Are Mixtapes Making Hip-Hop Music Too Disposable?



The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of AllHipHop.com


In the calendar year 2013 Gucci Mane has released six mixtapes. Well let me be more accurate… “six mixtapes that I personally know of”  and there might be more. In the last few years artists like Tyga, Wiz Khalifa,  The Weeknd, Smoke Dza, Mac Miller, and The Game have released multiple album length projects of original music (that’s songs with original production not just jacking an existing instrumental) and called these creations “mixtapes”.

These are basically free albums but their ubiquity in the genre and the frequency with which they’re released lead one to question the amount of effort the artist puts into the tracks. Way back in the pre 50 Cent era artists driven mixtapes were rare and usually comprised by DJ’s based on b-sides, remixes, and material that was never intended to see the light of day.  But now the frustrating process of relying on a label’s marketing department/ street team to keep your name relevant between proper budgeted releases can be avoided by savvy emcees looking to keep their fanbases interested. So the mixtape model flourishes. And we continue to listen because sometimes these mixtapes are genius. But the risks associated with a mediocre or wack effort are little. In 2013 after all it’s not like anyone actually pays for mixtapes.

[ALSO READ: Hip-Hop Rumors: Gucci Mane And Marilyn Mansion: Best Friends?]

So emcees check into the studio daily and turn making music into something akin to a 9-5. The result can vary depending on an emcee’s creative process. Some have a cadre of frequent collaborators at the ready to offer support. Some prefer to work in solitude brooding over even the most insignificant ad lib and some can walk into the study at 3am on a Monday morning and have the mixtape on datpiff by 3PM Monday afternoon.  What this leads to inevitably though is disposable raps. Some rappers can reach their creative peak before the first album even drops. Some can have very inspired moments on these mixtapes where they are basically workshopping ideas for their main releases like a comedian building up their set  before an HBO special. Rick Ross for instance had a mixtape called “The Albert Anastasia EP” that was basically a rough draft of what the album “Teflon Don” became. (It also was the first place to hear massive hit single “BMF”).

But when an artist drops a mixtape every quarter, or sometimes even more than that, it can be hard to distinguish what makes their proper releases special. Two artists in the past that have fallen victim to this in recent memory have been Big K.R.I.T. and Currensy. Both of whom dropped major label debuts that failed to distinguish themselves quality wise from any of their “Street Albums”. While consistency can be great it begs the question is the money I’m paying for this actual CD or am I just rewarding the artist because of their entire body of work?

In the greater scheme of things great emcees or even halfway decent ones know that creating a great body of work and making timeless music is important. Other emcees rush the market to stay relevant and can sometimes inundate us with throwaway raps. When this bleeds over from their mixtapes into their proper releases (I’m looking at you Lil Wayne) it can severely damage an emcee’s creative reputation. Maybe in 2013 those artists with the proper work ethic are the ones who use these mixtapes to promote their touring efforts. After all albums were originally meant to promote performances not the other way around.


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    This question is too late coming. Clearly most rappers have no street smarts, the idea of giving free product away is to hook people and make them come back and buy from you. Now the mixtape market has been over saturated for years and you have a whole nation full of freeloaders who wont purchase your product cos their waiting for the next ‘free hit’. 50 Cent the only nga who suceeded with mixtapes. The cash cow that Hip Hop once was is running on a saggy, nearly empty titty (udder), ngas too dumb to clock so fruk em

    • Bifsquad3

      Naw Drake made it of mixtapes too. Not jus 50

      • MILFLUVA

        So that’s 2 people then. My point remains though too many broke rappers who devalued themselves with the giveaway s**t

      • Bifsquad3

        Kendrick, A$AP, Banks, Wale, French, Gucci nd Waka (even tho they’re irrelevent), The Weeknd, J. Cole, Nicki Minaj. Just to name a few

      • greenhouse records

        Pretty much every rapper thats made it now has made it off a mixtape. Its the new demo or underground album.

    • ImFred ImRico

      mixtapes still create hits. best i ever had by drake. rack city by tyga, spend it by 2chainz, all gold everything by trinidad, oh lets do it by flocka, don’t like by chief keef. these are just off the top of my head that jump-started careers. i know there’s way more. the weeknd went platinum by releasing the same damn tapes as an album. I must say that i somewhat agree w the things the writer was saying…

  • hoeyuno

    Yes. 90% of mixtapes are crap that ppl wouldn’t put on a album. why release half ass material?? I think it’s also part of the problem with album sales in rap these days…. most of the material on mixtapes are songs that shoulda been erased and never heard. good topic!!

