A mixtape or mixed tape is a compilation of songs recorded in a specific order, traditionally onto an audio Compact Cassette.
A mixtape, which usually reflects the musical tastes of its compiler, can range from a casually selected list of favorite songs, to a conceptual mix of songs linked by a theme or mood, to a highly personal statement tailored to the tape's intended recipient. Essayist Geoffrey O'Brien has called the personal mixtape "the most widely practiced American art form", and many mixtape enthusiasts believe that by carefully selecting and ordering the tracks in a mix, an artistic statement can be created that is greater than the sum of its individual songs.
With the advent of affordable, consumer-level digital audio, creating and distributing mixes in the form of compact disc or MP3 playlists has become the contemporary method of choice, but the term mixtape is still commonly used, even for mixes in different media (for example, CD, MP3, MiniDisc, audio cassette 8 track). Video mixtapes have emerged as well.
In hip hop's earliest days, the music only existed in live form, and the music was spread via tapes of parties and shows. Hip hop mixtapes first appeared in the mid-1970s in New York City, featuring artists such as Kool Herc and Afrika Bambaata As more tapes became available, they began to be collected and traded by fans. In the mid-1980s, DJs, such as Brucie B, began recording their live music and selling their own mixtapes, which was soon followed by other DJs such as Kid Capri and Doo Wop. Ron G moved the mixtape forward in the early 1990s by blending R&B a cappellas with hip hop beats (known as "blends"). Blend tapes became increasingly popular by the mid-1990s, and fans increasingly looked for exclusive tracks and freestyles on the tapes.
Mixtapes are now commonly used by labels and new artists as a promotional tool, as a way of generating hype. An unsigned artist might release several mixtapes to generate buzz, leading to interest from record labels, while a signed artist may release a mixtape to promote a future studio album, in a sales model relying on word of mouth to increase the artist's credibility (known as "street cred"). Often each track on a promotional hip hop mixtape will feature the same artist, thus making it more difficult to differentiate from a standard album. However, these mixtapes will usually have much lower production values than a studio album (such as containing demos or rough cuts of the tracks), and contain numerous collaborations, remixes, freestyles and voice-overs, often arranged in a specific flowing fashion. It's common for such mixtapes to re-use previously heard instrumental tracks from other artists.
Most hip hop mixtapes are professionally packaged, with a CD and artwork, and are often housed in a slim-format jewel case, rather than the more expensive full jewel cases most retail albums come in. Hip hop mixtapes are usually sold on the street, given out at the artists' live shows, or through independent record dealers or mail order. Many mixtapes are also sold or given away for free in MP3 format over the internet.
The Naija music scene has caught up with the mixtape bug over the last few years, another indice that shows that we are moving up in the world of music making. Gone were the days when renowned artists released albums containing five songs and five instrumentals (Google it up, at least a million free instrumentals can be gotten over the internet at the click of a button!)
Now Naija rap artists release mixtapes containing numerous tracks that are not even going to be on their albums just to give the listening public a glimpse of what they are capable of so that when their albums do come out, they already have a fan base in queue to buy ‘em. Mixtapes making waves in my own music library for instance include “The Clone Wars” by SDC; “Money Long: The Mixtape” by Sauce Kid; The Big Chill Mixtape by J.Berg; “Da Freshness” Mixtape by Teeto. I’m also digging “Off tha Books-Mixtape” by Proverb (And by the way, that is one ill South African Mc to look out for! The guy has flows so sick, its like he’s puking brainwaves and ur ears are his barf bag); “Thiz mixtape” by Lecrae; and “SMD…The Mixtape (Chapter 1)” by MIMS among a host of others. What I was shocked to realize recently was that many people didn’t even get to listen to the “Illegal Music” mixtape by M.I which came out between his two albums (It is available freely online and can be described by a word my friend Barney taught me: AWESOME!!!!!) I always joke to friends these days that if you’re thinking of getting into music in Nigeria, please do not rap, and if you will…well, lemme just say you’ll have some tough competition breathing down your back.
Do you secretly nurse a dream of making a grand entrance into the Naija music scene? Well, I’ve got a time tested success nugget for you, make a mixtape!
Please feel free to drop comments below so I know I just wasn’t talking to myself. I also hope you’re inspired to click on the ads- that way my landlord doesn’t kick me out…lol
Reference: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia