When these compilations became very popular in the late 1990’s and 2000’s there were not as many DJs as there are today. A few of the top DJs were DJ Clue, DJ Kay Slay, DJ Envy, and DJ Whoo Kid. Nowadays it is hard to find a release from these DJs. Although out of all of them, you are still likely to find a DJ Whoo Kid mixtape release. DJ Envy now hosts a morning radio show with Angela Yee and Charlamagne Tha God. DJ Kay Slay releases maybe 2-3 mixtapes a year at most. The last release by DJ Clue was in 2009 and for a short time he was a VJ host on MTV. In today’s world of music, the market is heavily saturated with compilations containing much of the same music being released at the time. Back in the DJ Clue and DJ Kay Slay days, many did not contain the same music at all. The DJs would also have problems with each other if one of them released a track that the other had already released. Today, it is very commonplace to find many of the products with the same tracks. Back when DJ Clue and DJ Envy were releasing projects, they only released about 1 every 1-2 months. People could not wait for these DJs to release a mixtape and when they did, people did whatever they could to get the exclusive release. Today, DJs release drops every 1-2 weeks and most of these are overlooked because there are just so many products being released that it’s not such a hot product anymore. With today’s technology it is very easy to find music on the internet and put together a mixtape. Back in the day, the popular DJs that were releasing exclusive music had an inside connection with record labels.
When DJ Clue was releasing drops, most of the tracks had well-known established artists with maybe 1 or 2 unsigned artists. Today is the opposite, these compilations are filled with unsigned artists and have only a few tracks by popular music artists. In the past, DJs would frequently give shout outs over the most popular or unheard tracks. This kept other DJs from stealing their music and claiming to have it first. Shout outs are still common today, but not nearly as frequent as they once were. They used to hold an event in New York City every year similar to the Grammies, but for mixtapes. This event was called ‘Justo’s Mixtape Awards’, but that event no longer takes place. One reason the event may not take place anymore is because the awards show would end very early with mixtape DJs backstage fighting with each other. It may have become too dangerous to hold the award show and was ended before someone was fatally hurt. Another awards show is the SEA which stands for ‘Southern Entertainment Awards’. Information about this awards show can be found online by searching Google.
There are many ways a music compilation can be put together. Some DJs even release projects that are entirely blends. A blend is when the acapella of a popular song is mixed together with an instrumental of another popular song. This produces a new sound. Some of these blends are great and some you will want to pass on and skip to the next track. A few of the popular mixtape blend DJs are DJ Vlad, DJ Cinema, DJ Ty Boogie, and Mista Rello & Jadel. Although blend projects are not as popular now as they were about 6-7 years ago, DJs continue to release them.
Another mixtape format is a ‘best of’ mixtape. Some DJs can produce these mixtapes consisting of 100+ tracks. Since 100 tracks is over 80 minutes of music, which is well over the standard 80 minute CD, these tracks can only be around 1 minute long. Even though the songs are so short, it is a sample of the featured artist’s musical work and makes for a great listening experience. One of the most popular DJs to do these types of products is Rob E Rob. He has released many ‘best of’ drops consisting of over 70+ tracks. For a DJ to be able to release a mixtape with that many songs by an artist also tells you that this person is serious about their music career. If they already have a greatest hits mixtape with that many songs, then they have a bright and lucrative future in the music industry.
One method for a hip hop music artist to be recognized in the mixtape community is to freestyle over the beat of a popular song. Some artists rely solely on this to gain acceptance and recognition in the hip hop community. Well-known artists do this to show they can take a popular song, flip it to their style and be able to make it a hit record as well. This was the primary format used in the beginning on mixtapes. Fabolous would do this to show he can take a popular song and make it even better with his style of rap. Music artists still do this today, but it is not used as heavily as it once was. Also freestyles are not very long, the majority only lasting around 1 minute and 30 seconds on average. Today, artists will record full original songs with original beats as they would for a retail album and release them on these music compilations. These products are official releases to let the public know that it is not just some product consisting of the artist’s music released by a DJ without their knowing. Many of these drops exist to try and hype up the DJ as having exclusive access or content when they really do not.
