The Mixtape Over The LP

For the past few months, I’ve preferred mixtapes over albums. Not because I’m some hardcore hip-hop fan who is “anti-commercial” or “anti-radio.” I’m just tired of the cookie-cutter B.S that is packaged in FYE for $13.99. I’m a fan of replay value, and as it stands, mixtapes just provide that more than an official LP with more tracks I can find myself playing long after the project is released.

Mixtapes seem to allow an artist more freedom on the type of product they’d like to release. If labels knew exactly how to make the same money off tapes that they do with albums, who knows where the music industry would be?  Think about it in the case of Gucci Mane. This guy created one of the most significant buzzes in recent memory through a line of mixtapes. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve listened to a Gucci tape and thought ,“Damn, he probably really saved this for the album.” And look what happened, The State vs. Radric Davis turned out to be a flop thanks in part to tons of songs that sounded rushed and forced. “Wasted” was one of the better singles/songs on the whole LP. But how does the label decide to follow that up? With “Spotlight” featuring Usher, one of the worst singles I’ve ever heard.

Look at Loso for a more recent example. The buzz surround There Is No Competition 2 trumped that of any Fab album of recent memory. It may have had something to do with the numerous push-backs, but the fact still remains his mixtape following is just as, if not more, vocal than those who actually buy his albums. Nowadays you see more artists thinking of creative methods to promote their tapes as opposed to their albums.

As it stands, I know albums are supposed to cater to a wide demographic. But unless you’re Jay-Z, T.I., Lil Wayne, Kanye or Jeezy, chances you’re not going to do crazy numbers. At least not in this day and age. An artist stands more to gain from carefully planning a mixtape (with a thorough and creative marketing process) by attacking his hardcore audience and gaining a following from there. Look at Cam’ron and the Diplomats. Their albums were successful, but it’s their mixtape following as to why they’re generally held in such high regard. Remember Diplomats Vol. 1-5 and Juelz’s Back Like Cooked Crack series?

I’m not saying ALL albums recently dropped ”suck”, but frankly a majority of them do more than Karrine Steffans to a rappers d*ck. Overall, the planning behind them needs to change. I’m tired of hearing a hot mixtape only to be followed by a 12 track LP with only four quality records. The sooner these labels realize this, the sooner we can get back to having scratches on the back of our CD’s from playing them too much and less weed stains.

What do y’all think? Are most mixtapes better than albums nowadays?

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  • Worley

    Labels should abandon albums altogether in most cases. A better tactic would be cutting their losses by continuing to sell individual tracks for 99 cents. Just post a portion of the track on various websites and let people know where to buy it. There will be less overhead and fewer people saying so and so’s album sucks. Quite frankly, I don’t think some of these fools have a coherent album in them. Instead, some artists only have moments of brilliance or a niche audience at best. Everything ain’t for everybody.

  • AZ40

    I agree most recent albums have such in comparison to the new wave of street albums, I guess artist feel they can be “themselves” more on street albums without catering to the politics of the music industry. I agree with Worley they should have indiviual tracks and let the fans purchase the tracks they like, so everyone may have a custom type album and everyone will have a different version

  • John Cochran

    I could go the easy route and blame labels, but it’s really the artists chioce if they choose to sell thier souls. There are artists who choose to go indy to insure that they’ll have control and cater to thier core fans, and there are others who go with a major label for the exposure, and the label ends up convincing them to do more “universal” songs. I don’t agree at all with the dea of doing away with the album. That let’s already mediocre artists get away with only having to have a few good songs. Theres nothing like playing a great album all the way through, no peiced together radio single collection can give that feeling. Artists should have the integrity to deliver work that will last and stop being label hookers.

    • oskamadison

      @ John Cochran
      “…That lets aready mediocre artists get away with only having to have a few good songs. There’s nothing like playing a great album all the way through, no pieced together radio single collection can give that feeling.”
      The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. The only thing better than an album you can play from beginning to end is an album you can play from beginning to end repeatedly and hear something new each time. Remember a time when the FANS decided what would be the next single through radio station requests and feedback at shows? Now some 50 year old suburbanite with his head buried simultaneously up his ass and in the latest issue of Billboard feels he knows Hip-Hop enough to tell MC Pay Me what his audience wants. I’ll take a classic album over a hot (for the moment) mixtape every day of the week.

