Mixtape Monday: Lupe Fiasco Plans His Cool Viral Video; Joe Budden Compares Jay-Z To A 'Bully'

Plus: Uncle Murda records track days after being shot; J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League take off with Rick Ross.

Artist: Joe Budden

Representing: Jerz

Mixtape: Mood Muzik 3: The Album

411: Lyrically, Joe Budden is the "Cloverfield" monster. He hasn't put out an album in four years, and every fan of abundantly heady bars should feel cheated. He is one of the best artists not getting a proper shot. He's one of the best, period. While in limbo with Def Jam, his Mood Muzik mixtape series has kept him afloat, and the third installment gets our overwhelming cosign as the first great street CD of 2008. (Hey, Malice and Pusha, what happened with the release of y'all's joint? We're waiting.)

Although a version of the MM3 that DJ On Point helped put together is out on the streets now, the real underground album is coming in February.

"It's being released digitally on Amalgam," Budden said a couple of weeks ago in Harlem. "I think eventually ... you'll only be able to get music digitally. I'd like to jump on that bandwagon. Since my hiatus, I've been big online, so this album is going online."

But Joe hasn't ruled out going back to a major label. Shady Records wouldn't be a bad spot, he said, but in the meantime, while he's finalizing his free agency, Budden is preparing to drop an official album called Padded Room later this year.

"The mood will be lighter," he said. "I progressively go back to that mainstream. We're about six songs in. The record right now that sticks out is 'I Couldn't Help It.' It talks about some situations I had with some rappers' wives. It's pretty self-explanatory."

Joints To Check For:

"Talk 2 Em." "The song started out in one place and ended someplace totally different," Budden said of the record, where he expounds on his frustration with Jay-Z. "That happens a lot on Mood Muzik. Like, the timing just changes from bar to bar. I'm not mad at Jay putting albums out, I'm mad at how other albums get treated. Me being on Def Jam and not releasing an album [in four years], I watched how other albums were treated. You didn't need to be an expert in music to see some things didn't make sense. To put an album in stores when a record only has 300 spins — it doesn't make sense. Start pitting your artists against each other on the same release date — it doesn't make sense. Somebody has to take the blame. Somebody does.

"I don't even attack Jay-Z," he continued. "I attack Shawn Carter, the man in the suit, the man behind the desk. When I come in to have a conversation with you in search of some kind of guidance or information and get a whole bunch of BS in response, there's no other way for an artist to respond. But the difficult part is that you're the greatest rapper. It's like the bully who comes to school, and because he can beat everybody up, he beats everybody up. So that was me saying, 'F you.' If it comes down to going bar for bar with you, I'll do that too. Whatever it takes to get some type of respect on this label, or off the label for that matter, I'm not afraid of you lyrically."

"Dear Diary." "It's weird," Jump Off Joey explained. "A lot of times on the record I can talk about things that I would not talk about off the record or outside the booth or even amongst family and friends. ... I have had some situations where people [who] were in my life ... were no longer in my life. I went back to talking about my child's mother and the situations me and her continuously have. I spoke to her yesterday, and she was like, 'Stop running around talking.' She didn't have a positive response to it. My baby's mom took me to court for talking about her on records. I had to change up how it was done.

"It's just me in the booth," Joe added. "Me and the mic, and I'm venting. Once I do that, I feel better."

"Warfare" (featuring Joell Ortiz). "[Ortiz] reminded me a lot of myself: young guy coming up, spitting extremely hard and just loves music," the Jersey MC said. "He reached out to me. It took us a little while to link up, but we finally did, and we had a great time making the record. ... We didn't want to do the whole thing where [you say], 'I wanna work with you. You MP3 something; I MP3 you something back.' ... We wanted to have a lyrical slugfest, and it sounds that way. ... Me and him are going to be doing a lot of things in the future."

Don't Sleep: Other Notable Selections This Week

» The Raw Report - Shawty Lo: The Real Bankhead Story

» DJ 2 Mello - Undercover RNB: First Look

» DJ Chuck T - Gone But Not Forgotten

» DJ Coolbreeze & Young Jeezy - White Christmas

'Hood's Heavy Rotation: Bubbling Below The Radar

» 50 Cent - "U Ain't Crazy"

» Trey Songz (featuring Lil Wayne) - "Can't Help But Wait" (remix)

» Swizz Beatz (featuring Drag-On) "Hard Knocks"

» CNN - "Hollywood" and "Sensual Seduction" (freestyle)

» Foxy Brown - "Star Cry" (Download a clip of the track here.)

