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Fire Starters: Kidrobot
Yeah, the toy and apparel retailer has some really crazy toys, but we're into big-boy thangs, right? Kidrobot's apparel is kind of fly. The hoodies are crazy, the tees are straight-up dope, and the fitted hats are perfect to get your stunt on. The only setback is that Kidrobot is not for the more robust fellas — their sizes only go up to XL.

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

Artist : Nas

Representing: Keeping hip-hop alive

Mixtape: The Prophecy, Volume 2: The Beginning of the N

411: No question about it, Nas is putting out one of the most provocative albums of the year just off the name alone — Hip-Hop Is Dead ... The N. Some of his peers from the South like Ludacris, T.I., Young Jeezy and Lil Wayne have taken exception to the title and have been very public about their displeasure. But the King of Queensbridge said everyone — including himself — has played a role in hip-hop's demise.

We just heard his album in its entirety, and it ends with a glimmer of optimism on the song "Hope." He says hip-hop will never die. That's Nas for you — he knows how to get people worked up and debating. Esco and Statik Selektah have paired for this mixtape, where they actually go back into the N's files for some of his slept-on gems ("One on One" is definitely one of our faves), some of his recent guest spots and even some joints from his latest album.

Joints To Check For:

  • "Talk of New York" (Hard to Earn Mix). Nas really sounds like a young MC on the mic. If you listen to his voice, it still has that freshness from the Illmatic days. Here, Statik mixes Nas' obscure underground joint "Talk of New York" with several beats from Gang Starr's Hard to Earn album: "Mass Appeal," "Now You're Mine" and "DWYCK."

  • "One on One." This was originally from the soundtrack to "Street Fighter" (yeah, that fiasco of a flick starring Jean-Claude Van Damme). This really didn't get too much play other than on mixtapes when it came out, but lyrically, this is one of Nas' best portraits. Thank God he didn't get into the "Street Fighter" character references too tough as he raps about handling problems in the mean streets of QB. "Try hard or die hard/ Chances of surviving the game are like trying to feed Allah lard."

  • "The Foulness." True Nas fans know this one really well — it first saw release on a DJ Clue mixtape. The game, especially in New York, was thick at the time. Big was still alive, Jay-Z was just releasing Reasonable Doubt and if you listen to Nas' freestyle, he was trying to hold onto his top spot at the time.

Don't Sleep: Other Notable Selections This Week
  • DJ Whoo Kid and Katt Williams - POW! Radio, Volume 5: Pimpin Pimpin
  • Statik Selektah and Nas - The Prophecy, Volume 2: The Beginning of the N
  • Talib Kweli - Blacksmith: The Movement
  • Wiz Hoffa, Superstar Jay and DJ Chuck T - The Doe Stackas: Stacka-Mania

Click here for more of Mixtape Monday ...

'Hood's Heavy Rotation: Bubbling Below The Radar
  • Lloyd (featuring Andre 3000 and Nas) - "You" remix
  • Saigon - "Dreamz"
  • Young Jeezy - "Mr. 17.5"

Celebrity Faves

Usher said music today is not really exciting him, but there are a few soulful guys he has to tip his cap to. "I applaud individuals like Robin Thicke. I think he has the best album of the year," he said last week of The Evolution of Robin Thicke, the R&B singer's under-the-radar October release. "Because of his situation or the way this industry goes, he may not be heavily publicized or brought to light, but in my opinion, he has one of the greatest albums out. He's the type of artist you have to get his catalog and listen to the whole thing to really understand and grasp who he is as an artist. I feel artists like Robin Thicke can truly make a difference. I feel artists like John Legend and Justin Timberlake are really creating a great type of music, doing something that's different."

The Streets Is Talking: News & Notes From The Underground

Last week, Snoop Dogg said West Coast artists shouldn't hate on each other. Apparently the Game agrees.

"Us on the West Coast, we are the biggest and worst enemies of our own self," Game said. In last week's Mixtape Monday, Snoop called for Game and Ras Kass to make peace. "Every time somebody from the West rises — I think Snoop will tell you the same thing — [some other West Coast artists] will try to hate you down. You just gotta keep your head up, man. ... A lot of these guys are cats I tried to help. You gotta help yourself more than I can help you. I don't think they understand that. But I got love for all my West Coast MCs, anybody from the West Coast. I am the West Coast."