There are many artists who have been discovered through these products and have landed major recording deals. One of the first who was featured on many DJ Clue releases was Fabolous. His real name is John David Jackson and is from Brooklyn, New York. He first appeared on DJ Clue drops in 1995 and after that was featured on many of his projects. His slick freestyles and catchy jingles is what landed his a recording deal with Elektra Records. He ended up releasing 6 albums and is still going hard in the underground scene. Just this past December of 2013 he released his 3rd official feature in the series titled ‘The Soul Tape’. This series alone solidifies his presence in the rap music genre, as well as the underground game.
One of the most notable and famous rap artists to be signed to a major recording deal after being discovered through mixtapes is Curtis Jackson better known as 50 Cent. He is well known as the rapper who was shot 9 times and did not die. His first retail album was ‘Power of the Dollar’ in 2000, but it was never released. After this, he resorted to distributing his music to the streets and then finally landed a million dollar deal with Eminem on Shady Records in 2002. Before he released the highly acclaimed ‘Get Rich or Die Trying’ in 2003, 50 Cent released about 4 features consisting solely of him and his G-Unit crew. G-Unit was comprised of 50 Cent, Lloyd Banks, and Tony Yayo. The projects he released in the following order were ’50 Cent is the Future’, ‘No Mercy, No Fear’, ‘God’s Plan’ and ‘Automatic Gunfire’. A few weeks after his highly successful ‘Get Rich or Die Trying’ album was released to retail markets, he dropped another mixtape titled ‘Bulletproof’. All of these drops were hosted by DJ Whoo Kid who was just as famous as G-Unit at the time. 50 Cent’s fame helped launch Whoo Kid’s DJ Career. 50 Cent went on to have an excellent career in music even though it did not last as long as anticipated. Most of his wealth was acquired from Vitamin Water which was sold to Coca-Cola for 4 billion dollars. His share in the health drink was 250 million dollars. 50 Cent also went on to release a retail album with his G-Unit crew entitled ‘Beg for Mercy’. The artist Young Buck was added to G-Unit after Tony Yayo became incarcerated. Another rapper that was eventually signed to G-Unit because of his freestyle material was west coast music artist The Game, who is now known as just Game. G-Unit and Game had their differences and split. Eventually Young Buck also followed and split from G-Unit.
What is a mixtape you might ask? In today’s music industry a mixtape has a few different meanings. It can contain one single artist’s musical works with other featured artists, many different artists on a compilation mixtape, or even just instrumental tracks from one producer or many producers. This article will discuss each of those topics.
When a music artist releases a mixtape, they are either signed to a major music label and want to keep fans interested or is an unsigned artist and is looking to sign a recording contract. When an already established major recording artist releases a mixtape, they are letting fans know they still have what it takes to make hits and also hype up their next album release at the same time. A great way for unsigned artists looking for a record deal is to release a mixtape. With the internet, mixtapes and music can be heard by anyone at little to no cost. Music artists do not have to know someone on the ‘inside’ of a recording label in order for someone to sample their music. It’s as easy as taking a few minutes to go on the internet and give a listen. Some artists that have just been signed to a major recording contract may be required to continue to release street products before they actually release their debut album. This will help the record companies get a feel for how this artist will perform for them in the long run. Some unsigned artists that have signed a deal with a record company and have released a underground product or two after that, may find that they no longer can live up to the hype they had before signing a recording deal.
Sometimes these music compilations contain many different artists and their musical work. What this does is help save the record companies money by releasing a few of their artist’s tracks and seeing which gets the most positive feedback. They will let the streets help them make a decision on what is the best track to release as the next single. This will make sure the record companies do not waste money on releasing a single that will just become a flop.
