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FAQ: Mixtapes in Hip-Hop

10 Jan

A mixtape is a promotional collection of songs produced as a showcase of either an artist or DJ’s abilities. Named so after the cassette tape format they originally were created on, modern mixtapes are now more likely to be found as CDs or downloadable MP3 files.

For the most part mixtapes are free of charge, whereas album releases are the opposite. In terms of cost, albums are expensive to make and usually require record deals (or in the case of independent label releases, a distribution deal) to be released nationally, whereas mixtapes travel just as far via the web, and are thus the best way for unsigned artists to gain more attention and get their work spread to their target audiences. Due to the cost of album production, record labels often allow their signed hip-hop artists to release promotional mixtapes in between album releases, so as to generate online buzz and feedback regarding the content, which in turn acts as a cost-efficient way for the labels to tweak the upcoming album to fit the feedback and thus avoid an expensive flop. Continue reading


My Top 5 Rap Albums of 2010 (and a Poll for yours!)

6 Jan

2010 was a considerably successful year for hip-hop and rap music both commercially and musically, from platinum-selling debut albums to worldwide chart-topping singles from the veterans of the genre. Here is a personal list of my highlights last year (iTunes links are provided via clicking the album name):

Although one of the most respected rappers in the world, one of Nas’ persistent weaknesses (to the frustration of his fans) is his self-confessed inadequate selection of beats and producers. It was to his fans’ relief, then, when he collaborated with reggae artist and producer Damian Marley on a project that left him solely in charge of the rapping, to superb effect. Nas’ raps discussed a range of his matters from his divorce to the future of mankind, and was accompanied by some fantastic cameo performances from Lil Wayne and K’naan (whose appearance on ‘Tribes At War’ is a particular highlight) . Whilst the relaxing summer track ‘Count Your Blessings’ was to be expected from reggae producer Marley, the boom-bap album opener ‘As We Enter’ and the eerie tribal chant-sampling ‘Patience’ showed a versatility that kept the album interesting and thoroughly listenable from start to finish. Continue reading

Why Wale would ride with the Maybach Music Group

13 Dec

The MMG Logo

Recent posts on Wale’s twitter feed have sparked rumours that the D.C.-based rapper is to be unveiled as the latest signee to Def Jam’s Maybach Music Group (MMG). Should it emerge that the label has managed to persuade Wale away from the management of Jay-Z’s ever-strengthening Roc Nation roster, it would be seen as a significant coup by the label that was only founded in 2008. So why would such a move be considered by both parties? Continue reading

B.o.B – ‘No Genre’ Mixtape (FREE DOWNLOAD)

7 Dec

CLICK ABOVE FOR DOWNLOAD: Click 'Free Download' on the screen that appears, and then click on the giant 'File Download' black tab on the next screen.

In the last 24 hours international chart-topper B.o.B. has released a free mixtape for his fans, which you can download by clicking the mixtape cover above.

The mixtape, entitled ‘No Genre’, is a return to B.o.B.’s deeper rap roots, and is largely a far cry from the debut album ‘The Adventures of Bobby Ray’ that was a smash hit worldwide with its number 1 singles ‘Nothin’ On You’ and ‘Airplanes’. Continue reading

Forgot About Dre?

7 Dec

In the last fortnight, hip-hop related talk has been dominated by the response to Kanye West and Nicki Minaj’s respective album releases. However, in the same week as both LPs were made available, some news that many have been waiting for appeared to slip under the radar, or at least received a muted response. It was the liberation to the masses of the Dr. Dre single ‘Kush’ (see above), that is scheduled to be the first single from the long-awaited ‘Detox’ album, which was announced to be due for a February 2011 release. So why isn’t the music world jumping up and down screaming at this news? Continue reading

Kanye West – ‘My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy’

17 Nov

One of five album covers available for MBDTF

In a year that saw his media popularity decline significantly following Taylorgate (as if he wasn’t struggling enough before that), it was important for Kanye West to focus primarily on his next musical project and produce an album that would make the world forget about his mistakes outside of the recording studio.

In the summer, Kanye begun a weekly series of free downloads known as ‘G.O.O.D. Fridays’ (referring to his G.O.O.D Music record label) that increased the anticipation of a project that was already eagerly awaited upon following the left-field offering of his previous album ‘808s & Heartbreaks.’ The release of West’s short film Runaway also contained songs from MBDTF on its soundtrack, giving fans a sneak preview of the project.

Although ‘My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy’ will not be officially released until November 22nd, I have obtained a preview copy of the album, and below is a track-by-track review of the album: Continue reading