As a rule of thumb, I’m not much of a fan of the mixtape. The “traditional” mixtape, sure, that’s great, but not these mixtapes are used as an excuse to flood the market with half hearted, inferior, or just straight up crappy music. I realize it’s a lot easier to make music with the advancements in technology, but we don’t have to hear every single track you’ve ever made. In fact, I usually save most mixtapes to listen to when I have nothing else better to less to, which is almost never. But there are a few cats that are releasing album quality music in the forms of mixtapes, for one reason or the other. It’s those, the ones that could easily be an album, that I will go out of my way to give a listen to. Here are five of my favorite mixtapes (for the lack of a better word) that I’ve been jamming for the first few months.
5. DJ Low Key & Sounds Supreme - The Solution Tape #1 (Free Download)
It would be easy to say that Trav picked this because his close allegiance to Denver, or the fact that I’ve partied at the Solution in the past, or the fact that I have the utmost respect for DJ Low Key. But you’d be wrong. I picked The Solution Tape #1 because it contains a bunch of dope music on it. It’s like a real mixtape full of mostly exclusives. New music, not a bunch of recycled songs that you can hear in a number of other spots. It’s got joints from the Tanya Morgan cats, Von Pea, Illyas, and Donwill, it’s got hometown Denver favorites in Whygee and Kid Hum, talented L.A. cats such as Exile, U.N.I,. and TiRon all make appearances. Grand Che, Kooley High and Median are on it. Did I mention that this is mostly new music? I think my favorite joint would be Von Pea’s “Toss It Over”, which is produced by Suhburb. But you really can’t argue with most of these tracks, as it’s just dope track after dope track mixed together flawlessly.
4. Joe Scudda – Not Your Average Joe (FREE DOWNLOAD)
Justus League/Hall of Justus member, Joe Scudda is that cat a lot of us have been waiting for a proper album release from for quite some time. It seems we are getting closer and closer, as Not Your Average Joe might as well be an album since it’s just as good or better than three quarters of the so called albums being dropped out there presently. Scudda has got a little more aggressive on the mic than what I remember him three or four years ago, and for the most part it works. What he doesn’t have in straight up mic skills, he makes up in attitude, which sometimes is just as good as any big word spitter. While I never disliked Joe Scudda, it’s safe to say that he has improved in leaps and bounds since I first heard him on those bootleg JL mixtapes that were floating around on Napster earlier in the past decade. Dude is only going to get better. Release a damn album already.
3. Reason – Stalker Stories (FREE DOWNLOAD)
The Poorly Drawn People affiliate and Rhode Island native, dropped Stalker Stories, a well crafted mixtape before releasing his Landlords & Lullabies album at the beginning of the month. A large chunk of the tracks were produced by the new PDP wunderkid, Faliside, while the rest (minus track 5) were produced by resident PDP oldtimer, Dox. To be honest, this is just as cohesive as most albums and just as good. It even gives it’s parent album, Landlords & Lullabies, a run for it’s money and that’s not a knock on that album neither. It’s just a very good mixtape, there isn’t much difference in the quality of tracks that you would find on a regular album. Tracks like “Stalker Stories”, “It’s Not You, It’s Me”, and the posse cut, “All Together”. I could very easily seeing some of these tracks making the album as well and would have had no problem with it.
2. Blacastan – Masters of Reality (BUY)
Blacastan has slowly built a buzz as he gets ready to release his debut release, Blac Sabbath, on Brick Records. Needless to say, this is one cat I’ve had my eye on since his dope “Life of a Tape” single that dropped a couple of years ago. Since then, everything he blesses has been flames. Masters of Reality, I’ll call it a mixtape, was a Japan only release, and contains a bunch of stuff that has been previously released, but it’s nice to have all his recent appearances and works in one spot. Stuff like “Martyrs” (which uses a sample that I would never guess would work in a million years, but it’s actually dope as figgidy fuck), “On and Off the Mic”, and “It’s a Khrysis”, have all shown up on other projects, but I’m not complaining. Blac juggles the hardcore street image with that of just a straight up talented underground/backpacker emcee and it works well. It all just keeps raising the bar and expectations of the upcoming album.
1. X.O – One Ten
I’ll admit that I wasn’t as big of a X.O. fan as some of my fellow Bloggerhouse partners. Don’t get me wrong, he was dope in the Diamond District scheme they have going, but I thought his mixtape was the weakest of the batch released by the District members last year. He didn’t take long to correct himself in my eyes, from the first track, “1.1.10″, which might just be one of my favorite tracks of the year, he established that he wasn’t fuckin’ around this time. The One Ten project is a lot more solid, a lot more “traditional” sounding, and more musical than his previous mixtape offering. It leads me to think he might just be on the come up and I expect big things from this cat in the coming year.