Top 8 of 08: Mixtape Interlude

January 6th, 2009 by | Tags: , ,

I listen to a lot of mixtapes. They’re a great source of free tunes, they let your favorite artists wreck other artist’s beats, and really, they let you hear hungry people before they get fat and tired. Mixtapes are worth it because a lot of artists will break down some kind of clever gimmick in order to get attention. I don’t use gimmick in the derogatory sense, mind you– just in that it’s an attention getter. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but here’s my five favorite mixtapes of 08, with a bit of commentary.

Did I mention that mixtapes are free? Download links after each mini-review.

Super props to 2dopeboyz for a) hooking me up with these mixtapes and most of my new music and b) having the best website name on the net.

Honorable Mention: BK Cyph x 2dopeboyz – Never Sold Crack: The Series
BK Cyph is a dope lyricist, and his Never Sold Crack: The Series is like Ghostface’s Run– straight up storytelling rap. It’s begging to be animated or put into comic form or something. You can catch it here on 2db. Download them starting with #8 and listen to them in order.

#5: XV – 40 Days, 40 Nights
Sometimes, you just have to respect someone’s work ethic. Crooked I and Mickey Factz did weekly series for a good long while. XV broke out with something even more serious– 40 days and 40 nights of music. That’s two songs a day, if you aren’t good at math.

And he did it. He freaked new beats, old beats, and pretty much every hot song you could find. NERD’s Spaz turned into Frag Out, an Xbox Live anthem. Mos Def’s Mr. Nigga got a remake for 2008, Andre 3k’s She Lives In My Lap showed up, and Kanye’s Love Lockdown caught a remix. The line that really made me stand up and pay attention was this bit on Mr. Nigga:

Now, who is the cat that’s relaxing in the sauna
and somebody asks, “So, what you think about Obama?

I dunno, maybe you have to live in San Francisco to get it.

There’s something here for everyone, from comic fans (Day 32 featured “Galactus (The Planet Eater)” and “Silver Surfer”) to game fans (“Frag Out”), classic rap fans, and even fans of The Killers. When Blogs Cry is the most bizarre Prince remake I’ve heard in ages, too.

The original files can be found here on 2db, where I first got them. However, I re-uploaded them because I ended up re-tagging all of the mp3s. I added them all into the same album, as opposed to being separated into 40 Days and 40 Nights, and renamed them so that they’re in the format “(Day 26-N) Go In (produced by Just Blaze)”– it makes sense when you look at it, and they’re all in order, too. Grab that from right here.

#4: The Clipse – Road to Till The Casket Drops

Yo, I wish the Clipse would stop misspelling things. Play Cloths and Road Till the Casket Drops have them looking bummy.

Anyway, The Clipse have basically been mixtape kings for a few years now. Their We Got It 4 Cheap series have been mostly great, even though the retail release was like biting into a hot buttered brick. Road to… is their latest mixtape, and it’s largely a Clipse solo joint. They get on over Swagger Like Us, Pop Champagne, Addiction, and a couple other hot joints from this year.

It’s a testament to their skill at doing their kind of rap that even though the subject matter isn’t all that different from WGI4C or Hell Hath No Fury or Lord Willin’, the songs stay interesting. I feel like So Fly (Now We’ve Had Her) is the weakest track on the album, but the rest are pretty tight.

They even get on Lupe Fiasco’s Dumb It Down, which is practically the anti-drug rap theme song, and turn it to Numb It Down, which is about (you guessed it) selling dope. It’s the kind of move that’s so bizarre it works. It’s as if someone went and turned Burn, Hollywood, Burn into the theme song for next year’s summer blockbuster, and it worked. It’s weird. The contrast is kind of nuts.

Complex magazine has the download for you.

#3: Esso x 2dopeboyz – The Gardens

I discovered ESSO earlier this year, and he’s remained a favorite. I’ve burned through his mixtapes, and he’s put out a staggering amount of music in the past couple of years. It’s good for my brain, bad for my HD space. His three full-length mixtapes, ESSOcentric, ESSObama, and E3: E-Day (make sure you watch Anti-backpack) are all bangers. E3 came close to taking #3 on this list, even.

But, no, instead, it’s gotta be The Gardens.

I listened to Lil Wayne’s Carter III when it came out like everybody else. I was kind of amazed that codeine had turned Wayne into such a dope rapper, but the album didn’t really click for me. I blamed the rhymes– Wayne was clever, but mostly style. The beats were hot enough that I’d been keeping my eye out for an instrumental version.

The Gardens is Esso rhyming about his life, love, and living over six of Weezy’s Carter beats, including the Kanye produced “Let The Beat Build” as “Get Ya Beat Killed.” Maybe it should have been called “That’s how you get your album killed,” because I haven’t gone back to Tha Carter III since. The Gardens is a thorough little… EP, I guess, going by the length. The rhymes are tight, the beats are hard, and it’s just fun to listen to. It sounds like the kind of album that’s both carefully chosen and sounds like it was done for fun. Hit up 2db for the hookup.

#2: B.o.B. – Who the Fuck is B.o.B.

I’d seen B.o.B. around, but it was this mixtape that sold me. The only way I know how to describe him, and I hate to do him a disservice by comparing him to other artists, is that he’s kind of like what someone who was Andre 3000 and Big Boi from OutKast at the same time. He flips back and forth between painfully honest raps (“I used to wear a grill, because that was the trend/ not because I liked it, I just wanted to fit in” on Generation Lost) and that down south bump I still love.

Other than a guest Lil Boosie on an otherwise hot song, this album is pretty much one banger after another. Bobby Ray sat down and made one of the best albums of the year, proving that he’s one of the best dudes to debut lately.

He’s charming, not afraid to poke fun at himself, and has sick flow. Just from a flow perspective, he’s worth listening to. He even takes a stab at racism on track 17, Nigger. It’s as tongue-in-cheek and pointed as Auto Tune, his ode to the gimmick of 2008.

Download it here, courtesy of The Smoking Section.

#1: Wale – The Mixtape About Nothing

Did you meet anybody who didn’t like this mixtape? I probably don’t even have to recommend it to you. I bet you already have it, don’t you?

For those new to the party, just go ahead and download it. It’s Wale creating an album in the form of an homage to Seinfeld. Rather than just being an album to hang Seinfeld references on, he uses the gimmick to hammer on a bunch of different topics.

Honestly, just google him. Download the mixtape and google him and then come back and thank me.

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4 comments to “Top 8 of 08: Mixtape Interlude”

  1. No love for Kid Cudi? Maaaaannnnnnn. ._.

  2. He’s one I kept meaning to find, but kept missing. I’ll have to look for him and download it.

  3. i love Lil Wayne!

  4. […] That’s the cover art for Wale’s new single Pretty Girls, featuring art by Julian. Wale’s a dope dude, and his Mixtape About Nothing was easily worthy of five mics. […]