Mid-Season's Finest: ATL's "Birthday Bash"
First off, I'm so tired of hearing about that Brett Favre! My Giants knocked you out the box last year. Packers, just trade him already. I hate turning on "Sports Center" every night and hearing about this dude. ... OK, now let's get to the business at hand. This week, we're not bringing you our traditional mixtape pick of the week. It's time to step back to look at some of the best things we've been a part of, listened to or watched so far this year. We'll be doing so periodically for the rest of the summer. In the first installment, how could we not shout out the best ensemble one-off show of the year?The Birthday Bash concert held last month in Atlanta was just plain foolery! My partner in crime, Rahman Dukes, and I went down and had a chance to behold the Dirty South putting on! It was one for the record books: surprises by Usher and Kanye West, Gucci Mane pulling out his ridiculous jewelry, and that giant poster Shawty Lo hung onstage proclaiming, "A new King has been born," classic. Tip's and Jeezy's performances go without saying, and Plies really surprised us. Enough yapping, check it out in the above video. Next week, we're bringing you the new mixtape by one of the most controversial men in hip-hop. He recently had his own birthday bash.
— Shaheem Reid, MTV News hip-hop editor
Don't Sleep: Other Notable Selections This Week
OK. You want to hear some mixtape records? We're not going to leave you in the lurch after all. Check out Icadon's new joint with Tony Touch below.
'Hood's Heavy Rotation: Bubbling Below The Radar
» The Game (featuring Lil Wayne) - "My Life"
» Pleasure P - "Luckiest Man"
» Lloyd (featuring Plies) - "Year of the Lovers"
» Joe Budden - "Who (Part 3)"
» Max B - "Cake"
» Re-Up Gang - "Money"
Jermaine Dupri supplied tracks to Nas' Untitled way back when it was still called Nigger. Although the young, fly, flashy and very successful producer didn't make the cut, he's still a fan of how Esco hasn't let his lyricism diminish and continues to set an example for other MCs.
"I think he really sees the game needs him," JD opined. "I can see it in his face and body that he's in a place where he knows the game needs him. I think [the album] is hot. Nas is definitely an album maker."
The Streets Is Talking: News & Notes From The Underground
Last week, Nas told MTV News that he was dreaming about doing entire albums with Dr. Dre and DJ Premier. There's one other person he wants to go for an extended play with, a collaborator who may be a little easier to wrangle than the two production greats: his wife, Kelis.
"Me and my wife was thinking about doing this record together," he said.
Nas also said that since he has so many unreleased records in the can, it would be very logical to put out a Lost Tapes 2. But let's be very clear, the Queens legend isn't pulling the plug on Untitled anytime soon. It was the #1 album in the country in its first week of release, and more singles are coming. "Hero," produced by Polow Da Don, set the table for him.
"I was almost gonna not do a single, but I wanted a song I could hear in the clubs, 'cause I knew the album didn't have that," he said of the last-minute addition to his project. "I wanted a song that I could hear when I'm poppin' bottles. That's what 'Hero' was for me. Polow was one of my favorite guys; he's just a nice-ass guy. ... I was like, 'No single, no video. Let's just make this a record that we talk about.' "
Nas said he did take into account the people's opinions.
"Fans would have been like, 'But why he did it like that?' "
One of the songs that stick out to Nas from his new album is its (un)title track.
"I look at a lot of people who died trying to fight for freedom, like Che, Malcolm, Martin, Gandhi, all the way to Bunchy Carter, the Panthers," he explained. "So many different people from all over the world. And that just made me go, 'Damn.' You know, everybody says, 'Why'd they shoot down the people who are righteous? Why do they shoot down the people who just want things to be right?' It makes everyone scared to stand up. So even if you don't believe with [Louis] Farrakhan's beliefs, you gotta say the man dedicated his whole life to standing up for something that he believed in.
"He is proof that you can live to be old," Nas continued. "Not saying, 'Go say what Farrakhan is saying,' that's that man. But if you have something that you have to say, but you feel like ... your life is threatened cause of it, and you need examples [look at Farrakhan]."
On the track, Nas rhymes about standing up for his own convictions.
"In the beginning [of the song], it says, 'No revolutionary gets old/ Or so I'm told/ You're left full of bullet holes when you tell the people go free/ Oh? It's just a matter of days before they come and get me .../ I stood in the face of damnation. Satan, spat at 'em, flat out disgraced em.' Meaning, no matter who you are, say what you feel. Be who you supposed to be. If you gonna be the resistance, then be that resistance. Do what you have to do. Don't be scared to die, is basically it in other words. And if you are scared to die, here's a great example to go to: people like Farrakhan, people like Jim Brown, so many people, Muhammad Ali ... Ice Cube, yo! Crazy sh--." ...
You know Albert Daniels as Brooklyn from the 2006 coming-of-age flick, "ATL." But in reality, Al Be Back (his hip-hop moniker) is from the Bronx, New York, and spent his early years as an aspiring MC under the wing of BX icon, Big Pun.
"Pun was my family," Back told us. Pun hooked him up with Chris Robinson, a video director who made his directorial debut with "ATL."Back is making his own movies now, on wax. He's shopping a deal, but already has co-signs from heavyweights such as Kanye West and KRS-One. The Blastmaster and MC Lyte appear on Back's song "16, 17, 18." Al Be's new single, "Love You More" (shout out to Tina Marie on the sample), debuted recently on New York radio station Hot 97 and last week, we have a little somethin'-somethin' for you. Take a look at the homie's new video, "Come On." You tell us if you think he's nice.
For other artists featured in Mixtape Monday, check out Mixtape Mondays Headlines.