It's official, people. Mixtape Daily is here. That's right, daily. Mixtape Monday had a phenomenal run. For over six years, the weekly segment became an institution. Every week, it was your one-stop shop for everything related to the streets. But we promised you bigger and better things in 2009, and we're men of our word. We're going to keep bringing you all the exclusives and insight you've come to expect. We're just expanding and refocusing.
Enough with the talk, here is this week's main pick, the new hip-hop bad chick.
This Week's Main Pick
Street Queen: Nicki Minaj
Holding It Down For: Jamaica, Queens, and Young Money
Mixtape: Beam Me Up Scotty
Real Spit: Yeah, you are going to hear a bunch of more-than-just-friendly shout-outs to the ladies — Nicki says she loves the girls and has no problem surrounding herself with "bad bitches."
"A bad bitch is an exclusive, smart girlie-girl who holds her own," she explained. Minaj is from the same Southside Queens neighborhood as Mixtape Daily co-founder and host Shaheem Reid.
"Seeing a lot of crackheads — a lot of drug dealers," she said, describing the neighborhood when she was growing up. "I was on crack. I went to rehab. ... No, I spit that crack. That's what I meant."
Minaj attended LaGuardia High School -- the performing arts school on which the movie "Fame" was based — where she studied not music, but acting. She got into rapping after hanging around all her dudes who rhymed.
"I used to make stuff up and spit it and eventually just started getting dope — I think people just started taking me serious," she said. Nicki was discovered by [artist id="510062"]Lil Wayne[/artist] a couple of years after the New Orleans MC saw her on the street DVD "On the Come Up." "I was OK, but I wasn't focusing on the music. I was doing pictures and stuff like that, so people knew me more for pictures than my music," she continued. "But with the Beam Me Up Scotty mixtape, they have to take me seriously as an artist. So, I would say maybe a year ago, I started sharpening my skills. Recently, I've been singing more. Now it's official — it's going down like 'Town Julie Brown."
Nicki — or "Lewinsky," as she calls herself — says that touring with Weezy, Drake and the rest of the "Young Moolah" crew had a serious impact on her and the mixtape.
"It made me hungry. That's what inspired me and the music for the Beam Me Up Scotty tape — the 'I Am Music' tour."
"It's a good opportunity to always find that new chick in the game," Atlanta's DJ Holiday said. "She's gonna have a good, successful career. It's hard to find that somebody who has that niche, that star power. She can rap, she can sing. She connected with everybody in the streets."
Nick is also down with the same management team behind [artist id="1938028"]Gucci Mane[/artist] and [artist id="3067178"]OJ Da Juiceman[/artist], thus all the collaborations with that crew.
"Gucci is real fast," she said of the difference between him and Wayne. "He'll force me, like, 'No, no, no. You're taking too long.' Wayne, we'll have more of a laid-back situation. He'll give me time to tweak a little more. But they both teach me a lot — they both a have a crazy work ethic. Wayne is my sensei. That's what I call him. He calls me his ninja. 'Ninja Nicki.' "
Joints To Check For:
» "I Get Crazy" (featuring Lil Wayne). "A real dope record," she said. "I did it and I let Wayne hear it. He played his guitar on it and put his whole rock sound on it. I switched up my verses after he did that, I have to admit. That's kinda taboo in hip-hop to switch up your verses after [they are laid down], but he kinda bodied me and he stepped the energy up on it — so I stepped my energy up on it. The new version of 'I Get Crazy' is like a rock feel, 'cause we're just all rocked out. Being a lunatic and not caring."
» "Kill the DJ." "A dope, fun record that all my girls like," Nicki said. "It's saying that if the DJ doesn't spin my record again, I'm gonna kill him. But DJs like being killed by me — they like being straddled and choked, you know."
» "Envy." " 'Envy' is a song that I wrote, like, a year ago. Being a female and trying to get into hip-hop, you're damned if you do/ [damned] if you don't type of thing. Other girls don't wanna see you shine. I said on the record, 'Still I rise.' These girls are like crabs in a bucket — I feel if you allow one girl to get in the door, she's gonna hold the door open so everybody else can come in. I look at it like it's about us. Female rappers are dead. Where are we? 'Envy' is a very personal record for me because it's real."
The Streets Is Talking: News & Notes From The Underground
Happy birthday to [artist id="1245018"]Lloyd Banks[/artist]! The onetime "Boy Wonder" just hit 27 on April 30 and celebrated by giving a double CD to the streets — his fourth since September.
"I'm still younger than the average rapper," he laughed when called on his actual birthday.
As young as Banks is, he's still a vet. For the mixtape, he spread it out some and reached people from New York and beyond.
"I got a track called 'My Way or Nothing' with Uncle Murda," Banks explained. "You know what it is? I'm a fan of a lot of these MCs. A lot of people got egos. I've been doing this for seven years now. I feel like a veteran. It gets to a point where, c'mon now, we gotta stop all this. If you like somebody's record, you won't say it because of your ego? I appreciate what Uncle Murda brings to the table.
"Uncle Murda did what I expected him to do and more," he added. "I reached out to Nipsey Hussle too. I appreciated what he brought to the game. It just feels like something new. He's from the West Coast, he brings the whole culture back into hip-hop from his side. I respect that. I got a track called 'Real Recognize Real' with Jay Rock. It's the opening track and it's my favorite track on the album. I sent it to him and he sent it to me in a half-hour. That made me realize I gotta keep grinding, because you got artists out there like Jay Rock that's hungry. It makes me go harder. I'm just trying to spread it out."
Banks says he's going to be working with a lot of new artists as well as seasoned cats, like as Gucci Mane, Red Cafe (look for another "Hottest in the Hood" remix with Banks, [artist id="1043"]Busta [/artist] and [artist id="1237281"]Juelz[/artist]) and a few other names you know.
"I'm just trying to get in there and mix magic and work with a lot of these artists I've appreciated over the years. I got a record in the works now with me, Juelz, [artist id="1164800"]Fabolous[/artist] and [artist id="1225081"]Jadakiss[/artist] called 'Welcome to New York.' I'm waiting to get the final touches on that. I'm a grown man now. Everybody gotta get their grown man on and get in to the studio and make magic."
Banks also cleared up the rumor that he was dropped from Interscope Records. He hasn't been signed to the label since 2007, when he fulfilled his contractual requirements. He hasn't decided what label his next album will be on, but 50 Cent will definitely have it under his umbrella. He'll continue to drop mixtapes in the meantime — it's like practice.
"On the second CD, I got the 'Officer Down,' the Gillie Da Kid remix I put together for Get Down," he said. "There's another record on there called 'My Girl,' 'cause a lot of females are in tune with the mixtapes too. They don't all wanna hear 'shoot 'em up, bang bang.' They wanna hear records like 'Life Goes On,' where I'm speaking about personal experience. 'My Girl,' I got the Rich Girl remix on there. The second CD is more like a party CD. Whoo Kid recorded it with a live feel.
"I went back to a record called 'Money Moves the World,' " he continued. "The second CD is a mixture of new records and records that come in between the mixtapes. I would leak scattered records between mixtapes, so if you're never on the Internet, you might not have heard it. So, I wanted to grab all of those favorites and put them back on the CD — now you got a double CD. The double CD is pushing the bar now."
For other artists featured in Mixtape Monday, check out Mixtape Mondays Headlines.