"We been doing mix tapes since they were tapes," says Rob-1-der, half of the mix-tape-producing team StreetMonstaz. He and his partner, Soul M.U.T.T., produce a dizzying array of CD compilations and hand them out — free — by the hundreds at KC clubs and parties. The two live in KC and benefit from the central location by flying to DJ conferences all around the country, where they network with record labels and recording artists and other DJs. "We take our mix tapes on the bootleg circuit. They become in-demand because we get what's hot before it's hot," Rob-1-der explains. The R&B Ear Candy Volume 19 — Slow Motion Edition features tracks from Akon, Amerie, Ne-Yo, Keith Sweat, Keisha Cole and R. Kelly. But the underlying goal of these sets isn't to blow up already famous artists — it's for the StreetMonstaz to build a reputation as a collaboration of producers, DJs and tastemakers that will serve local Kansas City artists in the future. "We're using St. Louis as our model," Rob-1-der says. "Kids there know that they got a real shot at a record deal because artists like Nelly and Chingy came from there. They succeeded because they've got groups of DJs there that control the radio and the club DJs and have the power to break a record. That's what we hope to be doing in Kansas City."