    • “why release half ass material??”

      Because their album is 1/4 @$$!

      Still, do you actually “BUY” music or just download?

      Shows make the $$$.

      • hoeyuno

        I’ll still buy cd’s. I don’t know why. they just get uploaded then put in a pile to never be opened again… but if I want someone to keep making music ill support. especially my undergroundish MC’s. vinnie paz, immortal tech etc.. I don’t get out to many shows these days and the last one I did go to ended in a small riot and dude didn’t even come out…

      • You represent the exception to the rule.

        You buy for the artist…but not to listen too.

        Meaning if WEEZY or ? ( >> Insert your favorite fake rapper ) had a song you liked…would you buy it or download it for free?

        You have the option to bootleg, but chose not too….to support your artist.

        Pop / Club / Mindle$$ music….= no $$$.

        (*From our Demographic )

      • hoeyuno

        No no no. I listen like a mofo. but it gets uploaded to my computer and the actual cd never gets played again.. I don’t know if I got what your saying or not but if I liked say a rick ross song I’m not buying his album. I’ll dl that shit.if these mainstream dudes want to act like money ain’t a thing then why give them more money they don’t need. especially when money is a issue in my little existence.

      • Nah, you got my point exactly.

        *Buy & Upload the Immortal Tech & play from digital file….DL the MMG for free!

  • DeuceSkywalker

    What’s not being taken into account in this article is the actual hu$tle associated with the mixtape biz. If these artists have done their background business properly (mastering and registration) then there are checks coming from popular projects on sites such as livemixtapes. That’s a fact I can personally attest to. Now, has hiphop played itself with this mixtape biz? Absolutely. Does it saturate the marketplace and devalue the product? Without question. But let’s put it in its proper context with a multi-dimensional perspective.

    • hoeyuno

      I figured that. why would a rapper/label give some website the exclusive release rights if there wasn’t money involved..I think what really over saturates is the unofficial mixtapes that the mixtape sites put out themselves tho

  • Mob BanCster

    Music is Music. It’s an art-form. It doesn’t need to be sold all the time because some people just do it out of love.

    There’s a billion artists out here that drop mixtapes, which makes it harder for some talented individuals to get noticed but that can be a blessing in disguise because at least the industry won’t get a hold to some of these talented people and turn them into the next distracting phenomenon for the world to drool over.

    • greenhouse records

      not only that. but its a ton of music that actually for sale. People just not supporting Hip Hop financially. Artists just want there music heard so the give away for free hoping the right person hear it. Check out CD baby, Itunes, Bandcamp. Most times of the time artist will have the same mixtape/ album for sale on those sites and available for free download on datpiff.

  • dominicancoke

    Shit is free anyway u put it back in the mid 90s the only thing that came close to free was bootleg music aint disposable not even rap which saturated with rappers who cant rap..the difference between now & then is that wack is in style the less sense u make the more these stations dick ride u

    • Mob BanCster

      Who have you heard that doesn’t make sense? Because every time I hear the radio, niggaz make sense but they just use a lotta wordplay and say negative shit

      • dominicancoke

        Dude so many rappers who get radio spins make no sense..
        nicki minaj chief keef french montana two chains they get mad spins and their songs are about nothing other rappers make some sense in their songs

      • Mob BanCster

        LMAO!! I feel like I understand most of what they be sayin’ but it’s still stupid nonetheless. But I haven’t listened to the radio in a while so I hear way less of those people than the average person.

  • dominicancoke

    long live the lyricist knowledge reigns supreme..

    To hell is where im sending these lames they always calling me names..let me reframe that first line they only calling me strange.. silent like a deaf mute so they guess hes insane..i whip that guage out blow cartriges like a genesis game.. menace in pain i probably done the dirt that u rap about.. they get merked when i clap em out like max payne with 2 rachets out..u the herb that i laugh about u got teeth ima slap em out..this aint a ufc match why the f*ck are you tappin out?..i’ll have hot barrel kissing u from life i’ll be dismissing u..l have your family missing you can’t u tell i that i’m missing screws?..kidnnap your mens and them i’ll leave them f*ggots missing too..dramatic make u food for maggots voices that i listen to..inside my head i need a shrink but i refuse the facts..i meant i ignore them aint no rachet ima use a bat..shoot at me i’ll shoot ya back punch me get ya knuckles cracked..this all could be avoided if u tell me where that duffle at..