  • Jamal7Mile


  • beaver


    • Max Profit


  • Pierzy

    Interesting…I felt the same way last year:

    • $yk!


      That was a good blog P…

  • gaddic

    People blame the rap labels and record execs for the death of rap or the promotion of pop sounding hip
    hop music
    They are businesses with bills to pay
    And Pop music is documented as the highest selling genre(although it’s critically the weakest)
    It’s only smart business sense to go POP
    Rappers are the main reason
    They need to all take a stand against ringtone music and promote only high quality material
    Which will never happen!!!
    As long as their pockets are pilling up quick and fast and their discs are selling Both are content with selling garbage that makes a lot of money

  • brand-new

    i think the mixtape game is very important to an artist’s career. it helped the clipse stay relevant (got it 4 cheap), it helped lloyd banks come out of 50′s shadow (5 and better series),it proved fab has more to offer than radio hits (tinc). and for the record, i thought the nigger tape nas did with green lantern was wayyy better than the actual album. mixtape’s are def where it’s at right now. hip-hop has gone back underground.

  • Max Profit

    You laid it out perfectly!

    But this has been happening for a while.

    I never really listened to mixtapes back when most albums were still hot (1992-97)

    Now albums are just full of singles.A lot of rappers can’t spit like that. So labels don’t know what to do with good rappers. Labels are so greedy they losing money!!!

    At the end of the day I love the mixtape scene nowadays, it’s much better for the listener.
    Artist have to work harder now and that’s a good thing.

  • oskamadison

    Mixtapes should have one purpose and one purpose only: being a good appetizer before the main course. I like a bangin’ mixtape as much as anybody but when judging an artist’s body of work, I look at albums. If your label handcuffin’ you is the reason your mixtapes are better than your albums, that’s still YOUR fault. You knew what kind of label you were signing to when you put your name next to that x and if you didn’t, shame on your dumb ass, do better research next time. Even if there was a regime change at the label, it’s still on you to find that balance between what the label wants and what you want. I’ll tolerate your mixtapes for a minute as long as you follow up with a quality album.

  • Monsta Don

    With Mixtapes, you have way more freedom than with albums released thru the label system…no samples to clear…you can rap over other people’s beats…Fab tore Waka Flacka’s instrumental up…amongst others…sometimes other people just use those beats better than the original artist…especially when they creat a whole new song, and not just rap over it…but, the mixtape holds a lot more advantages than commercial albums…and the labels have themselves to blame for it…stop releasing/sanctioning the release of the obvious R&B collabo…they don’t always work. I think that’s the major reason why albums suck…the people talking to these artists try too hard…and wind up puttign out bullshit…songs outside the artist’s character, or just plain not good…and then blame it on people not wanting the artist to grow…GTFOH. Grow all you want…just don’t try to pass off that wack shit.

    Add to that, the short attention spans of the listeners and fans…then again, I think even that may be over-rated…’How Fly’ is just a collection of 2 verse songs, some with hook, some without…with 2 largely unknown quantities…and I STILL listen to that mixtape today…because it was fresh…it brought a good energy…and it stood out from the other shit that’s out…and that’s what these dudes out here aren’t doing…standing out…they attention whoring…but they not SHININ’.


  • Smokey

    I agree that many mixtapes now are pretty good and that a lot of albums are disapointing butisn’ that a reason to do less mixtapes. I feel like albums go under because of lack of good material but if an artist is putting out mixtapes with hella good tracks, if they saved a few of the best for albums wouldn’t that help. Artists trying to reach lots of audiences dilutes an album and mixtapes do seem to reach to a hardcore audience but i think that the solution is better albums, not more mixtapes.

  • El Tico Loco

    Lately mixtapes have been hotter than albums, so much hotter that even the artists seem more excited about the mixtape than the album.

  • NotoriousAGC

    i Rather listen to an album that filters out annoying ass dj’s screaming in between the songs also acting like they had something to do with the track, mixtapes consist of freestyles over someone else’s beats. fail.
    also miztape songs are like 1:10 long….what the hell is that?..thats just lazy LOL

  • BAR

    The industry needs more labels like Duck Down. Skyzoo’s The Salvation was the best LP that’s dropped in years

    • Pierzy

      I love that album.

  • NMcG

    Is this a re-post or did I read this article somewhere before???



