One thing I really love about the world of rap/hip-hop/call it what you must is the whole concept of the mixtape. The fact that artists will release one or more precursors to any release that are pretty much full length and aside from the standard "EXCLUSIVE DJ NO MARK SHIT BABY! 106.6 SPITTIN' FIRE!" DJ tags at the beginning and end of every song, are of the usual quality or style you'd expect from said artist. I really can't imagine this happening too much in other genres of music. I suppose the odd indie rocker will give away a free EP here and there but by and large, it's a rarity. The internet, of course, has played a massive role in raising the profile of mixtapes from an underground thing where you might get hard copies in a few choice cities around where an artist is based to a global connect that fans anywhere can download in a matter of minutes.
One thing I love about 'em, in particular, is how current they always are. I've always been a sucker for popular culture references in hip-hop and mixtapes that could've been cut days before they leak online are always bang up to date. Admittedly, popular culture references usually become unpopular culture references very very quickly but by the same token, I don't think mixtapes are something you listen to for a concentrated period of time. They tide you over until the real release drops. Unless we're talking about Lil Wayne here of course. In that case all you do is listen to his mixtapes and wish he would go back to those days when he was just unstoppable.
What spurred me to publish this post, naturally, was obtaining a few mixtapes recently that I've been really digging as I go about my days affecting the world in pretty much no way at all. All links and images taken from the ever brilliant Nah Right.
1. The Game - Brake Lights
The Game (not HHH the wrestler I'd hasten to add btw nerds) is usually pretty amusing on twitter (in a #lookatmynewbentley way), however, he's just released this mixtape 'Brake Lights' and so at the moment, avoid at all costs. Rappers, you see, aren't too subtle at marketing on social networking sites. They're main approach is just to say the name of their new song/tape/album over and over again. Example tweet below. Still, get the tape. It's good. It's better than his last two albums which isn't sayin' too much. Doesn't touch 'The Documentary' of course because that was just a cold classic.
2. Wale - More About Nothing
Wale's Seinfeld based 'Mixtape About Nothing' really got me very very excited about his future. When it came out last year I genuinely thought we were witnessing something massive in the making and his ever delayed debut 'Attention Deficit' was quite possibly my most anticipated release of 2009. You've probably guessed where this is going. Yeah yeah, the album came out and it was weak as hell. He'd gone without a major label deal for a long time and it seemed that when Interscope had offered him one, well, let's just say they may have put some stipulations in the small print when it came to how that album would sound. Either way, the above is a sequel to the wonderful 'Mixtape About Nothing' and for that reason demands your attention. This boy must still have it in him somewhere.
3. Fashawn - Ode to Illmatic
This is, erm, an ode from Fashawn to 'Illmatic'. Same beats, new takes. That really does tell you all need to know doesn't it.
4. Young Jeezy - 1000 Grams Vol.1
This is hot off the stove. Leaked today. So new I haven't even listened to it yet but it's from Jeezy and it's called '1000 Grams...' and there's a load of bricks on the cover. Safe to say this isn't going to be a deviation from the normal topics. Thank God for that.
Whilst I'm here, I finally got Arcade Fire's 'The Suburbs' after play.com just completely took the piss directly from my bladder by not honouring an order I placed over two weeks ago. I cancelled that and bought it at Tesco instead. I don't know what it is about Tesco's but it sure does make everything seem a bit soulless, regardless of what you're buying. I think it's got something to do with the CDs coming in terrorist proof anti theft boxes. And the lighting is too harsh. And there was a teenage couple who looked about 14 buying a pregnancy test downstairs. I'll review it soon. One listen in and it sounds a bit murky. Win Butler's vocals seem a little buried on first impressions. Remember how upfront they were back in the day?! 'Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)' use to burst out the stereo like a runaway train made of bricks.