Music producers also use mixtapes to let record companies they are serious about making beats for major recording artists. Half of a hit song is the instrumental part. Although not nearly as popular as a recording artist’s mixtape, they still aid record comapines that are seeking star talent.
In today’s digital age of music, downloading music is very common. Mobile phones have evolved to allow you to browse the internet anywhere you are. You can also plug headphones into your mobile device and listen to music you have on it or on the internet. What defines a mixtape today is much different than what a mixtape was 20 years ago. Mixtapes 20 years ago were mostly many different musical tracks recorded on a cassette tape. Today, even though cassette tapes are obsolete and the new format is CD, which is on its way of being replaced by digital music, these compilations are still called by the same name.
These products in the hip hop and rap genre are used today to break new artists. Unknown or well-established artists use musical tools to hopefully land a recording contract with a major record label. In today’s hip hop music industry, it is a must even for signed music artists to release projects to the streets. This helps to keep the artists relevant with their fans and also remind them that they still have what it takes to make hit records. Many artists will release free music downloads in between their album releases to hype up their retail efforts. Sometimes, if not most of the time, these projects are better and more in tune with the artist’s emotions then their retail album. This is because many of the record companies want their music to be album specific and liked by the general population. Mixtapes contain raw and uncut music that may not be suitable for an album, so it is released on a mixtape.
These products have been around for a very long time, but one artist that made these underground music compilations very popular was 50 Cent. He claims to have to be the inventor of these projects, but that is not true. Artist were being signed from street material before him. 50 Cent may have invented releasing a whole project with just him and his G-Unit members on it, but he did not invent it. DJ Clue, Fabolous and a whole slew of other artists would say otherwise.
Many aspiring hip hop musicians use these music compilations to help boost their career. They use this as a way for their music to be heard. Anyone that is serious about their music career will use this product to help establish them in their local community, city, state or even worldwide by means of the internet. Although these works mostly contain hip hop and rap music, some r&b artists have also used them to help establish themselves.
It used to be that these products in the 1990’s and early 2000’s could only be found at your local mom and pop’s stores or at the barber shop. These places of business would make purchases in bulk and sell them for a profit. This was done under the table since these products were never cleared of any copyright issues with the record companies. Some record store’s would also sell these under the counter or would give them away for free with the purchase of a retail album. This method would entice people to buy a retail album from the store in order to obtain a copy of a music compilation they wanted. They were originally circulated on cassette tapes, but as technology has evolved, the faster, cheaper and more efficient way to distribute these musical projects is on CD media. Just one computer tower containing 11 CD burners can produce up to 11 drops within a matter of minutes, so this method is very quick, easy, and consumes much less time than dubbing on cassettes. Eventually some of these business that were selling were raided by the RIAA and they faced hefty fines and possible jail time.
The internet is what made them as popular as they are today. These products began on the internet in 2002 and were distributed the same way as they were on the streets. Although a business on the internet is a little smarter on how to distribute them without facing any legal issues. Hard copies of mixtapes are still distributed on the internet today, as well as at your local mom and pop’s stores. Another way to obtain these music compilations is through digital download. This has become the most popular method for these products to be distributed. It is easy to do, the only wait time you have is based on your internet connection speed, almost always free to download, and best of all you never have to leave your house! This method helps to get an artist’s work to a ton of their fans quickly rather than take the time to produce and distribute hard copies. It is also much cheaper and faster to do it this way. Using this method, rap artists can obtain the feedback they are looking for much quicker and at a much higher rate. The only downside of digital downloads is that fans might put the artist’s hard work at their disposal and not have much appreciation for it. Where as if they took the time to obtain a copy from one of their local mom and pop’s outlets, they might appreciate the artist’s hard work more. There is also a downside to purchasing hard copies because you run the chance of the products being a bootleg and not being a legit copy of the music artist’s work. When you download these projects, there is no worry if it is a bootleg or not. Going on the internet is also a way to obtain free mp3s.