Records will distribute the project.

Besides "Chillin' Tonight," Ms. G.O.A.T features her new duet with 50 Cent, "Wanna Lick (Magic Stick 2)," as well as Gucci Mane's "Freaky Gurl" remix; a remix to Britney Spears' "Gimme More" called "Kimme More"; and "Kim and Shamel," which introduces her new artist.

"He's gonna put an album out next," Kim said of Shamel. "We gonna go full-throttle with him. He's like a cross between Fabolous and Mase. I believe in him. He's nice with the pen."

Joints To Check For:

  • "Ms. G.O.A.T." "When you hear the track, you gonna know what it is. Shout out to MC Lyte," Mister Cee said of the track, which features Kim redoing Lyte's "Cha Cha Cha." "In 2007, Kim is claiming she's the greatest female rapper of all time, but she's also paying homage to rappers like MC Lyte and other female rappers that's been putting it down. That's what we tried to come across [with] on this tape. ... Claiming that '07, '08, '09, '10 is all about Ms. G.O.A.T."

    "A lot of the ideas on the mixtape came from Mister Cee himself and my producers Trackmasters," Queen Bee said. "Everybody here is like a big family, and we been banging out song after song. [I heard some songs and was like,] 'Cee, you sure it's gonna work?' He was like, 'Trust me.' And you know what? He owns the radio."

  • "Rock on Wit Ya Bad Self." "I redid Lady of Rage's 'Afro Puffs,' " Kim told Mixtape. "A lot of people always ask me who's my female MC inspiration? I always say Salt-N-Pepa, MC Lyte, Roxanne Shanté. But Rage is my all-time favorite. It's crazy. She's the one that inspired me to wanna rhyme and say, 'I could do this.' Her version [of 'Afro Puffs'] is still hot to this day. Now you gonna hear Lil' Kim's version. Rock on with my bad ass."

  • "The Miseducation of Queen Bee" "She redid the 'Lost Ones' track," Cee began breaking it down. "Lyrically ... I told Kim earlier that this is the best I've ever heard [her] in her whole career, and that's even including ... the first album, Hard Core."

    Cee also pointed out another track, called "It's Kim, B---hes (Get That Money)." "It's our favorite because it's Kim doing lyrical exercise," he said of the tune. "Throughout the years, so many fans and music aficionados focus on Kim's sex appeal. What we really wanted to do was focus on her lyrical ability and how she delivers on tracks."

Don't Sleep: Other Notable Selections This Week
  • Rick Ross - Trilla: The Mixtape
  • Fat Joe - The Crack House
  • DJ Furious Styles and DJ Dub - The Industry vs. Joe Budden
  • DJ Dub and Saigon - The Medicine
  • dLux - Trill N---az Don't Die: The Pimp C Mixtape
  • DJ Bobby Black - DJ Bobby Black Presents: N---a - The Nasir Jones Story
  • Pudgee P - Riot or Diet Volume 3: Mob or Starve

'Hood's Heavy Rotation: Bubbling Below The Radar
  • Shawty Lo (featuring Young Jeezy, Plies, E-40, Gorilla Zoe and Lil Wayne) - "Dey Know" remix
  • Prodigy - "ABC" and "My World Is Empty Without You"
  • Memphis Bleek (featuring Uncle Murda) - "Let It Off"
  • Rocko Da Don (featuring Rick Ross, T.I. and Young Jeezy) - "Umma Do Me" remix
  • Rick Ross (featuring Mannie Fresh) - "Japanese Denim"
  • Gucci Mane - "16 Fever"

Celebrity Faves

  Styles P
Styles P loves Ray J's work, and we're not talking about the infamous Kim Kardashian sex tape either. Brandy's brother pops up on Styles' recently released Super Gangster (Extraordinary Gentleman) LP, on "Let's Go."

"I got this joint that's extremely feel-good and partying," SP told us. "Ray J got one of my favorite party joints of all time, 'Wait a Minute.' ["Wait a minnnute, he sings.] That [lyric is also in] my joint. I was thinking of his joint on there and just went in."

The Streets Is Talking: News & Notes From The Underground Raekwon the Chef recommends that you go buy the Wu-Tang Clan's 8 Diagrams LP when it comes out Tuesday, but he can't honestly say it's the Clan's best work.

"I'm supporting it," he said backstage at the recent J.A.M. Awards, which took place at New York's Hammerstein Ballroom. "Go get it. I'm on it. I laid down the dressing on that. But like I said, it could've been stronger! I know the capabilities that we all have when we all sit in the room together. And then, at the end of the day, it was leaning towards RZA's world. I told RZA, 'This is a Wu-Tang Clan album. This ain't RZA's album.' If we say, 'We need this to proceed,' respect what we need to proceed.

