This year saw the continuing evolution of the mixtape from simple album-promo to legitimate work of art. In fact, the following mixtapes are better than a majority of artists’ studio albums. They are too hard to rank, so without further ado… in no particular order. I’ve also included a 3-song sample of my favorite tracks from each:
Wiz had a very good year rising to become one of the hottest artists of 2010. Along the way, he signed a major deal with Atlantic Records. This mixtape is by far his best cumulative effort of the year.
Wiz Khalifa – Kush & Orange Juice mixtape
Wiz Khalifa – Never Been mp3
Wiz Khalifa – The Kid Frankie mp3
Wiz Khalifa – Mezmorized mp3
The youngest member of Kayne’s G.O.O.D. Music, Big Sean’s creativity and style are encompassed in this mixtape. Hopefully 2011 will finally bring Finally Famous: The Album.
Big Sean – Finally Famous: Volume 3 mixtape
Big Sean – Meant To Be mp3
Big Sean – Hometown mp3
Big Sean – High Rise mp3
Another artist that signed a major deal in 2010 (Warner Bros. Records), and another mixtape with the quality of an album. XV’s The Kid With The Green Backpack should be one of the best albums of 2011. Still don’t understand how XXL forgot about Vizzy last year.
XV – Vizzy Zone mixtape
XV – Gettin‘ Bizzy mp3
XV feat. Talib Kweli – Reset Button mp3
XV feat. Chiddy Bang – She Go, I Go mp3
Representing the best coast, this mixtape was probably overlook by many in the Eastern Time Zone. Dispite the time different, don’t sleep on Pacific Division!
Pac Div – Don’t Mention It mixtape
Pac Div – It’s On mp3
Pac Div feat. Dom Kennedy, cARTer & Chip Tha Ripper – Don’t Forget the Swishers mp3
Pac Div feat. Pill – Birds mp3
The newest mixtape to make the list, B.o.B’s May 25th mixtape could probably be included alongside No Genre as well. B.o.B is one of those artists who arguably puts out better mixtapes than studio albums.
B.o.B – No Genre mixtape
B.o.B feat. Donnis – Batman Flow mp3
B.o.B – Shoot Up The Station mp3
B.o.B – How U Do That mp3
Charles Hamilton is either a genius or suffering from serious mental/behavior issues. Either way, dude knows how to make a mixtape. This is Charles’ best effort from his countless releases in 2010.
Charles Hamilton – 10 Things I Hate About Me mixtape
Charles Hamilton – I Am Always Up To Something (Do That) mp3
Charles Hamilton – I’m Moody (Rox) mp3
Charles Hamilton – I Am More Concerned With Love (Mult-Player Love) mp3
Chris Brown’s In My Zone and In My Zone 2 as well as Tyga’s Well Done mixtape are noteworthy, but what pushes this tape over-the-top is its introduction of Kevin McCall to a larger audience. How long until Chris Brown officially signs with Young Money?
Chris Brown & Tyga – Fan Of A Fan mixtape
Chris Brown & Tyga – What They Want mp3
Chris Brown & Tyga feat. Kevin McCall – Have It mp3
Chris Brown & Tyga feat. Kevin McCall – Ballin’ mp3
Even though it’s only a “mini-mixtape”, Chiddy Bang had to make the list. Check out 2009’s The Swelly Express now if you haven’t done so already.
Chiddy Bang – Air Swell mixtape
Chiddy Bang – Stylo (remix) mp3
Chiddy Bang – Pass Out (freestyle) mp3
Chiddy Bang – Hey London mp3
Drawing inspiration from his Mixtape About Nothing released in 2008, Wale’s newest tape includes many tracks that could’ve even been included in his studio album, Attention: Deficit.
Wale – More About Nothing mixtape
Wale feat. Wiz Khalifa & Tre – The Breeze (Cool) mp3
Wale feat. Fat Trel & Black Cobain – The Posse Cut (Who Don’t) mp3
Wale – The Flight mp3
J. Cole’s third official mixtape release might just be his best yet – and the others are pretty good. Like many of the artists above, J. Cole’s upcoming studio album, Cole World, is one of the most anticipated releases of 2011.
J. Cole – Friday Night Lights mixtape
J. Cole feat. Drake – In The Morning mp3
J. Cole – Blow Up mp3
J. Cole – Back To The Topic mp3
Curren$y – Smokee Robinson mixtape
CyHi Da Prynce – Royal Flush mixtape
Fabolous – There Is No Competition 2 (The Funeral Service) mixtape
Enliten Elite Affiliate Tapes
DyMe-A-DuZiN – The Orientation mixtape
Elbee Thrie – I am A PiG mixtape
MoeBrad – Graduation Kush mixtape