How is mixtape formed?
September 28, 2010 6:40 AM   Subscribe

Mixtapes have been a way for rappers and producers to promote their music and have it heard for pretty much the entire history of hiphop, and they're still called mixtapes even though most have abandoned tapes for CDs and, in turn, CDs for mp3s. But there's such a glut of stuff on the market - Atlanta's Gorilla Zoe, for instance, released a mixtape a day throughout February - that it can be difficult to have a clue what's going on. One site I've found useful for just barely keeping up with things is DatPiff.

It's not perfect - navigating can be a bit of a pain, and you can only download tapes if you sign up with an account. But even if you don't want to, you can still listen to everything on there, and there's quite a lot to sift through. Here's a few that might catch your interest.

Pill - 4180 The Prescription and 4075 The Refill. Pill's probably my favourite newish rapper, used to (I think) work with Grindtime, Killer Mike's label. His biggest song is Trap Goin Ham, which did the rounds last year and appears on both of these mixtapes, but there are loads of great tracks on these two: Glass, Okay Den *, Bunkin etc.

Freddie Gibbs - midwestgangstaboxframecadillacmuzik. Comes from the rap capital of, um, Gary Indiana. Quite similar to Pill, in that both rappers are pretty much straightahead gangsta stuff, nothing fancy, just really solid rapping. They've swapped features on their tapes, and Womb 2 the Tomb from this one is pretty nifty. I'm also quite fond of Boxframe Cadillac. Gibbs also has another tape out, Miseducation of ... which I havenae heard but gather is basically more of the same.

Young Jeezy - Trap or Die. To be honest, Jeezy's a bit of an eh rapper, but he's got a pretty good ear for a beat, so there's always something to nod along to. He also can get some pretty cool guests in, like the title track of this tape which has a great verse from Bun B.

Yelawolf - Trunk Muzik. Bun's also on this one (Good to Go), which got really popular last year, but which I found you can burn out on quite quickly. It does have the only Juelz Santana verse I've ever found vaguely acceptable as well (Mixin Up the Medicine), so that's something.

Starlito - Renaissance Gangsta. Formerly known as All Star before some kind of copyright kerfuffle, Lito's got a wonderfully laid-back flow, never sounds rushed. Check out January Wrist or March 13th.

Pink Dollaz - Mixtape Vol 1.. LA's jerk style is notable for its minimal-to-the-point-of-barely-there beats, its lofi production and its young and mostly female MCs. The Dollaz are one of the most successful groups - check out Pockets Never Hungry or All the Way Turnt Up

Lil Wayne - Dedication 2. Aye, aye, aye, we've seen it all by now and he does seem to have a gone a little nuts. But if you haven't heard it, this (and tapes like it) are basically why Weezy blew up when he did. Try They Still Like Me, Cannon or Georgia Bush.

Roach Gigz - Roachy Balboa. Post hyphy, a whole bunch of new MCs have cropped up in the Bay Area. Roach is one of them! Respect It is the big single off this tape.

Killer Mike - The Killer. Killer's been going for God knows how long. His album Ghetto Extraordinary got tied up due to a conflict with his label, so he basically turned it into this mixtape. Get Em Shawty has a couple of killer (no pun) verses, although the 3-6 feature is a bit forgettable, and the beat deserves to be one of the absolute classics. I also love the little 8-bit crunches on Aye Oh, and My Chrome sounds like a shoulda-been massive hit.

Big K.R.I.T. - Krit Wuz Here. Coming out of Mississippi with a somewhat unfortunate name, Krit was a critic's favourite earlier this year. He does all his own producing, and he's got a pretty smooth sound - a bit too sanded off for my tastes sometimes, but there are some nifty tracks on this tape: See Me on Top, Something and Small As a Giant, f'rinstance.

XO - One One Ten. XO's a member of Diamond District, a fairly trad DC group, and he put out this solo tape on the first of January (1/1/10, geddit?). I found it to be quite a grower, so maybe give it a couple of chances. Here's City Shit and She Posed To (love the afrobeat groove on this one).

