Thursday 11th July 2024
Durbar Marg, Kathmandu

Putting out a Mixtape is a popular medium artists and DJs use for getting new music out to the public or as some would put it “getting your music out to the streets”. Most mixtapes are currently in downloadable digital MP3 or Mix CD format but they still are called mixtapes because their original format was on cassette tape.

The first mixtapes were started by party DJs that recorded their live mixes at block parties and nightclubs. The original purpose of these mixtapes were to serve as demos to demonstrate the DJ’s abilities to rock a party as a party DJ and as a means of gaining new gigs and new fans. The mixtapes became quite popular, copies and duplicates were constantly made amongst fans and by the DJs themselves. Of course being that the first mixtapes were recorded onto cassette tapes only the direct duplicates made from the original master cassette had the best quality sound. The sound quality would degrade the further down the chain a copy was made for example a Copy of a second generation copy would not sound as crisp and might have more cassette tape hiss than a copy made directly from the original master cassette and a copy of a copy of a copy would definitely have serious sound quality degradation. That of course never stopped people from copying these mixtapes amongst themselves if they thought it was that good. After all, if the mixtape was that good people felt they had to have their own copy, but it did mean that it was still best if you could get one of the original copies direct from the DJs themselves rather than a 3rd 4th or 5th generation copy that had poor sound.

In the beginning all mixtapes were party mixes, mixed by party DJs. There were Hip Hop Mixtapes, Techno Mixtapes and House Music Mixtapes. Overtime the breadth and scope of mixtapes changed, eventually including mixtapes made specifically for music artists to get their music out into the streets as ways of finding new fans and creating excitement for upcoming music albums. These new album style mixtapes lead to an increase in Compilation album style mixtapes by DJs that no longer mixed their mixtapes but rather just compiled different music together and used their name as a DJ to call it a mixtape.

The change from mixtapes being on cassette to the new mix-CD versions and download versions have made it easier to now duplicate without sound degradation issues. The switch from mixtape cassettes to digital formated Mix CDs and downloads has also lowered the cost of duplication and distribution. The lowered cost of duplication and the compilation style (non-mixed) mixtapes inadvertently opened the flood gates for an abundance of mixtapes that no longer share the original qualities that made mixtapes popular in the first place.

Some people abuse the word mixtape as a means to sell albums that they don’t intend to distribute through normal store outlet channels. Lets face it a compilation of songs by different artists that is not mixed by a DJ is technically just a compilation album and not really a mixtape. Similarly a bunch of new songs by One artist is really just another album. The use of the word mixtape at this point may simply be to gain street credibility for the album or because the release is not a fully polished album release, it likely will contain songs intended more for “The Streets” that might be in direct contrast of an artist’s mainstream style songs you would find on their regular album releases. Mixtapes after all are a way for artists to stay in the public eye in between their full album releases. As such, it is expected that a mixtape release will have songs not originally intended for release on a regular album. It might contain freestyles and exclusives over other Emcees beats or over popular song instrumentals as a form of showing how well the music artist can flow over someone elses track or rhyme to someone else’s song concept. Many times clearing the samples on an album can take time. Whereas on a mixtape they are simply not cleared as they are not intended for commercial release but rather to be distributed in smaller quantities through the streets without compensation. The goal of an album is to make the artists and the label money. Whereas the goal of a mixtape is usually to increase awareness of the artist, and give the artist street credibility to reach the hearts of new fans they couldn’t reach through the radio and TV with their more mainstream tracks. The ultimate goal of these mixtapes is to increasing indirect sales such as merchandise, concert ticket sales and eventually also create an increase in album sales as well.

With the major success of artists like 50 Cent, T.I. Lil Wayne and Chamillionare who were all able to rise to superstardom using mixtapes as a major tool for success, many artists now utilize mixtapes heavily as a means of promoting themselves. A few DJs like DJ Green Lantern, DJ Khaled, and DJ Drama have also become famous through mixtapes by introducing fans to upcoming new artists and for being partly responsible for the success of many of today’s rap stars like Rick Ross, Paul Wall and a few others.

There are now countless styles of mixtapes, some are mixed many now are not. There are also themed mixtapes that either have a binding theme to them or have songs that have a similar theme to them such as the “Ear Candy” R&B series by DJ Big Spade, The “Southern Smoke” mixtape series by DJ Smallz, the “Gangster Grillz” Mixtape series by DJ Drama. My own mixtapes tend to be themed including the Iron Man Mixtape, Transformers Mixtape, 18K Dancehall Reggae mixtape series and the Michael Jackson mixtape. Each of theses mixtapes have their unique flavors styles and themes. The Southern Smoke series by DJ Smallz introduces new hot music and artists from the “Dirty South” so you can expect some gritty down south style Rap music and new hits from people like Ludacris, David Banner, T.I. and Gucci Mane. My Techniques mixtape series all have Action movie or kung fu movie based themes and are integrally tied together with the use of movie dialogue and smooth mixes to make an integrated mixtape theme that plays both like a mixtape and like a movie. DJ Big Spade’s Ear Candy series brings together flavorful R&B tracks to give the listener a sultry earful of great R&B to groove and dance or just relax with a loved one.

The mixtapes that tend to stand out the most and have a tendency to be the most listened to are naturally the mixtapes that are actually mixed. This is because the transitions on mixed mixtape CDs are generally smoother and easier to listen to due to their better music programing and gradual or exciting transitions. A DJ that mixes their CDs will most likely have a better understanding of programming the music to create a better overall mixtape that can be played straight through without the need for skipping around tracks as one would on certain albums.

Mixtapes that are mixed usually have some hot exclusive tracks you will not find anywhere else because the DJs have created their own remixes and DJ Blends exclusively for these mixtapes. Some DJs do this more than others and some DJs we recommend like DJ Silva Sirfa are considered Blend DJs. They put out what is referred to as Blend mixtapes where almost every single track on the mixtape is an exclusive remix of One song over another song’s instrumental. Most DJ mixed mixtape CDs will usually incorporate at least a few blends and remixes created by the DJs themselves. We recommend you find a few DJs you like and check out their mixtapes. Chances are if you like One of their mixtapes you will probably like most of their other mixtapes as well. turquli serialebi

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