True Life: I’m addicted to mixtapes.

23 Mar

Good evening to my hip hop headz, Miss JayDee is back to let you know what it is. Here’s a column that I wrote up real quick for my magazine writing class so I figured I’d throw it in here to give you all an update. It’s definitely hard to keep up a blog while I’m in school doing a ton of writing, but I’m definitely going to give it my all and try and stay updated. There’s just always so much to talk about, especially since I have mixtapes up to my eyeballs, which is not a complaint. Anyway, here’s just a quick column on the mixtape phenomenon. I would really love to dive deeper into this with a lot more research and some sources, but in the journalism world, a word limit is non-negotiable and a deadline is a death sentence if you don’t meet it. However, it’s definitely a project I’ll keep on the side and hopefully update from time to time to create a masterpiece. Anyway, here it is, hope you enjoy and learn a thing a two. If not, give me some feedback, comments or your own opinion. Tha Journalist LOVES to learn.

I wake up every morning with the same two thoughts, “coffee” and “music”, preferably in that order. I switch my iTunes from my “R&B lullabies” playlist to the “Recently Added” to refresh my memory on my newest download. I eat, sleep and breathe music, but lately it’s become an obsession. I try to blame it on figuring out my future career and educating myself on everything hip hop, but somehow my thirst is never fully quenched. As my eyes wander along my iTunes library, the trend is apparent, mixtapes are my obsession.

Mixtapes, a compilation of tracks on a CD, or how it began, on tape, is a promotional tool for artists both signed and unsigned. DJ’s created Mixtapes in the 80’s when they wanted to create a playlist of songs and mix them together in order to be recognized by artists and the public. As mixtapes grew popular, artists began to catch on to the trend and created their own. Depending on the status of the artist is how they use their mixtape. If an artist is unsigned they use mixtapes as a way to get their name out there and to collaborate with other artists, ideally artists that are more established than them. For signed artists, mixtapes are more of a pre-album hype, and a chance to get other artists, both established and up-and-comers, on their work. Remixes to previous songs or songs of other artists are also a popular theme on current mixtapes. The mixtape phenomenon translated into mainstream and soon casual music listeners were creating their own mixtapes by recording songs off the radio onto tapes.

I check my list of over 10 hip hop blogs and sites, both local and national, catch up on the latest mixtapes and artists that are receiving a lot of buzz. Currenthiphop.com, a site that refreshes itself multiple times a day, features the latest songs, remixes and artists. You can listen, in full, to each track and vote either thumbs up or down. If you sign in with your twitter account, where my other hip hop tweeters know me as “Tha Journalist”, a reference to the late and greatest producer in the business, J.Dilla, you’re able to download the track, for free. They also feature the latest in blog news, and the latest mixtapes that are also available for free download. As soon as I sign into the site, I go straight for my Twitter, where my favorite artists are tweeting about their latest work, mainly mixtapes, and where to download for free.

A lot of the sites I check, newenglandhiphop.com, thesmokingsection.com, imflashy.com, were introduced to me through word of mouth. Hip hop, although very mainstream, still has a heavy grass roots movement that connects the people of hip hop. Before it was mostly selling mixtapes out of a backpack on the streets and knowing who was the best source to get the latest; now, it’s about what site offers the best mixtapes and if they’re free.

The most prominent mixtape website, datpiff.com, was introduced to me by a homeless man when he heard I was listening to an underground artist, J.Cole, in my car. He approached my car while yelling, “THAT J.COLE IS FIRE.” Normally, I’d roll up my windows and drive off, but luckily his quick knowledge of the underground music intrigued me. We spent over a half an hour discussing our favorite artists, what we were currently listening to and he gave me the website that provoked an addiction that I refuse to kick. My love for hip hop grew vastly after that day, not only because I get to download three mixtapes a day without spending a dime, but because it brought me and someone who I normally would shun together over our love for hip hop.

After I scan through my daily sites and I tweet, I head over to my blog Beats, Rhymes and Life, and write a few blurbs about my thoughts for the day and how I feel about the latest mixtapes. One of my recent posts was dedicated to the hip hop magazine XXL’s recent cover, 10 Freshmen for ’10, a mixtape featuring 10 new artists that they believe have the most potential. The mixtape has generated unbelievable buzz for the artists, and have made J.Cole, a recently unknown artist, into the newest online celebrity. Other new, famous artists that have become successful due to their mixtapes include Drake, Kid Cudi, and most importantly, Lil’ Wayne. Lil’ Wayne, one of the biggest names in hip hop, has eight studio albums and 11 mixtapes, which goes to show that mixtapes are more important in the hip hop culture, than albums. If I were to listen to Lil’ Wayne’s discography alone, according to my iTunes, it would take me a few days.

There’s nothing more fulfilling than to follow an artist from the beginning of their mixtapes and watch them slowly evolve and create a studio album as the mainstream suddenly becomes obsessed. Hail to the mixtape phenomenon, a tradition that created hip hop and continues to keep it alive.

###

Before I go, I’m going to include what I’m listening to- whether new or old, cuz this girl can’t stray from old skool jams. Lauryn Hill’s The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill just has my soul singing this week.

“Lauryn say her her heart was in Zion, I wish her heart was still in rhyming.”- Yeezy

TRUTH.

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One Response to “True Life: I’m addicted to mixtapes.”

  1. Fahim March 25, 2010 at 4:18 am #

    Hey,

    I found your post to be an amazing read. I’m the guy behind CurrentHipHop, and this post fell into my e-mail because of the honorable mention.

    Shoot me an e-mail. I’d be interested in chatting about this topic.

    – Fahim

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