Artist: Juelz Santana
Mixtape: Juelz Santana Presents Skull Gang Takeover: The New Movement to Move Wit
411: There's never been so much commotion over somebody not getting robbed. Last week, rumors that Juelz Santana had been relieved of his jewels on a London mini-tour surfaced online. Santana promptly posted a 14-minute video blog, demonstrating that all his diamonds were right where they belonged — in his possession. Can we get to the music now?
His album doesn't drop until next year, but Santana is releasing two mixtapes in the interim (that's just for starters). One is going to introduce his new crew; the other will focus mostly on him.
"It's gonna be strategically put together," he said of the solo joint, The Regan Era. "You gonna hear the difference, but [there are] similarities to what I've always been doing. Just as much as I always change with the time, I never lose what I've had. Never lose what I built or who I am. You gonna get what you need at this time: a better, greater Juelz Santana. I know people been waiting, so I apologize to all my fans and all the DJs. Say no more: It's on.
Enter the Skull Gang.
"A couple of the artists been with me since day one," Santana noted, running down the roster. "Shout-out to my man Unkasa. He's just talented all around the board. My man Rabbi, he's from Richmond, VA. I knew him for years since I was in the [street] game doing all the wrong things. My man Deniro, my man Toad. My Man John Depp, he's from Queens. We on 'em. You see what I got right now. My man Heavy Metal from the Bronx. It's not just a confined movement. It's not a Harlem thing. I represent Harlem to the fullest. Unkasa is from Harlem. Then, like I said, I got it spread out.
"I already got the momentum of just being me," he continued about the start of his new movement (he's still a good-standing member of the Diplomats). "They know what I'm capable of. I give it up. Just beware, man."
Santana's third album, Born to Lose, Built to Win (The Rise of the Skull Gang), is slated for 2009.
Joints To Check For
» "What U Reppin!!" "It brands the name. It brands the movement," Santana said. "We did a joint over the Wayne and T-Pain ['Got Money'] joint. It feels like our song. It's one of the joints we did a video for. John Depp is doing the hook. I got my homegirl Star on there — the first lady of Skull Gang.
» "Relax." "The Skull Gang mixtape is based on classic music," Santana detailed. "That's what we try to make now, and that's what we touched on when we tried to pick beats. We ran across the Tribe Called Quest joint ['Electric Relaxation'] and just tore it down. We got at the ladies. I'm a ladies' man, so I did my thing. It added another vibe to the mixtape."
» "Take Over Music Business." "We did this one joint over the Busta beat," Santana said. "It was the 'Throw the water on them' ['Don't Touch Me'] beat, but we took the old chorus. The 'Here we go, yo/ Here we go, yo!' [from Tribe's] 'The Scenario.' We did Skull Gang taking over your radio. Pretty much, we just spazzed out on there, displaying lyrical talent. That beat was crazy, wild. It had that old feeling. The whole basis of that Skull Gang mixtape was bringing back that sound that wasn't around. Captivating elements of stuff that was old. It was a new-school beat that gave it that old-school feeling."
Don't Sleep: Other Notable Selections This Week
» DJ Hevehitta and DJ Unexpected - Blue Magic
» DJ Ghost, DJ Decko and G-Unit - Modern Day Marvels
» DJ Scope - Street Certified 32.5
» DJ Whiteowl and Jadakiss - The Kiss of Death
» Greg Street and Rosco - Check Dig the Mixtape
'Hood's Heavy Rotation: Bubbling Below The Radar
» Jonathan Davis and Slipknot - "Got Money" (Skee Mix)
» O'Neal McKnight - "Time Don't Pass Me By"
» Jadakiss (featuring Jay-Z) - "Who Runs This"
» Kanye West - "Love Lockdown"
» Lil' Kim - "Shook Hands"
» Ludacris (featuring Floyd Mayweather) - "Undisputed"
» Nelly (featuring Gucci Mane and R. Kelly) - "U Can Get It"
Firestarter: Street Science
This fall, when the kids are going back to their various institutions of learning, showing a flair for style isn't just about their outfits. The swagger is seeping all the way down to their supplies. Trapper Keepers? Peace out. The Street Science wants in as the new supplier for young lads and ladies with urban and retro inspired notebooks, folders and other items to use in the classroom. Look for the lines Beat Street, Droppin Jewels, the Blue Print, and Camo. Five percent of the profits go back into inner-city public schools. Industry key players — including producer/rapper Swizz Beatz, record-spinner DJ Enuff and newcomers Kidz in the Hall — are also working in conjunction with the foundation, appearing in a series of public-service announcements called "Life's Real, Get Smart," promoting the importance of staying in school.
The Streets Is Talking: News & Notes From The Underground
Kanye West, hold your head. Don't let 'em drive you crazy, homie. Kanye said it himself: Young Jeezy probably should have been on "Swagger Like Us (S.L.U.)" with Jay-Z, Lil Wayne, T.I. and, of course 'Ye himself. It looks like the Snowman will officially be getting his shot soon: There are talks of him jumping on the remix.
"I think I'm gonna do that," Young said last week. "I hollered at Tip about it at the VMAs. I said, 'Let me get that instrumental.' Make sure y'all listen to my verse real carefully."
Jeezy's The Recession debuted at #1 on the Billboard albums chart, and the Snowman said he's stumped as to what to put out next. Some are calling for "My President," others are yelling for "Who Dat." Young said when he goes to the club, the picture doesn't get any clearer — DJs are playing all or most of the album.
