Artist and DJ: AZ and DJ Absolut
Representing: Brooklyn and Queens
411: It's hotter than the devil's dirty drawers on Brooklyn's Coney Island boardwalk, but AZ is taking his mind off the heat by laughing at a guy backflipping off the pier into the sand and sharing stories from his youth when he used to come to the legendary spot.
"This was our [Six Flags] Great Adventure," AZ said with a smile as he strolled past Nathan's Hot Dogs.
AZ, one of the most respected wordsmiths of the past decade, has found his second, maybe even third wind. Any talk of retirement is laughed at now. He wants to do his thing for many more albums — and hopefully at least one of those LPs will be with Nas.
Hey, you make one of the most stirring duets in hip-hop history ("Life's a Bitch"), you're bound to be forever bonded in the minds of the fans no matter how great your individual accomplishments. After all these years, people are still asking for a Nas and AZ album. The project isn't coming anytime soon, but AZ was partly inspired by his "homie's" Untitled LP to drop the mixtape N4L (or N---as 4 Life). DJ Absolute came onboard to lend A his ear and supply some beats.
"I said this is the closest thing that I can give the fans to me and him doing an album," AZ said of how his mixtape relates to Nas' album concept. "I'm doing a concept album that is neck and neck with what he's doing. So you know we could put 'em together.
"I also came up with [the title] because I felt like being a n---a, you get rich, you get that master's degree, that Ph.D. — you still a n---a in some people's eyes. So we all n---as for life, regardless of the progress we make in life. We took that and ran with it. On top of that, the influences from N.W.A and how they put it together, they just spoke their minds. I just felt like I wanted to vent."
"Original material for real," DJ Absolut said. "Original music, production — it's a good look. Flight Runner production, beats are serious, lyrics are serious, it's a classic right there, for real."
After years on the indie scene, A told us he's looking to go back on a major label and make more records for years to come.
"Listen: I ain't going nowhere," the Visualizer declared. "I'm here. I'm just trying to put as much music out and stay as relevant as possible. I'm looking for a home now. Once I find the right home, I'm back working. But for now, we got a mixtape August 5th, and I'm doing a soundtrack for a movie I'm executive-producing and starring in called 'Silent Wars.' That should be out like November sometime."
Joints To Check For
» "Knowledge Freedom." "That's one of the joints where I just vented," AZ described. "Knowledge is definitely freedom. But I spoke to you about the language of my peoples, and how we get down, how we live. I'm trying to speak to my peoples and get the point across in that joint."
» "The Secret." "I did that one because I brought my man Charlie Rock to the table," the Brooklyn native described. "He's fresh off the press, and he's serious with it. He's a dart-thrower, and my man Raekwon — I ain't really collab with my man Rae in a while, and that was a good look. We was just sparring. It's even more iller, because we more advanced," he added about working with the Chef now as opposed to a decade ago. "We know we're not just floating around wild. We got a target. Just keeping hip-hop alive right now, that's what it is."
» "Runaway Slave." "To me, it's a record," the former Firm member said, "but in reality, it was a slave's life. I just basically put it in poetic form, and it's like a theatrical musical thing. I mean at the end of the day, I spoke from the bottom of my heart in the song, and the music and the lyrics coincide so much you will feel it when you hear it. It's one of those records that's felt and then the sound effects I put in the back and all of that ... I just made a visual with the lyrical."
Don't Sleep: Other Notable Selections This Week
» DJ E-V - Bitch I'm From Cleveland
» Hell Rell - Top Gunna (The Ruga Edition)
» TearDropz - Dis Iz Y Dis CD Betta Den Dat 1
» Team 20/20 - Rebel Music
'Hood's Heavy Rotation: Bubbling Below The Radar
» Chamillionaire - "Put On" freestyle
» Nas - "Proclamation (N---a Hatred)"
» R. Kelly - "Skin"
» T.I. - "Whatever You Like"
"Pimp haaarrrrd," grind harder. 8Ball & MJG are coming back with another group LP later this year. The record will be released via a joint venture between the Memphis duo's own label (it's so new, the label isn't named yet) and, of course, T.I.'s Grand Hustle imprint. The King of the South recently announced the signing.
MJG, who is about to release his next solo LP, This Might Be the Day, told the Mixtape Monday family that officially aligning with Tip is just working with family.
"It's cool, 360 [degrees]," MJG described. "We been knowing Tip since he was in his teens running around the studio, so it's all good. We been riding with him and collaborating with him since he first blew up on the mic."
