Get familiar with this!

As mentioned by a few of you mouth breathers in the comments of my post last week about the fake hype surrounding mixtapes, this current state of mixtape uber alles has been quite the coup for a few select individuals – namely, mixtape rappers, mixtape DJs, and the corporations that run them. But I wonder what good they’ve done, really, for the rest of us.

I don’t think the argument can be made that mixtapes have contributed anything of value to hip-hop on an aesthetic level. And note that by mixtape, I’m not referring to DJ Shadow’s Endtroducing, or anything like that. I’m talking about the bullshit with the “freestyles” and the “exclusives” and gruff voice jigs shouting over everything.

Has there been an example of a rapper that came up through the mixtape scene and put together a great album? I don’t think so, and I can’t imagine that this is a coincidence. The best rappers from the mixtapes get to put out albums on major labels, but then the term “best rapper from a mixtape” seems to me an oxymoron if there ever was one.

Mixtape rappers seem to suck almost by definition, which is ironic since major labels have come to rely on them as a pool for “talent.” Even the ones who have been able to experience a modicum of success aren’t considered on a par with the best rappers from the pre-mixtape era, and the ones who are bad are just fucking awful.

The official story, as put forth in last week’s USA Today article, is that record labels rely on the mixtape scene to determine what’s hot in the streets. Because youth culture today is determined by black kids in the ghetto, and not – this is key – by a small handful of corporations. As if major labels had no idea where to find rappers before 2002.

Even if this was really the case, I wonder if the course of hip-hop should be determined by people who buy their music from Africans on street corners. The thought alone that any old black kid in the ghetto is endowed, by nature, with some unimpeachable sense of taste always reeked to me of racism anyway.

The truth of the matter is that major labels have seized on the mixtape scene as an opportunity to spend less money developing artists. It’s becoming the equivalent of the sweatshops Major League Baseball operates in Latin American countries, except it’s not producing nearly as much talent.

  • DocZeus

    Preach! Everytime I hear about the next great mixtape rapper. It turns out to be somebody like Young Jeezy and I can’t figure out who decided in the first place that this shit was hot. Its getting to the point that I figure I can become the next hot rapper if I can saturate the market with a shitty mixtape in my basement. I can lazily rap about coke as good as any of these cats and I’ve never seen a damn pyrex before.

  • hobbs

    I got dat first.

  • hobbs

    Or not.

  • http://myspace.com/cirespot Yung “Cee-Eye” So Fly

    Yea bol this you’re pretty on point today. It seems at times that the mixtape game is responsible for a lot of the Ronald Mcdonald niggies all over the seen nowadays. There is very little quality, but a large quantity of crap.

    Joe Budden, Mood Muzik vol. 2
    Clipse, We Got it For Cheap Vol. 2

    These are 2 out of 800 mixtapes released last year that were actually good.

  • Danja29

    Seriously, mixtapes have become the equivalent of pizza- they’re reasonably priced, disposable, and forgotten about after a day or two.

    Most mixtape rappers are random. There are a handful who have managed to be worth listenin’ to, and that was only because their careers included but weren’t limited to mixtapes.

    Even people like B.I.G. and Jay were once only known to the mixtape-coppers, so I can’t say NOBODY that does mixtapes will ever be worth listenin’ to. But that was also a far different time. If the mixtape culture was the way it is now, there probably STILL woulda been many more from the circuit that were to never be heard from anywhere else. The Jae Hoods and Jae Millz’s of the world are stuck droppin’ ‘freestyles’ for a reason, and it’s been shown why everytime they’ve made actual songs.

  • http://www.crooked-soul.com Zilla

    I think this is an interesting look at the mixtape scene. I liken mixtape rappers to battle rappers–they have a limited platform where people only check in to hear 1 thing from them. Mixtapes and battles are instant gratification–no concepts, themes, emotions, coherent message, etc. just empty threats and punchlines over a beat everyone knows.
    Some rappers, like Nas, don’t put out 17 mixtapes a year because they enjoy being holed up in the studio making an album with thought behind it. Some rappers, like Dipset, require you to turn your brain off to enjoy them, hence the mixtape is their ideal platform. It shouldn’t be the main barometer of who gets signed to a major. But the majority of major label releases are simply instant gratification rappers–hello Yin Yang Twins. So the mixtape makes sense for this era but it doesn’t make it appropriate.

