Mixtapes vs. Street Albums vs. EP’s – Re:Definition
Many street albums are incorrectly called mixtapes. Thus, when certain consumers listen to them, they’re often surprised at the quality of original studio music and lack of DJ skills shown (other than DJs smashing the drop buttons). Although they’re distributed virally and organically, they aren’t really a mix of anything other than that artist’s original music (i.e. an album).
I propose everyone to call these projects a street album, to clarify that it’s an original body of work unofficially released without sample clearances, record label interference, or anything else. DJs can still host these (as can ANYONE on projects that aren’t mixed together) as it’s often just talking/drops over the records, but not a true “mix” of music together or even of various artists/songs.
With artists needing music released in the marketplace, but not wanting to “officially” drop an album, EP’s have become the current “it” thing to do in hip-hop. Many artists are planning to release EP’s this year as a way to officially get out and monetize original music while building their buzz, without having the pressures of putting out a true album.
In addition, artists are also releasing street albums/EP’s at the same time, so they can provide physical distribution in stores (and when people search for that artist in the world’s biggest music store, iTunes), while still giving away the music to the true hip-hop heads, blogs, and growing their buzz organically.
Now, you may wonder why a category matters. It may not to many. But to purists and fans, I think it can help clarify and differentiate the rolls of each, and help all categories excel by not confusing consumers. Just my two cents after being in this game for a minute.
On another side note (ha!), thanks to everyone for the amazing reaction to all my blogs this week, and to XXL for giving me the outlet. I tried to provide a relatively unbiased opinion on all the subjects that I discussed. Agree or not, I hope it at least raised some ideas or thoughts in your head. I’ll be back soon…