The fellas know we’re repping for them, and the ladies love us like a Tory Burch sample sale — Mixtape Daily is still here, still strong. Today is bugged out, because the focus is on a few people who aren’t exactly synonymous with the mixtape game. First, R. Kelly’s been adding his legendary vocal ability to unofficial remixes of records such as Drake’s “Best I Ever Had” and Jeremih’s “Birthday Sex.” Well, he has a whole tape of those kinds of records and some original joints as well.
Then, the homie JD obviously has been putting out his own mixtapes for years, but he’s coming at a new angle this time. Jermaine Dupri wrangled his guys Tyrone Davis (JD’s personal assistant), Usher, Johnta Austin, Bryan-Michael Cox, Nelly and Trey Songz to comprise a clique of distinguished gentlemen called Ocean’s 7. Besides letting Bow Wow officially join the crew if he adheres to the crew’s dress code of suits and such, JD has grand schemes to make the project a whole movement, with a film and official album.
We can’t be mad at that. You can catch JD’s exploits at his new Web site Global14.com, and as always, keep checking for us at MTVNews.com Monday through Friday and our brand-new URL: Mixtape.MTV.com.
Don’t Sleep: Necessary Notables
Mixtape: The Demo Tape
Headliner: R. Kelly
Co-Starring: DJ Drama and DJ Skee
Key Cameos: “Super Man High” (featuring OJ Da Juiceman), “Playaz in Da Club” (featuring Plies)
Essential Info: R. Kelly has pretty much been on the low since his troubles with the law ended last year. That 12 Play: Fourth Quarter album that was slated for the end of 2008 never surfaced, and besides showing up at the Velvet Room with Jazze Pha and DJ Infamous a few months ago, we haven’t really heard a peep from the Pied Piper.
Well, we hear Kells is almost done with the new album but decided not to just jump out there with a single and video. He wanted to reintroduce himself with his first-ever mixtape.
“He’s never done a mixtape before, and it’s like his demo for the new album,” DJ Skee said of The Demo Tape. “He’s coming back with a new generation of the music business, a new generation of music. All these kids coming up are up on other stuff. He wanted to come back out and get everyone familiar on who he is.”
“I wanted to do something different,” Kelly said. “I wanted to get closer to the streets. It’s the first time an R&B artist has done a mixtape on this level. It’s a way to start over and give my fans something new and fresh again. I think it’s great for music!”
Kelly teamed up with Skee and DJ Drama and made the mixtape by exchanging e-mails. Kelly would make the music in Chicago and send it out to the two DJs; Skee and Dram would then add their touches.
“He was originally gonna call it The Remix Killa,” Skee said. “He has a lot of what he calls his ‘remix killa sh–.’ That’s kinda his mantra. But we have some original records on there — some stuff that’s not gonna be on his album and some stuff that’s he had in the vault. It’s a combination of a little bit of both.
“He remixed Dream’s sh–,” Skee said. ” ‘Superman High’ with OJ Da Juiceman. He remixed ‘Every Girl’ by Lil Wayne and Young Money. The Keri Hilson ‘Turning Me On.’ He’s got some sh–. It’s Kells. He’s got this one with Akon on there, a couple of original ones. There’s a record called ‘Club to the Bedroom’ that leaked, so we got the mastered, real version on there. Then just a couple of other Kells R&B ballads on there.”
R. Kelly told us late Monday that his album doesn’t have a title, and, as of now, he’s not naming it. He’s letting the fans call it whatever they want. Come back to MTVNews.com this week for more from the Pied Piper.
Mixtape: 3009 Sh–
Headliners: Ocean’s 7
Key Collaborations: The whole damn mixtape — they’re a supergroup
Essential Info: They’re inspired by the Rat Pack, but Ocean’s 7 are more like a wolf pack with savoir-faire. When JD says his crew is in the house, expect a bunch of them (if not all) to be present.
“It’s hard to be all together,” Dupri told us while in Las Vegas, splitting time between partying and working on albums for Usher and Nelly. “But it’s mentally made in the same fashion of the Rat Pack. The Rat Pack used to do little shows out here, and if Dean Martin was performing, they would say [on the billboards] in parentheses ‘Maybe Sammy Davis Jr.’ or ‘Maybe Frank Sinatra.’ Dean Martin would have a show at the Sands, and they knew if Sammy Davis or Frank Sinatra was in town, they were definitely getting onstage. That’s the same mentality we have with this.
“You don’t never know who you gonna get,” he added. “When we say Ocean’s 7, you know you gonna at least get four of us. But you don’t know what other members you gonna catch.”
If case you didn’t read that snazzy intro at the beginning of this piece, the group is comprised of Dupri, his personal assistant Tyrone Davis, Nelly, So So Def artist and writer extraordinaire Johnta Austin, another writer and producer extraordinaire Bryan-Michael Cox, Nelly and Trey Songz. Austin is executive-producing Trey’s new album, and JD produced a few tracks for the project.
“I tell a story at the beginning of the mixtape of how the whole thing happened,” JD said. “We was in Vegas working, and it was a thought process. Usher was like, ‘Let’s go out and eat and be around Vegas and let Vegas know we here.’ For the longest time, I been hearing Vegas was dying to have new energy. They try to bring younger people to Vegas, so it don’t have that stigma of that old sh– they used to have. We did all new material, we started form scratch and made brand-new records. With the mixtape, I sampled music from ‘Ocean’s Eleven.’ All the music is sampled from there, with the exception of the ‘Ain’t I’ freestyle and the remix of the Jay-Z song [‘Heart of the City’]. That was the mentality to really play up on it and make sure we give the city a soundtrack again, but in a younger format. They needed that breath of fresh air, and we trying to be that voice for them. Plus, we love being out here.”
So how did Dupri pull it off when we’ve waited for years for other supergroup projects that never seem to happen? “You gotta be focused, and you gotta have somebody like myself that has a CEO mentality over being an artist,” he said.
You can cop the Ocean’s mixtape for free at JD’s new site, Global14.com.
“That’s not what’s going on right now,” Jermaine said about opting to give the tape away instead of selling it. “As a person that tries to stay in the forefront of what’s going on and where we headed in the music and everything … you can sell if you want to, and you fall victim to this low-sales [wave] that’s going on. Not to say that we wouldn’t sell a lot of records, but nobody’s selling a lot of records. Eminem sold 500,000 less than he’s ever sold first week.”
Trust, one of the industry’s all-time hustling greats is thinking about a way to make money out of all this and entertain at the same time. “We’re talking about shooting a movie, and the soundtrack to the first movie would be the Ocean’s 7 album.”
There’s also talk about a Vegas show and/or a tour with all the parties involved. We’ll have much more on JD’s new movement this week on MTVNews.com.
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For other artists featured in Mixtape Daily, check out Mixtape Daily Headlines.