CD Release - Battery 5: Batteries not included

Five-man production unit could be the next to pop

Battery 5, a team of five songwriters/producers, wants to be the best production crew since Organized Noize and dominate the pop-music charts. But so far, they haven't been able to touch the crown.

Since the beginning of the year, the five men have worked together and separately with Missy Elliott, Rick Ross, Witchdoctor, 2007 "American Idol" runner-up Jordin Sparks, Nappy Roots and Killah Priest. None of their efforts have seen the light of day yet, but that could change as soon as next month, when Sparks' and Rick Ross' respective new albums drop.

In the meantime, Battery 5 has created a compilation, The Usual Suspects. The 17-track disc finds them producing songs by local acts such as Proton, Muffy, Scar (last heard on OutKast's "Morris Brown"), Young Trimm, Gripplyaz and Social Espionage. Its best cut, "Good Life," is a sparkling all-star track with the aforementioned acts and a peppy horn-inflected beat.

"Battery could be, like, to assault somebody, but it can also be the percussion section in an orchestra," says Skape Zilla.

The members of Battery 5 met in the fall of 2005 at the Beat Down, a monthly talent contest for producers at Apache Café. Each specializes in a different vibe: HeadROC makes eclectic hip-hop à la Native Tongues; Skape Zilla crafts heavy beats reminiscent of reggae/drum-and-bass; Looke produces a gritty, Wu-Tang-type sound; and Mellow Dope has crazy 2Pac-like anthems. "We're trying to touch every aspect of the game," says crew leader Greg Smith, who touts the crew's sonic versatility in hip-hop, R&B, pop and rock.

Less than a year after forming, Smith helped the crew land a deal with Redzone Entertainment, home to successful producers Tricky Stewart and Jazze Pha. "We had to prove ourselves and show our loyalty to the building Redzone Studios by pushing until it was our time to get some light," HeadROC says. That meant doing session work that didn't see the light of day. But all expect that to change in 2008.

"You know the cliché: One of us can hit on the door, but if five of us kick in the same door, we'll probably get in a little faster," Smith says.