"Man, I was in the club the other night, and I went to the DJ booth to check out the DJ," Jeezy said last week. "Nobody was there. He had left the booth and just put in my album and pressed play. He was just letting the CD rock."
One joint that stays in constant rotation up here in the secret location of Mixtape Monday headquarters is the Don Cannon-produced "Circulate."
"I was in New York when Don sent me that sample," Jeezy recalled. "He sent me the sample. I just wanted to kind of go to that '70s feel of clubbin', but you still got the pain and passion in the music. If you listen to the whole album, it's like a 'we shall overcome' type of album. Like we really got to stick together on this one and get through it. That's what the whole recession is about. 'The dollar circulate' is in the back of my mind. We all know it's messed up, but when it starts back circulating, I'm thinking about what I can get. I'm thinking, 'When it gets back right, I'mma do this, I'mma do that.' " ...
Fall Out Boy got thrown out of the 'hood during the video for "This Ain't a Scene, It's an Arms Race," but Patrick Stump, Pete Wentz and the rest of the gang are slowly coming back. They hooked up with New England's musical head-thumper Clinton Sparks for their very first mixtape.
"The name of the mixtape is Welcome to the New Administration," Wentz said, with Stump sandwiched in between him and Sparks in an L.A. studio. " ... "We watched how people said, 'You shouldn't do mixtapes, and you shouldn't be oversaturated in your music, showing people stuff before it comes out.' Then you see Lil Wayne bust that notion completely out the window. So we were big fans of Clinton, big fans of the Kanye mixtape, and wanted to work together. He and Travis [McCoy] from Gym Class [Heroes] knew each other, and that's how we kinda got together. I let him get familiar.
"We've had this idea for a while since we got into mixtapes," he added. "No one ever understood what we meant: 'So it's gonna be a compilation?' "
"I thought it was awesome," Sparks said. "You wouldn't expect Fall Out Boy to do a mixtape. So when they sent a bunch of music from them and Panic [at the Disco] and the Academy Is ... . I had one night to put it together — thanks, guys. I thought, 'How am I gonna do this in the traditional way I would put together a mixtape?' I literally sat down with some hot tea for six hours and thought, 'How am I gonna make this cool?' I called Ludacris, who got involved with the mixtape as well. He did the intro and set it off. He's a fan as well. Fifteen minutes later, he sent over an intro."
"That's probably the biggest part of the mixtape," laughed Stump, who said he's bought mixtapes exclusively for the past year. "That's my favorite part. It was crazy trying to put together a mixtape while you were trying to put together an album."
New Administration has mostly unreleased material from FOB and their friends, such as Gym Class Heroes and Cobra Starship. They even perform a play on Katy Perry's biggest hit called "I Kissed a Boy."
"Everybody was waiting for the song to happen, and it did," Pete said. "Gabe [Saporta] told me it was based on a true story. I don't really know, but if you listen to the lyrics, it's really gnarly. Clinton wasn't sure about putting it on the mixtape."
"It's brutally hilarious," Patrick chimed in.
Stump is also partial to a record they jacked from Gym Class Heroes. "There's a song on the upcoming Gym Class Heroes album called 'Catch Me If You Can," the singer/producer said. "I loved the hook. It evolved. Pete had some lyrics that fit with it. We have two versions of it. It's basically a Fall Out Boy remix of an upcoming Gym Class Heroes song."
"It's a 'premix,' " Pete added. "It came out before the real song came out." ...
He feels big right now — not in weight, but in status. Lil Wayne is still the goliath of the mixtape game, but he hasn't actually released an official street CD since he dropped the two-disc classic The Drought in 2007. Earlier in the year, an upset Wayne made some disparaging comments about the mixtape circuit that infuriated some DJs, but Wayne clarified himself, saying he was only singling out a few people who he claimed violated him and leaked his records. Obviously, the DJs are still on Weezy's side: They're playing records from Tha Carter III like their lives depended on it.
Well, Wayne's mixtape hiatus is over, he told us personally during the VMAs.
"Tha Carter IV is nice," he said about his next in-store LP, "but you need to be looking for Dedication 3. Me and DJ Drama are going back at it. Gangsta Grillz. I'm showcasing my whole clique — the Young Money family. And three months after that, I got 30 more [songs], and we're gonna give them away for free — as I always do — on my Web site."
"Ladies and gentlemen, we're sorry to have kept you so hungry, but sometimes it's better that way," Drama wrote via e-mail, trumpeting the project in grand fashion. "This is not a mixtape, this is an event. Four brands promise to go down in history and combine again: Wayne, Drama, Gangsta Grillz, Dedication 3. Nuff said."
Wayne's comeback to the circuit was fueled by the new talent he has under his wing.
"My artists," he explained. "They need to be heard in a proper way. They all could have put out mixtapes, which they all have, but I know what it means when Wayne says, 'I'm gonna put out a mixtape.' I know how people perceive it and how people go for it. That's what it's for." ...
For the next seven days, it's ATL Week on MTV Jams. Big ups to all the homies down bottom. We can't wait to get back and head right to Gladys Knight's restaurant! In any event, we're going to give you a sneak peek of our next segment with Gucci Mane and DJ "Dram Cruise" Drama! You'll get it full blast next week. It might be the last you see of Gucci for a while. Last week, he was ordered to start serving a year in prison for a probation violation. Peace.
For other artists featured in Mixtape Monday, check out Mixtape Mondays Headlines.