The Life & Grind of ESSO Entry 5

“If Hip-Hop should die before I’m great

I’ma do more than just murder a mixtape” -Chamillionaire (Hip-Hop Murder from Mixtape Messiah II)

Whatup everybody? 2007 is already lookin like an interesting year…and a whole lot of signs are starting to pop up to let me know that we just might be near the beginning of the end. First it was 73 degrees in New York City on a Saturday in January, and then just this week DJ Drama and DJ Don Cannon of the Aphilliates were raided in Atlanta by the RIAA and the Feds. RIP Mixtapes as we know them or knew them until this happened.

I don’t even really know where to start talking about this, but first let me say that the way that the mainstream media handled this situation is fu**ed up to say the least. I watched the report that aired on FOX in Atlanta, and some of the sh*t that I heard them talking about was not only extremely disrespectful to Drama and what he’s done for the mixtape culture, but it was also completely irrelevant. To present DJ Drama as a bootlegger is one of the farthest things from the truth.

Gangsta Grillz the series has almost completely changed the way people look at mixtapes. Think about it like this…when’s the last time you saw him put out a traditional mixtape with tracks from different artists and the “exclusive” compilations that the internet has basically made obsolete. I can’t remember the last one. Then for the f**kin ATF to get on and say “well we didn’t find any weapons or guns during this raid, but its not uncommon to find that sort of contraband in these situations…” If you didn’t find it, why open your mouth about it? These men were obviously operating a legitimate business which has been partially funded by labels promotional budgets…let’s get real here. It’s like the government putting coke in your hands, then sending the FBI when you turn it to crack.

But this whole thing is much bigger than Drama, Cannon and this one raid. Canal St. in NY is dead quiet as I’m writing this. pulled all the mixtapes off of their site and is restructuring. The mixtape game is goin under a serious re-evaluation of itself, and trying to figure out how to recover. Mixtapes have always been an integral piece of the culture from Brucie B recording his sets at The Rooftop and sellin em for 100 a pop to DJ Clue getting the most exclusive records months early to bring u that new sh*t first to Drama helping move the south movement, breaking Young Jeezy and dropping 2 classic tapes with Lil Wayne. Mixtapes are so big right now that Drama even pops up on Soundscan 3x for the week ending January 14th 2007 as high as #82 on the Top 200 R&B Albums chart with Dedication 2. Maybe that was the reason the RIAA officers in ATF Jackets and the SWAT Team was called in to knock down the doors and confiscate over 80,000 CDs, cars, studio equipment and bank statements.

Whatever happens from here on out is going to have a huge impact on the next couple of steps that I take to create a career for myself. My first mixtape was an extremely important step in my career, so much so that it took months to make, and brought attention from some of the most well-respected outlets in HipHop such as The Source, SCRATCH Magazine, MTV and the site that you’re reading this journal on right now. Who’s to say how long it would have taken to make each one of those individual moves without a single piece of work to display to listeners exactly what I’m capable of as an artist. I don’t even want to venture a guess, but hopfully the impact of this controversy isn’t such that it shuts down mixtapes from reaching the masses.

Where’s it gonna go from here? Independent Mixtape albums with barcodes? No change? No more mixtapes? As long as people want to hear their favorite artists spittin that raw, mixtapes will never die in some shape or form…but they’re either gonna be completely legitimate works with licenses granted and all that, or they’re gonna be completely underground and distribution of tapes is never gonna be the same. Part of the beauty of making a mixtape, which I experienced first hand when I made my debut CD is that you can do pretty much whatever your imagination dictates. There’s no “commercially acceptable” master that needs to be turned in, so creatively there’s no limit to what you can do inside of those 80 minutes…no having to worry about sample clearances, no real budget concerns other than recording, and promotion which can all be minimized if you’re smart enough. And you’re giving the music directly to the people. Whatever the case may be, its an interesting time to be a fan of HipHop. Nas is sayin HipHop is dead, KRS-One is doin tribute records to Nas and dropping a new album in 2007, the mixtape game is bein watched by the Feds, album sales are declining every year, and we’re only in January. It’s an even more interesting time for me to be looking at it from in between where the fans and the players are.

Go to my website and I’ll leave you with my first mixtape ESSOcentric Volume One…FOR PROMOTIONAL USE ONLY. Who knows if I’ll even be able to put out the sequel the way things are going