The mixtape has a storied history in hip-hop, originating within the genre way back some time in 1970s New York, and has continued to grow in popularity from the late ’90s until today. Nowadays the mixtape holds a special sense of value; as the internet has begun to kill the CD (and long after cassette tapes have been chucked in the bin) and the Soundcloud generation has emerged – mixtapes are arguably more important to hip-hop artists, and fans, than ever.
Consider that most artists contemporarily make their money from tours and merchandise, as opposed to ‘album sales’, the Soundcloud mixtape begins to make considerable sense as the Holy Grail of a rapper’s repertoire. Kind of like how duct tape is a cure all for everything*, picture mixtapes as the same thing.
With that in mind, embrace the power of the tape and feast your ears on these!
Bodega BAMZ – All Eyez Off Me
Nobody would argue the significance of a certain Tupac Shakur in terms of influence on hip-hop and culture as a whole, with the late rapper almost universally agreed to be one of the single most important artists to have ever lived. Hailing from Spanish Harlem in New York, Bodega BAMZ presents himself with a notably high level of respect and admiration for the late rapper, exemplified on his latest mixtape, All Eyez Off Me. Not only does the title pay homage to the late legend’s All Eyez On Me, but BAMZ having also released the tape at 4:03PM (New York time) – the time of day rumoured to be that which Tupac Shakur died at on September 13, 1996. While greatly different artists, the influence of Shakur on BAMZ is ultimately apparent on All Eyez Off Me. The rapper is doing a considerable amount to legitimise the artistry of the languishing art of ‘street rap’ in 2016. Listen below, and find Bodega Bamz on Twitter here.
Smoke DZA – George Kush Da Button: Don’t Pass Trump The Blunt
Having only featured one of the tape’s highlight tracks (the Mac Miller produced Beloved) just yesterday in our Rap Wrap, it’s only fitting that the Kush God Smoke DZA‘s fresh tape (and follow up to March’s He Has Risen) makes an appearance in this list of Mixtape Madness. Borrowing a title from DZA’s 2010 tape George Kush Da Button, the latest DZA offering is, in typical Kush God fashion, a smooth ‘weed rap’ offering featuring such high-profile collaborations from Joey Bada$$, A$AP Rocky, Domo Genesis and Action Bronson. And, of course, no Smoke DZA tape would ever be truly complete without a Rugby mention. Enjoy below.
KEY! – Before I Scream
It only takes thirty seconds of listening to KEY! rapping to realise that he’s an Atlanta talent, with the ATL trap sound having become so distinguishable in recent years – not to mention popular, with the rise of ATL talents such as Young Thug, Rich the Kid, Migos and, more recently, Lil Yachty. In fact, as if to further reinforce the fact that KEY! is a thoroughly Atlanta talent, the aforementioned Lil Yachty is tossed a guest appearance on KEY!’s brand new Before I Scream tape, although this is a tad overshadowed by a further guest verse from grime lord Skepta, absolutely the highlight of the tape. And if that isn’t a reason to pay attention to KEY! then I honestly can’t help you, because Before I Scream is evidence sure enough that KEY! is a unique talent even in the stacked ATL scene. Peep the tape below, and throw KEY! a follow on Twitter here.
*Disclaimer: It actually isn’t a cure all for everything, and that wound is now infected, so please seek immediate medical attention.
Image: Smoke DZA