The Streets Is Talking: News & Notes From The Underground
The Clipse's Re-Up Gang LP is done. August 5 is the release date. Nobody's sitting on their hands, though. Pusha T says he and brother Malice are working with a gang of producers on their third duo LP. Kanye West is a name the brothers have their eyes on. Of course, Pharrell Williams has already been in the lab with the group.
"We're recording the Clipse album right now," Pusha told us last week in New York on the set of N.E.R.D.'s "Everybody Nose" remix video. Kanye and Lupe Fiasco were also present. "[We're] working on 'Till the Casket Drops, the third album. That drops this winter.
"For everybody who don't know, we're putting out The Clipse Presents: The Re-Up Gang through Koch [Records]. That's the Re-Up Gang album, of course," Pusha added. "You'll love it, enjoy it. First single off there is 'Fast Life.' 'Fast Life' is just a celebration of the high life. A congratulations to all those who are still making it and living life to the fullest in this hard world that we're living in."
His older brother, the lyrical menace Malice, simply described the record as "summertime fun with Scott Storch." Scotty produced the song.
Meanwhile, the Clipse's good friend Fam-Lay — a fellow VA native — is working on his next mixtape, Dirty Music. The first track we've heard is called "War Music."
" 'War Music' is actually a sample from a song called 'Fever' that's on the 'Last King of Scotland' [soundtrack]," Fam said. "My man Shay [Haley] from N.E.R.D. used to play it all the time, and me and him would just be vibing off it. The beat is so crazy. I was like, 'I'mma off of that joint,' and I did a freestyle on it called 'War Music,' which is coming out on my mixtape Dirty Music. [The tape] is a collection of afro-funk, afro-beats. It was something funny to do. I'm doing the whole mixtape like that." ...
Over the years, Jermaine Dupri and Atlanta DJ Greg Street seemed to be maaaad cool. You would see them around the ATL kicking it at functions and even hear them shouting each other out on radio. Well, those days seem over. The two have been publicly at odds since Dupri's "The DJ Is Dead" video blog a few weeks ago.
Jermaine explained himself as not dissing all DJs, just the ones who have hidden agendas and are not contributing to the advancement of the hip-hop culture. Greg's not hearing it and wants to take it the streets with "Don Chi Chi." No, obviously Street doesn't want some immature fight. He wants to battle Jermaine in a face-off behind the turntables. Tens of thousands would theoretically be going to the winner to be donated to pee-wee baseball teams in Decatur.
"We're gonna do three clubs," Street proposed of the battle. "We're gonna go to the Southside where he's from, the Eastside where his club is and the Westside: Bankhead. Best two out of three. All the money goes to charity. I'm black and ugly; he's young, fly and flashy. We'll see how much money he puts up since 'money ain't a thing.' "
"I ain't doing that," JD shrugged off about the challenge. "That's just to blow him up. Even if he loses, n---as is gonna be like, 'Yo, JD, why you battle him?' He's gonna lose. I DJ for real. He would lose, but the fact of the matter is, even him losing would gain [Greg] so much momentum. I wouldn't do that. I rock out. I been doing that before I started making records. That's how I started producing: DJing and all that. This ain't no game for me. When I heard that, I laughed that off. That's like somebody asking me 10 years ago to battle me in dancing. I would have bust anybody's ass in dancing. I'm a b-boy. That's what I am. I wish him the best, [but] I would never help him keep promoting himself by doing a battle like that."
JD just announced the signing of Q Da Kid to his new Tag label through Island Def Jam. He's also producing the entire LP of his new artist Dondria.
Greg Street recently released his mixtape Six O'Clock Worldwide.
"Me and Mannie Fresh redid [a song featured in Geico commercials]," Street said of the street CD. "We made a strip-club anthem out of it. I love Mannie Fresh. We have Blood Raw featuring Young Buck. Keri Hilson featuring Snoop Dogg. Lloyd's 'Girls Around the World.' My mixtape is great."
"The Fly Joc" is also prepping a new official LP for Interscope to be released August 26. The set is called Greg Street: Certified Worldwide. Nappy Roots' "Good Day" is the lead cut. Rick Ross, Polow Da Don, Yung Joc, T-Pain, Rich Boy and Lil Wayne are among the other hip-hop gladiators with contributions to the project.
For other artists featured in Mixtape Monday, check out Mixtape Mondays Headlines.