  • yunggee

    ya want underground shit, album.. ya want mainstream shit, mixtape..

  • IndyKid

    This chick has mentioned the state vs. radric davis in almost every post I’ve read of hers. That automatically drops her down in my book….


  • MrCdotLowe

    Completely agree, i was just thinkin the exact same thing when i was listening 2 TINC2 if fabo made an album that was as raw as that it would defo b worth the purchase

  • hiphopbaby76

    i would really just focus on mixtapes cause it gives u a much broader veiw of the artists. if i buy a cd i generally wait till 2 or more songs come out b4 i buy it. like im 34 yrs old n i’ve been a hiphop fan like forever, but not all this bs that hits the airwaves like lil wayne,drake,wack flocka…like those r bullshit artist.

  • Teddy

    the album is what the mixtape used to be some throw away shits mixtapes all i basically listen to no one is even dropping albums u get like maybe 4- if lucky 5 good hip hop official releases a year dont even bothered actually i just bothered the other day copped the battl..oh wait downloaded for free battle of the sexs and id be pissed if i spent money i mean its goood its mmmmeh listened to it once n had no desire to listen to it again in the next few months just reinforced the idea more albums a doosh even lupe man his mixtapes were killer his albums lack that raw live feel of his takes he over does over thinks songs non of them sound natural they all sound so forced same as carter 3 compared to say dedication 2
    dono any albums that would have a track like weezys where he spints a billion bars no hook that shits ill no one even does that shit on albums no one wants to be creative they rather same formulated music same formatt hoook verse hook verse do something different damn

  • TicNitty86

    I actually think the opposite…I feel mixtapes help kill the game more so than help it. If you are a true artist and have luv for the culture you will put your all in an official album that people are supposed to buy. Why would I give my all on a mixtape thats free and when most check it out they will not connect with it personally its just whats “hot” in the streets right then. And they will be on to the next one once my mixtape full of just random crap runs its short course.

    I don’t know how deep the person who wrote this blog digs for there hip hop but I have heard some surefire albums in the last few years. If you only listen to what the radio and kiddie shows tell you to than of course you are not hearing many good-great albums. Expand your search.

  • The real chris

    i mean mixtapes really are really annoying stupid yelling dj’s yelling over the damn songs and than they starts the song over once it first get started. mixtapes are terrible and albums are the best, trust me its still some good albums out there so give them a chance.and im not just not just talking bout radio rappers.

  • Kappamike1

    Ummm… did this chick get a blogger’s spot on the site?? She is absolutely horrible and boring. Waste of space.

  • alderman j

    If you just make an album of HIGH QUALITY material, the label wont put it out, they will keep sending you back in the studio to come up with a hit!! Thats when rappers start forcing it and come up with these duds, anybody thats been around hip hop for the last 20 years,(oh, most of you dudes are between 21-25 so this doesnt apply to you) can tell the decline of the art form coinsided with the commercial success of it. The label usually chooses(pays for) the lead off single and the videos, if you think they dont dictate the content, you are useless in this debate!!!!

  • alderman j

    Karen Civil is a HIP HOP insider, shes been around for a while homey!! You could learn something from her, she has actually worked for a couple of rappers and held positions at labels!! Do your research slime!!! SHES CONNECTED!!!

  • Anonymous

    Well….she sure doesn’t write like she’s CONNECTED!!! Working for a rapper doesn’t make you a good writer or commentator. I don’t think being able to come up with interesting blogs and new ideas are a prerequisite. Most people that “work” for rappers are either weed carriers, “yes men”, or jumpoffs. LOL.

  • alderman j

    That wasnt the point!!!The point is she knows what she is talking about, she is actually around it. She may still be a weed carrier and a jump off, if lil cease had a story to tell about BIG, you would listen, but he still a weed carrier?? Get the point!!!!

  • Anonymous

    At least Lil Cease might at least be entertaining! That’s MY point…she ISN’T entertaining or interesting. She has not demostrated writing skills at all. Sorry if you think I”m insulting your dream boo. lol

  • DV8

    I see your starting to catch on to what makes the X-spot crowd tick.

    I feel you on this subject Ms. Civil

    I fux with mixtapes more then albums most albums suck nowadayz.

    BTW my current favorite mixtape is by an artist who has yet to drop a album and I actually hope he doesnt for fear that it may be a shit sandwich.

