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?