  • bxconnect

    “I wonder if the course of hip-hop should be determined by people who buy their music from Africans on street corners.”
    bol are you a white boy?seriosly.is this xxlmag.com. dissing mixtapes.hey bol i didnt know you can buy mixtapes in stl.isnt that were your from?they have “africans”selling mix tapes on the corner in stl.word.wow i didnt know that.yeah bol you really out of touch with the culture.the love of hearing a hungry mc just get on the mic and do him.your more relaxed with your greatful dead pearl jam and better then ezra burnt cds.cant forget the dave matthews band.yeah i can tell your a fan.
    peace to ransom,have you heard of him bol?yeah anyway.

  • iw11

    myspace.com/idubya11

  • http://xxlmag.com Bol

    >hey bol i didnt know you can buy mixtapes in stl.isnt that were your from?they have “africans”selling mix tapes on the corner in stl.

    I’m assuming this is a question, and the answer would be no.

    And for what it’s worth, Dave Matthews Band is a black group, which happens to suck balls.

  • ronburgandy

    its plain and simple as to why “mixtape stars” dont translate well in sales.
    white kids dont know about mixtapes.
    walk into any suburban high school and say “papoose” and “lean with it, rock with it” and you’ll realize why mixtapes dont matter.

  • http://www.myspace.com/writeonpointmagazine janice

    Grafh is considered a “mixtape great”, but will his long awaited album be any good? Will anyone go out and purchase it?

  • http://xxlmag.com Bol

    >its plain and simple as to why “mixtape stars” dont translate well in sales.
    white kids dont know about mixtapes.

    A suggestion:

    Could this be a confusion of correlation and causation?

    Just saying…

  • Dee

    Mixtapes are not just ruined by the big 4 music companies. A lot of rappers that have mixtapes make their tapes with an independent distribitor.

    that means they make lots of $$$ off each tape sold.
    So its good for the artists.
    Also, rappers like Jae Millz, J-hood, Papoose, and Saigon have been able to make a good amount of doe by selling their mixtapes and doing shows, thats their whole income
    and while it may not be close to an artists like 50cent, Shady, Nelly, or T.I. its still a significant amount, its a good livin.
    Furthermore, most the rappers listed above will not go platinum even if they get a majot label deal b/c freestyle rap and punchline rap isn’t able to sell millions (usually), so if your J-hood why not put out 5,000-10,000 mixtapes and make some $$ and if you like that artist why not buy it?

  • Dee

    & anyone with a damn computer with internet knows about mixtapes. Just go to any of the many CD online stores and the tapes are there! Amazing. U dont have to be on the streets of Brooklyn ot Atlanta to get a mixtape, and BOL everyone that like hiphop music knows that.

  • http://xxlmag.com Bol

    >that means they make lots of $$$ off each tape sold.
    So its good for the artists.

    Feel free to actually read the first paragraph of the post.

    You don’t even have to read the whole thing. Just the first paragraph.

  • http://www.myspace.com/therapistmusic Therapist

    mixtapes are what destroyed NY hip hop

  • http://www.myspace.com/therapistmusic Therapist

    correction, mixtape rappers

  • ROX ONE

    “white kids dont know about mixtapes.”

    mixwhat?? you mean like “Now Thats What I Call Music 12″?? Those are hot.

    maybe you can blame whoever decided that bootleg DVD’s had a higher profit margin or the oversaturation of the mixtape market on why mixtapes aren’t really a good indicator of future success….

    “Could this be a confusion of correlation and causation?”

    lol.. more like a confusion of ignorance and intelligence..

  • ROX ONE

    ^^ success defined as making listenable music..

