Mixtape Mondays: Dame Grease

When not busy blessing feature-film circuit with hip-hop-based scores, Dame Grease acts as vanguard for what's good in the 'hood.

Name: Dame Grease

Mixtape: What's Really Hood Vol. 1

Hometown: Uptown, New York

Joints to check for: "Me Being Me" by Meeno, "Back on the Blizzy" by Grafh, "Did It All" by Vita and Magic Brown, "Mega Bytes" by Cardan and German Luger freestyle

Previous mixtapes: None

The 411: Dame Grease is no stranger to the hip-hop game. For the past few years, he's been producing his brand of uptown, street-stomping beats for everyone from Nas to his longtime friend DMX. Through his connect with X, Grease was able to get his hands into the lucrative pot of feature film scoring, particularly with "Exit Wounds," "Cradle 2 the Grave" and the upcoming "Never Die Alone."

Even though Grease has been making the rounds in Tinseltown, he never wants to leave his roots alone and forget about producing sounds for the block. With What's Really Hood, Grease married his platinum beats with MCs whom he feels has the potential to cement themselves as major forces in hip-hop.

"I took an ear-to-the-street approach," Grease said of the mixtape. "My whole aim was to get the hottest cats from the mixtapes, dudes that got the same buzz as 50 when he was coming up, and give them my original tracks to rhyme over."

Grease, who put out his major-label compilation, Live on Lennox Ave., featuring appearances from DMX, Nas, Scarface and Silkk the Shocker, among others, in 2000, says the mixtape is what the album should have been: MCs on the underground level going for broke on the mic.

"I just wanted to try something different, give the rap fans some real rap," said Grease, who has recently finished songs for projects by X, Carl Thomas and Yukmouth. "I wanted dudes who have something to prove."

Besides his own Lennox Ave. boys, which include Meeno, a former member of Harlem World, also included are "Making the Band" alumnus Jae Mill, battle rap specialist Shaheed the Posta Boy and estranged Murder Inc. MC Vita.

On "Mega Bytes," Grease's fellow uptown representer, Cardan promises he will follow in the footsteps of Harlem rhymes kings like Cam'ron and Loon.

"I been doing this since the H-world crack days," he raps over Grease's computer-generated funk. "Back in '89 with Eightball jack days/ Now I'm on the cover of your gotdamn rap page/... I'm on a mission for scrilla and I ain't stopping till I'm getting it."

You have to listen very closely to keep up with all the metaphors Queens' Grafh spits on "Back on the Blizzy." Like he does on most of his verses, Grafh manipulates his rhyme flow, effortlessly bending his words while talking about getting ticketed by the hip-hop police because his stop-and-go rims were spinning too fast and because he's taking target practice with soda cans.

Grease, who just built a new music studio in New York, says the mixtape took just about a month to complete. After dropping his CD of beats off to contacts throughout the five boroughs, most of the line throwers ventured to his studio to record their vocals. Later on this year, he's hoping to put out a second volume of his mixtape and hopefully feature more collaborations by chosen rappers.

For other artists featured in Mixtape Mondays, check out Mixtape Mondays Headlines.