  • Mike Swiff


  • Synista

    people still use TAPES?????
    I personally hate mixes where the garbage ass Dj talks halfway through the best songs(dj holiday,gay slay …to name a few)

  • therealjjohnson

    Short answer No.

  • Frank

    Yes. Yo there’s so many put out that if you listened to them all i bet you could fill a 24 hr radio station.

    I download mad mixtapes. But only if I like the person hosting, featured, or just on a track. My problem is that I’m missing so many dope songs over the years. Like I hear em for a lil bit and then they get lost in the library and I may never listen for a min. And I let the music managers update the info over the years. So they might change shit and I don’t know. Stopped that shit a long time ago.

    I heard the best version of the Star Wars March Song put together with a beat and I can’t find it. Still there but I forget what it was called. I think some dudes from Atlantic City NJ. Shit was classic.

  • Slaughtr

    What they call mixtapes these days are not mixtapes,there fck’n put together demo tapes. what pisses me off is the fact that all this so called brand new shit is not new then you have massive mc’s biting niggaz beats and selling that shit=copyright infringement.
    What the fck happen to originality there seems to be none all this jargon about staying relevant,well do the proper hiphop and you stay relevant, write decent lyrics with subject matter you might stay relevant, be creative you might stay relevant, I remeber when it took cats two to three years to drop another album because the consumer at that time respected what the artist and studied the album like school work now music is like fast food. For me fck mixtapes it’s a waste of time and creative juice make some provocative shyt then let the world decide if they will take you or not.this rap shit is becoming too flooded with fck ass rhhmes and the same ol beats….and yea a nigga isn’t too happy with flop rap I said it and I’m out….mixtapes….rethink the marketing plan.

    • CTB_OnTimeDanny

      @Slaughtr….well written

    • greenhouse records

      I think you have the current era of mixtapes confused with the era of the mid 2000s. Most rappers today arent using industry beats to rap over anymore with the exception of sum artist who are already on (lil wayne rick ross). Most rapper are using original beats and to me are albums. they just are labeled mixtapes because the music is given away for free.

  • Tyree Dawson

    Imagine if The Chronic was just a mixtape…

    • greenhouse records

      It probably would be by todays standards. Mixtapes are better than albums.

  • p-dub

    mixtapes (street albums) = the album straight from the artist……retail album = the cd with involvement from a&r’s , radio people, corporate people that just want soft girly-love songs & dumb’d down shit…………………..I’d pay for a mixtape over an album

  • CTB_OnTimeDanny

    I was just having this conversation with my friends (independent artists) whether or not the mixtape era is making Hip-Hop music too dispensable… I feel that before the mixtape era; Music would be able to have a direct connection with time. For example: When Notorious BIG dropped Juicy or Tupac dropped Hit Em up, Nas- IIlmatic or Jay-Z Reasonable Doubt, Lost Boyz- Renee or Wu-Tang Triumph…. Everyone that lived that era and even those who didnt can make a specific and direct connection with what was going on at that point in their lives when they first heard the record and even more specifically what year a record was released. In comparison to modern day music where it seems that music from 6 months ago is labeled as old and outdated?! There seems to be a loss of desire to make timeless music in exchange for making more money faster nowadays … With so much music constantly being made and constantly changing, how can we label certain songs a CLASSIC anymore? Example: Rick Ross. Makes great music but a lot of his songs from the mixtapes of the past just dont circulate enough bc hes already made new music on top of new music on top of collabos with so many artists that to me personally has the end result of not creating a personal connection to a certain time in my life…what seems like something he did years ago was really less than a year ago…There are too many PROS and CONS to discuss for this one question for me to go into detail what they are. But i am going to end it on this note and this is directly to every aspiring artists out there..When you make music for the right reasons…the money, the fame and everything else will come following along. TAKE PRIDE that you are an individual and that you are an ARTIST…an artist that is always striving to make the best possible music within your personal potential! Timeless music lives forever, never dies and never stops making money!! Music for the moment will always be music of that moment and then forever forgotten!! Finally, I would like to thank J.Cole and Kendrick Lamar….two modern day examples of how to make timeless music!! I hope throughout their success that never changes! Be easy people Music=Power —->Power should NEVER be abused! Music can make or break the world we live in…(some food for thought)

  • No i think it is not right to say that Mixtapes making hip hop music disposal. Even Mixtapes looks good to listen. Many peoples are fan of mixtapes and i also love to listen mixtapes.