"You dealing with a whole crew collectively, and [our] collective thoughts," Rae added. "You gotta keep that a part of the protocol. That wasn't a part of the protocol — we still try to give this man as much props as he deserves, 'cause he did so much. It's like listening to [Michael] Jordan, saying, 'Follow my hand.' But at the same time, Jordan ain't been around for a while. So now it's gotta be about the team. Ain't no I's in team. When Jordan's head gets too big, you gotta tell Jordan that's what it ain't about. It's team."

The Clan's dirty laundry has been aired out in recent weeks, with Rae and Ghostface Killah alleging creative and financial neglect by the RZA. The pair say they've basically been speaking for the rest of the group.

"It's a lot going on, and like I said, this is not no publicity stunt," Rae maintained. "This is more or less about men understanding men and men respecting men. At the end of the day, I got a family to feed, kid. ... I got children that's going to school that I'm paying for sh-- for them to make it, and I refuse to sit here and act like another n---a is gonna tell me how I need to do what I gotta do. If it ain't how it used to be, then something's the matter. So, at the end of the day, it's just a n---a's water broke. Like a b---h being pregnant, she can't take it no more, her sh-- go blow!"

The Chef told us he explained his discontent to the RZA a while ago.

"I let n---a know about his wicked ways before I [came] out and [addressed] this [in public]," he said. "So n---a never say, 'Oh, Chef did it out the blue on some ...' N---a, you know how I feel. ... It's tough love, but you gonna respect me. ... I can [opine] on how I feel, and if I feel it ain't right ... like I told RZA, 'Yo, I don't get nothing outta trying to shoot at you. I hope you don't get nothing out of shooting at me.' But respect that we supposed to be like this. The ill sh-- is, it's 10 years later, 15 years later. You mean to tell me you don't look at me like a general? You got a problem."

Method Man, who was under the impression that the album was being pushed back until next year, is also not pleased with how the project turned out and even more disappointed that the dissention has been made public.

"When n---as went in to do the album, it was little discrepancies here and there," he admitted. "Everybody talking and sh--. Everybody talking at RZA and not to him. Him being who he is and where he came from, of course he's goanna poke his chest out. And it's gonna be a standoff. [8 Diagrams] is the results of it right here. I don't think anybody is listening to anybody. What I did as a constant, I spit on what I was required to spit on. I'm not trying to throw no monkey wrench in anything. I strived to make the album sound like an album."

Meanwhile, the author of 1995's classic Only Built 4 Cuban Linx ... album says he's spearheading an LP called Shaolin vs. the Wu-Tang and that it will feature basically the entire Clan, except for the RZA.

"That's how I feel right now," Rae barked. "It's coming and it's gonna be a lesson learned. That's a lesson to bust the Abbott's ass and let him know what we do. At the end of the day, if nobody don't do nothing, Chef's gonna show and prove. You [can only] hold in but so much, my dude."

While Meth feels that the LP could have been better, the RZA remains his brother.

"I love the sh-- out of RZA; that's my mutha----ing n---a, right there," Tical said. "Thick and thin and back again. However n---as feel about the god, that's how they feel. But they can't speak for everybody. So if my name pops up in anything and you ain't hear it from the horse's mouth, don't believe what you heard.

"Hell yeah, on my behalf," Meth continued about whether the fences can be mended. "I speak for myself: Sh-- can be salvaged. Yep. Hell yeah, and the gods know how, too. I ain't at liberty to say with you, but n---as know how they can fix it with me." ...

OK, let's just hope it happens this time. Whatever problem Lil' Fame had in Jamaica that was hindering M.O.P. from putting out their G-Unit debut seems to be over — we saw Billy, Fame and Fame's passport less than two weeks ago. They say the album should be out in summer '08. There will be solo street albums and a heavy-metal rock project beforehand.

"I'mma be working with Billy, he's doing my album, " Fame said with a smile.

"I'mma be working with Fame," he's on my album, Billy added.

"It's been some time since M.O.P. been out, so we wanna make sure everybody gets what they expect from M.O.P. Anything that comes after [as far as collaborations], if it adds [to what we're doing], then we're down with it. It just gotta work. This [new album] right here is something serious. This is something we been doing for years, and people love what we do."

Especially 50 Cent. The duo say he doesn't want them to switch up their style despite the long hiatus.

"One thing about any other artist we been signed to, they signed M.O.P. for what M.O.P. does. They don't wanna tamper with that. They're M.O.P. fans. I appreciate that. There's a lot of artists that's M.O.P. fans, and we're their fans also. We need that to feed off each other.

"We got countless music for the M.O.P. album," Billy continued. "Lil' Fame [has been] doing serious production across the board. We have a heavy-metal joint that we're ... putting together with a lot of different artists. ... We're doing about six or seven things, like major things, in one shot.

