Even if you were born after the turn of the millennium, you’ve probably heard the term “mixtape.” But if you weren’t around when the term originated, the name might not make a lot of sense to you. “Like, they’re not sticky. Why are they called tape?”
Sit down kids, Uncle Damon is going to take you back to a simpler time when music was played on these things called “cassette tapes.” One of the brilliant things about this early technology (ok, maybe the only brilliant thing) was that you could purchase recordable cassettes and put your own music on them. You made your own mix … on a tape. Voila! A “mixtape!”
If you were lucky enough to have a dual-cassette boombox (I’ll explain what those are another time), you could create mixtapes from the library of music you had at home. Sometimes we’d create these personalized collaborations for ourselves, but most of the time they were overtures to an unrequited love. Sigh.
I’d wager the number of hearts swayed by a good mixtape is in the single-digits. Nonetheless, there was an art to making a good arrangement. Rob Gordon (John Cusack) in the film High Fidelity said it best,
“The making of a great compilation tape, like breaking up, is hard to do and takes ages longer than it might seem. You gotta kick off with a killer, to grab attention. Then you got to take it up a notch, but you don’t wanna blow your wad, so then you got to cool it off a notch.”
Of course, the world kept on turning, and cassette tapes morphed into CDs, CDs turned into MP3s, and now streaming sites like Spotify have a big market-share. The days of creative cover art and catchy mixtape titles (like “car mix;” yeah I was pretty damn creative) are ebbing in most genres. But in the hip-hop realm, the mixtape is still alive and well, just not in the way we remember it.
Hip-hop mixtapes are releases that don’t go through the standard record label vetting and distribution process. Also called “street albums,” they can be full of experimental tracks, familiar beats, and intriguing collaborations.
Often, a rapper will release a mixtape for free online. Why? Because it’s cheap, easy, and can lead to massive exposure.
While mixtapes can produce popular singles and even at times sell some copies, they are essentially used to attract new fans, create social media buzz, spawn a tour, and show off collaborations with bigger artists.
Although you see a lot of underground artists releasing mixtapes, bigger names are also getting in on the act of giving away music to their fans. Just recently, Drake announced a new mixtape called “More Life” that is set to drop anytime now. As we close out the year and look to 2017, here’s my list of the most anticipated hip-hop mixtapes – both underground and mainstream – to look forward to.
Outside of Drake, there are a few other mixtapes to look forward to in the coming months. Some would say that anything new from Boogie is a blessing. He has been teasing us with two new tracks from his forthcoming mixtape, Thirst 48 Part II, a follow-up to his highly regarded debut mixtape, Thirst 48 that was responsible for launching his career. Like other artists in the game, Boogie’s story is inspirational and a testament to hard work.
Below is a list of some of the mixtapes we know are coming out in the coming weeks that you can throw into your ears.
Damon’s Most Anticipated
It’s hard to stamp a release date on mixtapes. Artists will announce they are working on something only to never release it. We get it. Life happens. Others will release a mixtape every few weeks like Curren$y. If you haven’t heard Curren$y’s Weed and Instrumentals mixtapes, do yourself a service and listen to some of his flow because he’s dropped 10 mixtapes already this year!
Below are a few mixes that are on their way, when? who knows but keep tabs online. They are coming soon’ish.
Damon’s Most Anticipated
Feature photo credit: Paul Sherman [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.
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