» Re-Up Gang - "20K Money Making Brothers on the Corner"

Fire Starter: Va$htie

She's an Upstate New York girl, Albany to be exact, but the 23-year-old School of the Visual Arts alumna is as NYC as a MetroCard. And as downtown as Canal Street. Born Vashtie Kola, the upstart director's love of film began when her parents made her older brother and sister drag her along with them to the movies. After graduation, her passion eventually landed her a gig in the video and creative department of Def Jam. But her real big break came when she recently funded and directed a clip for the Kanye West/ Lupe Fiasco/ Pharrell Williams mixtape track "Us Placers." The Web video features mini-me versions of the three rap titans, replacing the original stars à la Biggie's "Sky Is the Limit." Next up for Vash is more script-writing and continuing her and her partner's successful 1992-theme parties — where the music is all about the last decade — as well as starting a line of accessories and clothing called Violet. "It's ultra-hard," she said of juggling her many endeavors. "But I'm sure it's satisfying in the end."

Celebrity Faves

Soulja Boy Tell'em might have raised a few eyebrows when he called Bow Wow a hardcore rapper in an interview recently. But the ATLien by way of Mississippi does have good taste when it comes to MCs, even ones he thinks aren't as hot as he is.

"I got two favorites; I say 50 and Kanye," SB said. "But right now, I say I like Lil Wayne a lot, but I wouldn't do a collaboration with him, 'cause he got too many."

Fif or 'Ye, on the other hand, he'd be down to work with. And rather than tell us which one he'd prefer, he offered a diplomatic solution: "Probably both of them," he said, laughing. "Soulja Boy featuring 50 Cent and Kanye." Watch out, world.

The Streets Is Talking: News & Notes From The Underground

When your name is Uncle Murda and your manager's name is Hood, things just go down sometimes. It's just life. "That's how it be in the 'hood," Murda told MTV News about being shot in the head last week. "I was in East New York [Brooklyn], homicide central."

According to published reports, Murda was shot while he and a friend were sitting in a car late Tuesday night. An unidentified man approached the car and began shooting. The bullets shattered the car windows, Murda was hit in the shoulder, and a bullet grazed his head, the reports said. But his manager said it was the other way around: The bullet grazed Murda's shoulder and actually hit his head.

"He got a hard head," Hood said. "As he said, that's from all the years of not listening. His head got real hard over the years."

Even though the two shrug it off now, Murda did go to the hospital after getting popped. At first, he didn't know he was directly hit. It wasn't until Murda's friend told him to check his head that he realized what happened.

"Really, I didn't know I got hit," he said. "They said blood was on my face, but I was thinking that was glass from the car. I was feeling good. I'm up, I was running, doing what I do. I thought everything was good. Then the ambulance came over there, and somebody said, 'I think you got shot in the head.' My man was looking, and he seen a little rip in my hat looking like a hole. That's when I figured I might have a bullet in my head, but it was a cheap bullet."

When contacted by MTV News, police had no further information regarding the incident.

"Maybe it was someone I shot way, way back," Murda speculated.

"I don't know where it's from," Hood explained. "But it's definitely not from [beef with Papoose's crew]."

By Wednesday morning, Murda left the hospital — with the bullet still lodged in his head.

"They said the sh-- might fall out in two to three weeks," he said. "It's only on the surface; it didn't touch the skull or nothing like that."

Two days later, Murda went to the studio to record a track about what happened. He gave Mixtape Monday a sneak preview of it:

"People like, 'Murda, you got shot in the head'/ I said, 'Yeah, but it don't feel like it because I ain't dead'/ I got a bullet in my head, but I feel good/ But a bullet really in my head, I ain't frontin' like Suge/ I ain't trying to be like 'Pac or 50, I'm a G/ I think NYPD trying to kill me." ...

Sit with it, don't sleep on it. Lupe Fiasco's The Cool album is one of those LPs that will take multiple listens to get all its metaphors and bar juggling, the Chicago native insists.

"I think we got a solid body of work together," Lupe said recently in New York. He has a sold-out show at the Nokia Theater on February 2 (the night prior to the Super Bowl) as part of his tour (and he promised special guests such as CRS during the summer leg of his outing). "I think we got an album that people are gonna get. Initially, people enjoyed and loved it, but I think people are going to love it even more once it sits, because it's such a heavy body of work that you gotta break down. ... I think it's gonna re-evolve. It's gonna re-happen!"

Fiasco's follow-up video to "Superstar" is going to be a low-budget affair and head straight to cyberspace. After that, he said some exec at Atlantic records is going to sign off on a big check for the next clip.

