Words by Preezy
In this new music landscape the mixtape has become essential to an artist’s career. Long gone are the days when getting a single on the radio, a video on TV and releasing a debut album was the standard approach to gain awareness with fans. With the rise of music blogs and the means to record tracks being more accessible than ever, artists now have a conduit to get their music out, with or without the help of a record label. The tables have turned and now the artist is empowered like never before, with a direct pipeline to the people via the internet.
This new way of doing things may not sit well with some and has its downside, but the benefits are many. A number of talented artists we may have never heard of have been given the chance to tell their story and deliver their art the way they see fit.
Usually, the first major step to an artist gaining traction today is through the release of a free mixtape or unauthorized album released online. While in the past, artists have released tapes with them rhyming over beats previously used by notable artists, the new crop of upstarts entering the game are opting to use original beats from their own producers (or themselves) and are more likely to drop a song than a one-off freestyle. In turn, many of these projects now have the quality of an actual album, instead of just being a handful of loose tracks pieced together on a CD-R or as a download link.
As a result these free releases have accounted for better music than some of the albums trotted out on a commercial level, with some of today’s biggest stars having gained prominence before having sold a single record or having BDS spins.
With that said, we have decided to compile what we feel are 10 of the best mixtapes that are on par with what we’d expect from a debut album. Criteria for this list is that the mixtape could not initially be an official release, even on iTunes (sorry, “Section 80”) and that it had to be well-received by most accounts and made the artist a fairly household name on the net.
See if your favorite tape made the cut.