    Jay Electronica-Victory

    So your a industry insider huh? Thats why you have been playing it extra safe on the blog tip. Hey there is nothing wrong with pointing out the obvious. If an artist gets salty about something you said, then chances are there is some truth in what you said.

  • aquma

    I think it all depends. The mixtape market is straight flooded these days. I definitely agree that mixtapes allow the artist more creative control and freedom compared to sending 20-30 tracks to a record company, they pick which 12 THEY want and throw it all together on an album, though. Plus mixtapes help to get away with more uncleared sampling/beat jacking. BUT the main reason why labels turn their heads to uncleared samples and beat jacking on mixtapes is because they know that the tapes serve as free promotional material for the artist, and in theory, their eventual album. I see it as sort of a symbiotic thing.

  • mw2

    cosign dv8. victory is my shit!

  • aquma

    I actually thought about it some more and I think part of why mixtapes seem so much better than albums is two fold. 1) Rappers are free to just rap on mixtapes and don’t have to worry about doing something to please somebody else. The point is to show off their skills, isn’t it? At the same time 2) Mixtapes many times have a certain themes and concepts that go with them, much like an album should. This way the whole tape is like an experience that you listen to. I feel like the labels, many times, don’t really give a shit as far as a cohesive album goes and they would rather have a collection of radio friendly singles, which equals a much less creative product.

  • Mr. 306

    The mixtape scene has had many many many solid selections. There’s probably a good mixtape for every good album but the fact is that I can’t help but think the mixtape game and general over saturation has seriously aided in the loss of sales. I hate songs that are 30 seconds long and I hate even more songs that are called freestyles simply because an emcee goes continually for x number bars without a hook. Also you may be semi retarded because Eminem sells as well as anybody still. He also has never been too huge into the mixtape game. T.I. won’t sell this go around and neither will Jeezy. I’m a fan of both of them but that’s just what i think. Frankly Jay-Z could fuck around and squander his ability on another album with so-so lyrics and good production and not sell. I’d say that minus slim shady nobody in the game is safe from an album dud. Dr. Dre too….but you know what i’m saying.

  • TM

    its crazy that an artists best music comes out thru their mixtapes,but thats the way or rather the direction the corporate heads in them big buildings have pushed it.main reason is because they are used to sticking to a partiular formula which is usually something along the lines of rapper+rnb singer equals a succesfull single. this equation has not worked in recent history. and if that doesnt work they force or coerce an artist to do music in a way that has worked for another artist.(hence the influx of dance music following the sucess of souljaboy).mixtapes give creative control.that means that an artist can do whateva they want without the politics of an album.where did the album go?nowhere. if anything a lack of talent is the reason for poor LPs.a an up and coming artist i have more fun doing mixtapes because either i am trying to outdo the artist that originally made the song or i am putting my writing to the test and trying to make something out of something. to make a long story short,mixtapes are where its at. they appeal to a bigger audience and they a great catalyst for longevity.

  • mav

    i agree that most mixtapes r killin albums and it is bcuz you have more freedom and bcuz you dont always have hooks you can concentrate on just spittin i make music and i dont have a deal or nothin but yo mindset makin an album is all about it being a success there is way more pressure so u try to appeal to as many people as possible so it takes away your creative edge cuz you might find yourself makin lovey dovey records and shit 4 kids which is not why hip hop was created or why i make music sometimes i listen to my mixtapes and i feel like im spittin more but my songs mean more on an album cuz it usually has a message that im stickin to and thats the reason why album suck no message go back and listen to nas nigger album i used to think that album wasnt very good but he stays on topic and if u look at whats happenin to him now hes payin the price that knowledge he was droppin fried chicken project roach n.i.g.g.e.r
    sly fox queens get the money yall my niggas etc real good songs

  • steve sarria

    yo word up! when the artist hence the word art-ist. mos def needs that space of creative atmosphere.I agree with the mixtape concept its part of the foundation.hip=hop as an entirety has a foundation .without that concept of thought nd roots being displayed with that fresh emotional content coming from the mc ur killing the wave of wut real is.the element of mc’n has mixtapes i believe to make the mass aware of skill, word play,fresh voice display,story telling,vocab, brother shared that earlier” a catalyst”……(305) stigma-1 love