  • Belize

    BOL IS LAME AND STUPID—-
    —– QUOTE: “Has there been an example of a rapper that came up through the mixtape scene and put together a great album?”……fukin idiot, u asked 4 sum here u go:
    1. 50-great mixtapes, classic debut (i think evryone knows many men..)
    2. Joe Budden-mixtape champ of the year, classic debut, (10minutes anuybody????)))
    3. Lloyd Banks-same (till the end!)
    4. Young Jeezy-same (tear dat pussy up! and soul survior)
    5. Dipset-garner buzz before all album (AYE!)

    plus many more, u are stupid and retarded, BUT, ill let it slid because we all know u are LAMEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!haaaaaa

    p.s. and i was just about to agree with ur shit for the first time, guess not LAMO..haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

  • http://www.honorablemedia.com/blog Honorable

    MORE EXAMPLES:
    6. The Clipse – We Got It For Cheap (Increased the Stock of the Clipse)

    7. Lupe Fiasco (If it were not for 15 Conflict Diamonds, woulda Lupe have been on Late Registration?)

    8. Keysheia Cole (Her mixtape/album sampler generated buzz)

    9. Kanye (Used Academic’s Jeanius Level Mixtape and I’m Good to help maintain his buzz before College Dropout)

    10. TI – (Da Streetz Series Generated the Buzz b4 Trap Musik, increased his stock for Trap Musik – which had 4 videos before it went platinum)

  • rellmo84

    I feel you cuzo,i think mixtapes were good at one point cuz it was just a nigga sayin what he wanted for fun.But once corporate america found out about the just raped and used it for cheap marketing.Damn cuz when u sayin some dumb azz shit u can make some good blogs B E Z

  • daesonesb

    ys’ll need to get lives….

    Put on some three hundred SPF sunscreen and go out into the light. You owe your paper white skin a favor.

    How can you put multitudes of negative comments on every post this guy makes. You must have spent about 1/24th of the last two months doing that. That is 60 muther fucking hours for any of you morons that can do some quick shorthand math.

    You have just ethered 60 hours of your life down the toilet.

  • 50 Cent

    Wow, Bol. I respect your opinion now.

  • http://33jones.com jones

    “Has there been an example of a rapper that came up through the mixtape scene and put together a great album?”

    You have to go back about 10 years, but (Madd) Skillz got a deal directly because of the work he did on the mixtape scene, and his first album “From Where?” was pretty close to being a great album. He fell off pretty hard after that album, though.

  • Mikey Ess AKA SukedowN

    >”It’s becoming the equivalent of the sweatshops Major League Baseball operates in Latin American countries, except it’s not producing nearly as much talent.”

    Nice comparison.

    Good job clarifying your mixtape stance.

    Are you going to continue batting .250 though?

  • Ru

    “dj shadow”?????

    u r so white…its not funny anymore.

  • Bol

    This just in….im gay

  • yoyoyo

    For the record Kanye West is not a mixtape rapper. He was signed to Rocafella and had already produced half of Jay-Z’s Blueprint before dropping a mixtape.

    mixtapes didn’t put 50 Cent on the map. JMJ and How to Rob off of the Madd Rapper album did.

    And don’t pretend like you would even know who Lloyd Bank is if it wasn’t for 50 Cent.

    Joe Buddens? Yall are talking about a mixtape he dropped after his first album?

    The Clipse have put out 2 mixtapes but they aren’t in the same category as Jae Millz or some shit. They actually put an album out first and it was rather successful.

    Bottom line is DJ Clue and Kayslay don’t put tracks on mixtapes because they have an ear for talent, they are charging these unknown, no talent dudes. Clue, Kayslay and the rest of them are getting paid before the mixtapes even come out.

    Stay in school kids.