You've probably guessed by now that there's a street/gangsta slant to most of the stuff on DatPiff, and, well, that's pretty much true - but if that isnae what you like there's some backpackerier stuff as well, like some Atmosphere outtakes or a tape by the late Dilla's brother (I think, correct me if I'm wrong) Jay Electronica.

There's loads of stuff up there that I havenae had the chance to hear but is supposed to be pretty nifty - Freeway's (owner of the proudest neckbeard in rap) tape with Don Cannon, for example. You can keep a vague eye on what's the critical consensus on stuff worth hearing in a few places; I basically rely on Cocaine Blunts and ILX's stupid fruity crazy swag thread.

Phonology note - there's quite a cool thing in this track where you can hear the AAVE realisation of /skɹ/ where most varieties of English have /stɹ/ really clearly in the chorus: "Gotta keep your hand on your /skɹ/ap." But also, and something I didn't know before, was that this sound change also occurs in other contexts, which you can hear in the first verse when Pill realises <chitchat> as /tʃɨktʃaʔ/.
posted by Dim Siawns (11 comments total) 36 users marked this as a favorite
Jay Electronica is not Dilla's brother. You're probably thinking of Illa J.
posted by box at 6:44 AM on September 28, 2010

Also, thanks--lots to dig into here.

If sounds like something you'd enjoy, it probably is.
posted by box at 6:46 AM on September 28, 2010

hiphop single-artist "mixtapes" are a fad that I relish the demise of.
Luckily they are becoming cliche and the output of them has been sputtering over the last 3 years.
posted by Theta States at 7:39 AM on September 28, 2010

For general mixtape-ness, hiphop and otherwise, I tend to spend a lot of time on Mixcrate. Dandiggity's Ecleticuts on Blindiforthekids also usually is a fun mix of hiphop and dubstep that consistently makes my day.
posted by yeloson at 8:04 AM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

Wtf could you explain why free records from a variety of interesting artists is a bad thing? If anything I think full-albums releases are a million times less interesting than most mixtapes. Compare Mixtape About Nothing with any other Wale official release, or the aforementioned Lil Wayne's amazing body of unofficial work with his overproduced albums. Thank god for mixtapes or I would never even bother with 90% of modern rappers. As it is, I bother with many of them, just to check out what they're capable of...
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:07 AM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

The Getback have two mixtapes and 2 of Rafael Casal's albums available for free download.

Bay Area, baby.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 8:43 AM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

Never thought I'd see an FPP on DatPiff :D There are a ton of instrumental mixtapes on there too BTW. J-Armz puts in work.
posted by bayani at 1:06 PM on September 28, 2010

I like rap, but really don't like gangsta shit - I was wondering if anybody had any reccomendations along the lines of J-Live, Brother Ali etc. i.e. rappers rapping more about life, jobs, relationships, and less about popping caps, how tough they are, and how all the bitches love them?

I'm not being snarky; I genuinely want to find more rap I like!
posted by smoke at 6:00 PM on September 28, 2010

rappers rapping more about life, jobs, relationships

Little Brother (they're a group) is who you're looking for ... for starters, anyway!'s got a good sampling.
posted by bayani at 8:33 PM on September 28, 2010

Off the dome: you might be interested in what's sometimes called 'conscious,' 'backpacker' or 'indie' hip-hop (these terms are not always complimentary).

Out west, there's the Solesides/Quannum axis and the post-Good-Life one. In the middle of the country, there are the Rhymesayers folks, the Scribble-Jam-related people (lots of overlap in those two groups) and a bunch of Kanye affiliates. In the eastern part of the country, there are the Rawkus/Def Jux types, among others.

As usual with rap music, my advice is to seek out people you like, then seek out the emcees that guested on their remixes (and vice-versa), the producers who made their tracks, other people on their label, people they've toured or played shows with, etc., etc.
posted by box at 7:49 AM on September 29, 2010

Smoke: Black Milk
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:20 AM on September 29, 2010

« Older Thought Audio   |   Operation Payback is a Bitch Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments