As XXL has done in previous months, the end of March means we’ve combed through a number of mixtapes that were released. Yelawolf made a statement with his follow-up to Trunk Muzik, Jet Life’s own Fiend dropped a much-talked about tape, and Harry Fraud gathered his best songs as a free fan giveaway. There are some honorable mentions (Rich Boy’s Back to Class and Fred the Godson’s Contraband), but these picks here are guaranteed to have a couple of spins. With new releases of Chinx Drugz and ItsTheReal’s comedy tape Urbane Outfitters scheduled in April, take a look at some of the best mixtapes of last month.—Eric Diep (@E_Diep)


Harry Fraud, Adrift

Harry Fraud is slowly reaching superproducer status with the amount of notable releases under his belt. Having already landed production credits with Rick Ross, French Montana, Action Bronson and more, it’s no wonder his mixtape plays like a debut album. Adrift features a few old cuts and adds ten unreleased songs. There are contributions from just about every New York rapper here. Plus, songs with Pusha T and Fat Trel prove he’s continuing to shine as hip-hop’s brightest star. At 23 tracks long, Adrift is chock-full of heat from start to finish.


Yelawolf, Trunk Muzik Returns

Yelawolf goes back to his Alabama roots on Trunk Muzik Returns, a mixtape produced entirely by SupaHotBeats (formerly WillPower). It’s concise and shows his lyrical growth so far, especially on experimental tracks like “Box Chevy Part 4” and “Catfish Billy.” Elsewhere, Yelawolf teams up with A$AP Rocky and newcomer Big Henry on “Gangster” and trades rapidfire rhymes with two lyrical beasts on “Rhyme Room.” The new direction of Yelawolf is a welcomed change that doesn’t disappoint.

Fiend, Lil' Ghetto Boy

Jet Life’s Fiend plans on stepping out of Curren$y's shadow with Lil' Ghetto Boy. Fiend, a New Orleans native, combines his bluesy growl and gravelly storytelling for this 22 track exercise. The production here is breezy and lush, filled with live instrumentation that’s perfect for Fiend’s lyrics. It’s packed with guests like Styles P, Devin The Dude, Smoke DZA and Young Dolph. For a quick introduction, press play on “The Coolest” or the title track “Lil Ghetto Boy.” These selections and more are reasons to keep an eye out for Fiend in 2013.

ANTHM, Handful of Dust

The former XXL Freshman Blu is an accomplished producer, recently taking on the entire sonic direction on ANTHM’s Handful of Dust EP. The Los Angeles native uses these oft-kilter instrumentals full of airy jazzy loops and synths to recreate a laid-back feel. ANTHM rides each of his productions with ease, speaking on everything from resiliency to celebrating relationships with family and friends. Although it’s a tad bit short, it leaves you wanting more from ANTHM.

Deniro Farrar, The Patriarch

Deniro Farrar’s self-described cult rap gets another entry in The Patriarch. He’s been steadily building his brand on rap blogs for over a year now, and this second solo effort has grabbed our attention. The North Carolina MC has worked with producers like Friendzone and Ryan Hemsworth to help provide the proper soundscapes for his deeply personal tracks. There are also adequate doses of gangster tracks found in “Kill Your Idol” and “Thug Till I Die.” Most of us have labeled Deniro a dominant force in so-called “blog rap,” but there’s plenty here to take him to new levels.

Cap 1, T.R.U. 2 It

Chicago doesn’t have a shortage of budding MCs. Cap 1, who has worked closely with 2 Chainz, plans on recreating the same success as his mentor on T.R.U. 2 It. If the title didn’t give it away, the 17-track tape is more of the trap rap style that guys like Gucci Mane and Waka Flocka have mastered. The difference here is Cap 1’s unapologetic rhymes and catchy hooks make this a compulsively listenable tape. Travis Porter is featured on the tape, as well as mainstays like Young Jeezy, Game and French Montana. “Gold Wings” is a clear standout, and “Lo’n” featuring Nipsey Hussle is pure fun. It’s a tape crafted for your car stereo.


Gucci Mane, Trap Back 2

This might be the last time we’ll be hearing from Gucci for a while. It’s great to see the Atlanta rapper back on his rigorous release schedule, dropping Trap Back 2 and East Atlanta Memphis with newcomer Young Dolph pretty much back-to-back. Given his latest run in with the law and controversy with Waka Flocka Flame, Gucci looks like he’ll be taking some time off from the game. No worries though. Trap Back 2 is sprinkled with gems that are worth a few spins. Stylistically, it falls in Gucci’s extensive catalogue and is fitting for fans of his consistent street rhymes.

Travis Porter, Mr. Porter

The trio behind Atlanta strip club joints “Make It Rain” and “Bring It Back” dish out 22 more tracks to liven up any event. Mr. Porter showcases Ali, Quez and Strap sticking to the script of girls and partying over unshakeable drums and well-placed handclaps. Throughout the tape, simplicity plays a huge part in the tape’s appeal and energy. You aren’t going to get much from the lyrics; however, you will find yourself dancing to a few of its melodies. “Err Damn Day,” “Goin Deep” and “Pocket Watchers” are turn-up anthems.

HS87, All I Ever Dreamed Of

Hit-Boy’s star power as a producer is certainly unprecedented. In an effort to introduce rap fans to his Hits Since ’87 imprint, Hit released All I’ve Ever Dreamed Of. The compilation album has Hit-Boy in the background for Audio Push, K. Roosevelt and Kent Money to carry each of these songs. Hit-Boy has an ear for accenutuating talent, with much of the tape featuring some of his best beats for each member to hold their own. Lyrically, there are a few missteps, but overall it’s a solid debut for HS87. Check out “Them N***as,” “Cypher,” and “Shoebox Money.”

The-Dream, Parental Advisory

Technically, The-Dream released a compilation of sorts for his new mixtape, Parental Advisory, mixed by Mick Boogie. That doesn’t seem to bother longtime fans of Terius Nash. The 14-track tape is a teaser for his upcoming album, IV Play, which now has a May 28 release date. The singer-songwriter throws in hits like “Dope Bitch,” “Falsetto” and “Walkin’ on the Moon" featuring Kanye West. It’s definitely a strong collection of solo efforts and builds anticipation for his next project.