  • http://www.soundclick.com/dacollective Vindi

    The mixtape scene has its plus and minuses i’d say a good point is how many are actually good, Papoose consistently drops good material I liked Joe Budden’s Mood Muzik 2 mixtape, and we all know The Champ Is Here mixtape by Jada was betta than the album, however a few artists are over rated on the scene example I give don’t care who i offend but Stack Bundles

  • king fuck still says fuck xxl

    fuck bol, and his ignorant rants. bitch is an attention whore, and all you groupies are nothing but internet geeks. get outside, go for jog, do something you beezies.

  • king fuck still says fuck xxl

    and @ ess, bol aint batting 250, he’d stay in the majors if that was the case, bitch is batting below 200, striking out more than mark belhorn.

  • http://rockthedub.blogspot.com khal

    YOUR LAST PARAGRAPH IS THE TRUEST. I think it’s less about who is talented than about who is marketable, who has a ready made audience, and who, ultimately, can sell the most units for the major.

    Now, I don’t get your “Endtroducing…” comment. That was an album, not a mixtape or anything of the sort. What were you trying to say?

  • http://rockthedub.blogspot.com khal

    @ Belize — your top 10 is kind of weak. I mean, Kanye’s strength was NOT the mixtapes he put out… he had a buzz off of Izzo and his many productions. I don’t know anyone who bought his album saying “wow, I heard his mixtape, he’s the truth!”…

    Dipset? GREAT ALBUM!?!? I think you missed the boat on that one.

    Having a mixtape out and then putting out a SUCCESSFUL album is much different than what Bol was saying. He was trying to get across that “great mixtape album” does not mean “great studio album”, which many of the people you’ve mentioned don’t have. They have good albums, I kid you not, but great? Classic? Come on, Lloyd Banks dog?!?!

  • Belize

    Khal, evr’y body who like mixtapes, start liking Kanye through his mixtapes, do u not remember “through the wire” that song was on video for almost half a year before it really got spins. why? because he kept puting that shit on mixtapes all with his fresstyles (anybody remember when he killed most of Jay-Z songs-even the ones he produced)plus nobody knew if he could spit, he was either gonna be the next coming of RZA or the next coming of Puff.
    Dipset-yah ill admit that most of thier cd’s are not classics(well…jelz, cam’s and the first dip cd are)—, but(!) thats how they eat, there mixtapes sell more than major artist think about that cuzzo..
    And banks shit was str8, but never mind ur probably thought “laffy taffy” was hot.

  • http://djxplcit.blogspot.com http://djxplcit.blogspot.com

    i like how everyone arguing in favor of mixtapes completely misses the point and talks about rather irrelevant bullshit like record sales and rappers making money.

    it could be argued, however, that its not that mixtape rappers are bad and therefore mainstream rap is bad, but that rappers in general are bad (these days) and mixtape rappers are just another manifestation of this.

  • Belize

    congrats http://djxplicit.blogspot.com/ u can read!!!!!!!!

  • Doc Flav

    Mixtapes are designed first off to promote the DJ, then promote singles from established artists and then to insert special features by up and comers or exclusive freestyles from established artists and unknowns.
    “The thought alone that any old black kid in the ghetto is endowed, by nature, with some unimpeachable sense of taste always reeked to me of racism anyway.” That is a long stretch for racism, considering a large amount of the mixtape music in question is produced by the individuals they are crediting the influence to.

    The fact remains you really shouldnt be speaking on this genre of music and what goes along with it, your knowledge is limited, you are closed minded and by your writing it is not your particular music taste at all.

  • http://www.myspace.com/fexworld Cut Boy Fresh

    The key thing to remember about mixtapes is that they did not begin this way. All these exclusive mixtapes just came about BIG in the last 6-7 years. Mixtapes have always been a great tool for promotion but now the hustle is so strong that you can make people famous by flooding the streets with a name. I can take the worst rapper in the world and have him on 100′s of mixtapes dropping everywhere and even if you dont like him you will start to just because your being brainwashed to. Its all strategic marketing. Mixtapes are just tools used to promote… thats all…

  • X calibur

    saigon is my facorite thing
    X calibur

    bbbbbbrrrrraaaaattttttt