Game says at one time, he too had a little hate in his blood and sparked off a feud with Xzibit. The beef officially ended a few months ago when X-to-da-Z recorded a verse for the Game's collaboration with Snoop, "California Vacation."

"I brought the track to Snoop and said, 'This joint is a West Coast joint,' " Game said of how the song materialized. "I said I didn't want to do it if it's not 100 percent what it used to be. He said, 'Fo sho, nephew.' He laid it down.

"I took it back to the studio, I was gonna finish the third verse," he continued. "Xzibit walks through the door. ... Nose snarling, I turned into a pit bull when I saw Xzibit. There was some friction between me and Xzibit, and it was by me — me being a disrespectful West Coast artist. I said some things about Xzibit, he said some things back through the media. There was always hatred. I had that West Coast hatred. I was telling you about some of these young guys who have hate, but I shook it fast. [X] reached out his hand, I reached out mine. I told him I had this West Coast verse, played me and Snoop's verse, he blew a little something, wrote a little something, and it is what it is: 'California Vacation.' West Coast unity." ...

  Jamie Foxx
Since Jesse Jackson called for the abolishment of the N-word in the wake of the Michael Richards fiasco a few weeks ago, his idea has been meant with mixed reaction. Actor/singer Jamie Foxx said he's definitely not going to stop using the word because of Jackson.

"That's crazy. That's nuts," Foxx said. "I don't understand Michael Richards and Jesse Jackson standing together. That negates everything you've done right now.

"In this situation, Kramer needs to go away, get himself together and let people forget about him." ...

Alchemist said he has produced Prodigy's entire Return of the Mac mixtape. The only question now is if it will come out officially or on the streets.

"We already did videos for it and everything," Alchemist said recently in New York. "P did three videos. It's P bugging out. It's dope."

Al said he and the Mobb Deep rapper were reminiscing one day and came out with the concept for the mixtape. "Basically me and P were talking, watching [Capone-N-Noreaga's] 'LA LA' video [featuring Prodigy]. ... I was like, 'Yeah, that sh-- was crazy. We gotta go back to that time frame. Not do your old style, but let's go back to that feeling.' That's where we came up with the name Return of the Mac. It sounds like some pimp sh--. We just flipped it. ... We flipped a lot of samples from the blaxploitation films. We chopped them up and looped them. They came out dope."

Alchemist said that when 50 Cent heard the material, he flipped out and immediately thought about releasing it on a much grander scale than your neighborhood bootlegger. "Now that 50 heard it, he's trying to figure out how we could put it out officially," Alchemist said. "But there's no way it can come out officially. It's riddled with samples. If they try to put it out for real, they'll ruin it."

Regardless, Al insisted, "It's straight P through the whole tape. We only have one guest appearance. P is going in. This whole sh-- is hot. Me and him always collaborate well." ...

It looks like 50 is trying to cover every corner of the map with the rappers on his G-Unit roster. He's got a full contingent from New York with Mobb Deep, M.O.P., Lloyd Banks and Tony Yayo. Obviously Young Buck has the Tennessee flag in his palm, and Spider Loc is trying to be the next Cali phenom.

The next spot Fif has his eyes on for representation is the City of Brotherly Thug. Philly rapper Gillie Da Kid said he sat down with 50 a couple of weeks ago in New York to discuss business. "Maybe I will get down with the team, who knows?" a coy Gillie told us. "50 was talking beautifully."

  Gillie Da Kid
As you may have heard, Young Buck gave GDK an open invite to join the team on Whoo Kid's G-Unit radio show recently after declaring war on common enemy Cash Money Records. Gill said the meeting with 50, however, was set up prior to Young Buck's comments (he made fun of Cash Money's Lil Wayne and Baby kissing to show affection).

Though Gillie said he's more interested in signing with the Jimmy Iovines of the world, he acknowledged the love Buck showed him. "It takes a real n---a that's already sold a couple million records to reach out to someone who's still on the way up," Gillie said. "I haven't talked to Young Buck, never met him, but he's a real n---a."

For his part, Wayne wasn't too pleased with Buck continuing to speak about his business. "I don't give a f--- about what he thinks or said," Wayne told Complex magazine in it's upcoming December/January issue. "I'm rich! I'm something to talk about. He should have been promoting his album."

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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