DJ Kayslay & Greg Street / Various The Champions: The North Meets the South

As far as mix-tape maestros go, few draw like DJ Kayslay. For The Champions: The North Meets the South, the New York tastemaker drew Ghostface, Cam’ron, Raekwon, Juelz Santana, Twista, Kool G Rap, Busta Rhymes, Bun B, Lloyd Banks and Big Daddy Kane, plus some of the South’s biggest acts care of Greg Street, including Three 6 Mafia, Paul Wall, Lil Jon and Mike Jones. So, um, yeah, it’s a major-label mix-tape, but a mix-tape nonetheless and that’s a pretty solid guest list. It’s nothing new for Kayslay, who made his name airing the beefs of some of New York’s most paid on his radio show. Some of the MCs here really show up despite the low stage; Ghostface continues his recent tear with a fiery vocal on "5 Deadly Victims,” while the over-saturation here of talented Kayslay protégé Papoose, featured on five tracks, is quite welcome. Others don’t fare as well (if you’re not a fan of Dirty South mainstays Paul Wall and Mike Jones, you’re not going to be converted): Shaquille O’Neal is on four tracks and needless to say, Big Daddy Diesel is still more impressive at the free-throw stripe than on the mic. But ultimately, Champions does what a mix-tape should: it throws together some tight verses and strong tracks with some voices we haven’t heard or can’t hear enough. (Koch)