"We're shooting a lot of videos," he promised. "The next viral record is gonna be 'Hip-Hop Saved My Life.' We're gonna leak that to [the Net]. The next main video is gonna be 'Paris, Tokyo.' Were planning a huge, big, kinda exotic, grandiose production for that. That'll probably come in February."...

"We Takin' Over," "Holla at Me," "Brown Paper Bag," "100 Million Dollars" — the Miami fraternity of Rick Ross, Cash Money Millionaires Baby and Lil Wayne and Terror Squadians Fat Joe and DJ Khaled might as well stop playing and just do a whole album together. They have collaborated on so many songs, it feels like they're a new supergroup.

"We just putting in work," Rick Ross laughed. "We're keeping the streets excited with good music."

Fat Joe gave a little more insight. All the guys are really great friends, he explained, and a lot of the songs we hear them on together are actually recorded with all the MCs present.

"We're in the same studio; me, Birdman, Weezy, Ross," Joe said. "We're in the same studio every day. People won't believe that. [Cash Money] is in studio A; I'm in studio B; Ross is in C every day. Every day, we're in the parking lot, talking sh--, joking. Weezy is doing some crazy sh--. That's real talk. That's rare too."

Of course, the studio in question is none other than Miami's Hit Factory, a place where you're likely to see Timbaland, Danjahandz, Mariah Carey and Missy Elliott lay down tracks as well.

Obviously with such a kinship, a lot of the songs that come from the ballin' circle of friends happen organically, but it doesn't mean that any of the rappers want to get outshined when recording.

"I have to go hard," Fat Joe said. "That's how I feel every time I go in, even with my best friends. I love Rick Ross; it's not really a competition, but I have to be hot. So when I rhyme with them, it's almost like, 'Yo, step your game up, because I'm stepping mine up,' and they usually do.

"Lil Wayne is too hard to control," Joe added with his trademark Bronx 'hood charm. "His flows are phenomenal. I've heard records for Tha Carter III. I don't know how human beings do this. I think he's incredible."

The next big collaboration is a movie called "H," which stars Ross and Baby.

"It's about some young dudes, man," said the Boss, who is hoping to release his DVD documentary "M.I. Yayo." "Ah, man, it's a movie. We're gonna start filming it this summer. It's gonna be something the streets are going to embrace. We're doing an album with it too. We're just feeding the streets."

Ross' Trilla drops on March 11, and soon after, he wants to get a tour going with Cash Money, Fat Joe, Flo Rida, Trick Daddy and Plies. Most of those guys appear on the new remix to "Speedin'." There's also a remix of "Speedin' " floating around with Chris Brown on the hook. ...

People may be surprised that a good bulk of Rick Ross' Trilla LP was produced by an underground trio of Tampa producers called the J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League. Composed of multi-instrumentalists Rook, Colione and Kenny "Barto" Bartolomei, JL landed four tracks on Ross' sophomore set, including "Maybach Music," featuring Jay-Z, and "Luxury Tax," with a lineup that features Lil Wayne, Young Jeezy and Trick Daddy.

"That joint is epic, [that's] an understatement," Kenny said of "Luxury Tax." "When you listen to it, you'll know. The track is crazy how it came out. It's awesome."

The fellas from J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League have previously landed tracks on albums by Mary J. Blige, Jeezy and Juelz Santana, but working with Ross was the first time they placed so many records on one project. Their music is operatic and soulful.

It started with "Maybach Music," the first track they did for Ross, according to Rook. The beat was made in their Tampa crib when they first met with Ross. Then, after the trio moved to Atlanta, the other records were cut. "Maybach Music" was still going through a few incarnations before they finally mixed it.

"Kenny is there singing [on the song]," Rook explained. "We got some crazy stuff going on that record. It took us a whole week [to make it originally], 'cause we went through five different versions for 'Maybach Music.' But it was worth it. It came out monstrous. It was like five different versions, five different intros. We switched up the verse a few times and had to switch up a few lines because it might have been too close to the sample. We had to totally revamp it to where it was musically right. When we went to mix it, we didn't even have Jay-Z's vocals. We had to wait for it, so we didn't even know how the track was gonna go."

"We had to arrange his verse and certain things with that verse with the instruments," Colione added. "We had to add new instruments. It was like a mixing/recording session. We had to put saxophones in it. We added pianos. It was hectic, but it came out dope."

"[Ross'] first album was like his Reasonable Doubt, and this new one is basically gonna be his Blueprint," Rook said.

"He's experimenting with music and different stuff that's pushing the envelope," Colione said.

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."