First things first….the term “mixtape” needs to to be updated. There is neither “mixing” nor “tape” involved in the glut of promotional CD’s flooding the internet, chain stores and bootleg card tables around the globe. Yes, it’s an obvious and much-laboured point but one that nevertheless needs to be addressed. XXL review “bootlegs”, but these are not necessarily the same thing. While it’s appropriate for crudely made “Best of” compilations, the term certainly doesn’t apply to corporate releases like Fabolous’ “Street Dreams Pt. 2”, which even had print ads.
My solution? Blame Clue. He realised that while his comp was spending time blending, cutting and mixing all he needed was “exclusives” to stand out from the pack. The result was tapes with an expiry date. If you pull out an old Tony Touch tape from the early 90’s and compare it to a Clue release from the same period, you’ll find that Toca’s tape still shines as a complete package, despite the dated material, while The Questionmark man’s effort is headache inducing. Sure, there might be a dope LOX freeestyle on there but the other 57 minutes will consist of yelling over every track, no sign of mixing and generally shitty track selections.
The next thing you know, G-Unit make a killing and inspire every rapper without a deal to release a CD of verses over the “Tipsy” beat, or worse still, failed groups attempting to make a comeback. Combine this with the glut of remix albums and “classics” mixtapes, and the whole market is severely over-saturated.
Nevertheless, there are still some great “traditional” mixtapes coming out – The P Brothers dropped the incredible “Zulu Beat”, which ressurects the original show with Donald D in tow and a bunch of breaks that you most likely never knew existed, and Mista Sinista and co delivered the almost-perfect “Large Pro Mix 2003”, which should be used as a blueprint for an future additions to the already swollen library of “Best Of” releases (it falls short of mixtape perfection due to the inclusion of awful new tracks like “Brand New Sound”, but since it was a radio show to promote the “First Class” album I guess that was unavoidable!).
That’s not to say that I’m against some of the new style “mixtape” bootlegs, as they tend to provide the only outlet for raw lyrics over dope beats….both of which are watered-down for retail consumption. D-Block and G-Unit are both good examples of this, as someone like Lloyd Banks displayed exceptional flows on the old mixtapes but his retail stuff is bland as canned ham. Or maybe he just used up all his good verses?
Until this whole mixtape fiasco gets sorted out, I’ll be waiting for the Blaq Poet album to drop.
(If you were expecting some kind of conclusion to this article, you need to seriously consider lowering your expectations).
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