"If you guys are missing M.O.P., don't worry about it," he concluded, " 'cause when we send M.O.P. at you, we sending it to you in rolls and waves." ...

  "Tupac Assassination: Conspiracy or Revenge?"
The ongoing investigation into the murder of Tupac Shakur continues to present surprises. In October, the Thug Life rapper's former bodyguard, retired LAPD officer Kevin Hackie, revealed to the audience at a screening of the documentary "Tupac Assassination: Conspiracy or Revenge?" that he was also covertly working with the Feds to investigate racketeering suspicions against Suge Knight and Death Row Records.

The information caused quite a stir in hip-hop circles and was another twist for fans and family of the late rapper to deal with. But Hackie said officers at the screening weren't being as upfront with details about the case, especially considering much of the information, he said, is noted in police files.

"There was a cop there [LAPD detective Greg Kading], and basically he was blowing a smokescreen to the audience about police procedures and what was going on with the homicide and all this other sh--," Hackie explained. "And in a sense, I just basically got pissed off because everything he's telling the audience is sh-- I did 12 to 13 years ago. I took it personally."

Hackie's comments that night have since launched him and Reggie Wright Jr. — the former head of Death Row security — into the spotlight. The two began tossing barbs in the press over who was responsible for 2Pac's death. Wright claimed Hackie was involved in shady dealings and was an informant for the FBI, not working undercover. He also claimed Hackie's continued lateness resulted in the rapper's death. Hackie allegedly didn't originally make the trip to Las Vegas the night 2Pac died because he had other matters scheduled. Wright claimed that because of Hackie's known tardiness, 'Pac took off for the fight without a full detail.

Hackie, on the other hand, accuses Wright — who also served as the day-to-day general manger of Death Row while Knight was jailed — of allegedly being a crooked cop and conspiring with Knight to murder 2Pac. "Reggie knows what I know about the gun, and I'll just leave it at that," Hackie told us, referring to the weapon used to shoot 2Pac.

Hackie has been so insistent in his claims, he recently made headlines for challenging Wright to take a lie-detector test to prove Wright's innocence. Hackie said he he'd pay his former "best friend" 100 grand if he passes. The two — who haven't spoken in 10 years Hackie — were set to meet last week in an arrangement made by a Fox News affiliate in Los Angeles who would televise the polygraph procedure. But Hackie explained Wright backed out.

"It's the perfect crime," Hackie said, referring to the police blunders and number of deaths of witnesses. "Orlando Anderson shot 2Pac. There's documents, search warrants. There's no doubt about it — you can contact Las Vegas Metropolitan Police. That's been proven. But those who conspired with [him] obviously is what we're looking at now." ...

  Shawty Lo
It's good to be Shawty Lo right now, but it's also bad to be him right now, too. The Bankhead, Georgia, rapper has the biggest record in the A at the moment with his horn-stuttering "Dey Know," however. The downside to all the love is that his voice sounds rougher than DMX eating rocks. Shawty had a show in Georgia the night before talking to us, and it was hard figuring out what he was saying at times.

"It went great," Shawty said, in a crackling voice. "It was a club joint, about an hour away from Atlanta."

Funny thing is, according to Shawty, he wasn't even supposed to be making rap-star moves. He wanted to be more like Baby from Cash Money before he became the Birdman and started rapping. But flossers floss, and after folks kept saying he looked the part of a rapper, he decided to try it out. He founded D4L, and five years ago set up his studio, which birthed the foursome's track "Betcha Can't Do It Like Me."

Before the group could get things in motion, though, Shawty went away for a short stint on a drug charge, and "Laffy Taffy" took off while he was in jail.

"At first I was like, 'Nah, that ain't it,' " he said of the track when he heard it over the phone in prison. "But three months later, I got out and people went crazy over the song in the club. So that wasn't our style, but that got us the check."

Shawty then started tinkering around in the studio, making tracks on his own, and ended up recording "I'm the Man," his first street hit. He thought it was just luck, but after hearing people say D4L was nothing without Fabo, Shawty kept at it and eventually broke out with "Dey Know."

"I ain't been rapping but two years," Shawty said. "I don't really [think of] myself [as a] rapper, I just be telling my life. I'm a finesse-r. I got a slow flow, that's my style."

It was enough for Asylum to sign him to a solo deal. And now he's gearing up to drop his debut, Units in the City,, which is set to be released January 15 and, so far, feature collbos with his crew and Gucci Mane. His all-star remix of "Dey Know" is starting to heat up too. It's just more reason Shawty made the right choice, he said.

"I got bonds with most of them on the song," he said. "Jeezy and Plies is my homeboys, Luda is my people, man. It just happened, it came together. Wayne, he was on my 'I'm the Man' remix. ... They know it's my time, so they stepping in like, 'Let's show the world this is that guy.' "

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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