The mixtape was originally a collection of random songs in 8 track form dating back to the late 60s. It later evolved to appear in cassette form in the 80s as people worldwide would load up their favorite tracks at the time into their own personal mixes. Later, mixtapes evolved futher as they mainly consisted of RnB mixes, created by prepubescent boys to impress their girl crushes.
Fast forward to modern times and conventional mixtapes are a thing of the past and solely a fixture in hip hop. Artists started to package throwaway songs that did not make the official tracklist for their studio albums as a free offering to their fans.
However, the internet has catalyzed the evolution of the mixtape even more; as the quality of mixtapes are increasing at an exponential rate. Since artists have such an easy medium to spread their music, it only makes sense to get as much of their work to the public in the form of free mixtapes.
Today, it is commonplace for certain artists’ to release mixtapes that make other artists’ studio albums pale in comparison. It is also commonplace for artists to release a seemingly impossible amount of mixtapes every year.
With so many mixtapes being released by so many rappers year-by-year, I have compiled a list of top 5 mixtape rappers. Both quality and quantity of mixtapes were considered in the rankings.
5. Action Bronson
Action Bronson burst onto the scene in early 2011 with two mixtape releases called: Bon Appetit … Bitch and The Program EP. He really started to pick up steam later in the year with his project called Dr. Lecter. Since then, Bronsolino has not let off one bit by releasing a very large collection of material full of his raps about delicious culinary references as well as incredulous action-packed sequences.
|His most notable mixtape releases are his Blue Chips 1 and 2 projects, produced entirely by producer-extraordinaire: Party Supplies. In addition, his tape produced by The Alchemist called Rare Chandeliers is also nothing to scoff at.
Bronson is quickly reaching the upper echelon of the rap game and all without a studio album. He was saavy in how he created buzz for himself by releasing a large amount of high quality music in a short period of time. Once you couple that with his eccentric personality and genuinely hilarious sense of humor; Bronson is ready to make the next jump in his career.
Now that he has signed to Atlantic records, be sure to look out for his first major studio album release in the near future…while we all seemingly ignore how much he sounds like Ghostface Killah.
4. Wiz Khalifa
These days, Wiz Khalifa is known for his undeniable, deep-rooted love for all things green. If it is not about getting paper or getting him high, Wiz is likely nowhere to be found. He is also recognized for his wacky image and notable relationship with Amber Rose.
|However, Wiz has been spitting for quite some time and has utilized the mixtape rapper model to his advantage. Since 2005, Khalifa has released 12 different mixtapes to his fans for free. He started off as a skinny kid from Pittsburgh who loved to rap fast and had an ear for beats.
After his somewhat breakthrough hit, “Say Yeah” caught fire in 2008, Wiz never slowed down. With some very notable projects like: Kush & Orange Juice, Cabin Fever, Taylor Allderdice and How Fly, Wiz developed a huge fan base.
One of Wiz Khalifa’s most notable traits is the undeniable difference in style between his studio albums and his mixtapes and as a result, there are many polarizing opinions on Wiz. Many rap fans berate his studio albums, stating that they are obvious offerings to radio rap and to net a high profit but even the most critical of fans find that it is hard to ignore the quality of the mixtapes he has released in the past.
It is also worth noting that this trend may have come to an abrupt end as Wiz Khalifa has introduced the world to #TrapWiz with his latest mixtape release: 28 grams. The mixtape features 28 short tracks bursting to the seams with autotuned vocals and trap inspired beats. Although there is a solid fan base supporting the release, a lot of the Kush & Orange Juice fans are left furrowing their brows.
3. Lil B
Lil B’s swag tapes are over swag thousand. His style is swag, his beats are swag, his rhymes are swag and his swag is swag. As long as you stay based and let that boy cook, you will never be disappointed.
When Lil B, the based god, is not swagging your girl or mentoring the kids, he is in the studio cooking up some swag tapes. So many swag tapes you could not even imagine.
Whether you like him or want him to die, there are three things that are absolutely undeniable about Lil B:
1. His swag
2. He has released a godly amount of mixtapes in his career
3. He is the greatest troll of all time. As long as he is able to generate the incredible amount of hate (and attention) for himself, similarly to the amount of hate directed at the above section in this article, he will remain in the spotlight.
In swagclusion: #TYBG #STAYBASED #SWAG.
2. Big K.R.I.T
|Big K.R.I.T is a rapper from Mississippi who has become the south’s golden child over the past couple of years. He has not released an extremely high amount of mixtapes in his career, but the quality of his mixtapes is unmatched. The King Remembered in Time has pushed the boundaries of what a mixtape can actually be and have blurred the lines between what a mixtape can sound like compared to a studio album.
K.R.I.T released 5 mixtapes from 2005-2009 but he really started to get attention with his 2010 release: K.R.I.T Wuz Here. Since then he put out three more critically acclaimed tapes called: Return of 4eva, 4eva N a Day and King Remembered in Time. Not only does he offer some thoughtful verses of the utmost quality, but he also produces almost all of his music. The production on his tapes is extremely fine tuned and seems to encompass all of what make southern hip hop great.
In 2012, Big K.R.I.T premiered his first studio album called: Live from the Underground and he is scheduled to release the follow-up LP this year called: Cadillactica.
1. Lil Wayne
Despite Lil Wayne’s fall from grace, he is still the mixtape king. When you think of mixtapes, it is really hard not to think of Weezy in association. He worked his way up to arguably be the “greatest rapper alive” during a short period of time thanks to the sheer amount of music he was putting out in mixtape and album form. He revolutionized the traditional model of how rappers can break out into the mainstream by bombarding fans with an endless amount of material.
Lil Wayne released 19 mixtapes since 2002. These include his Da Drought series as well as his Dedication series, which is (sadly) still going steady today.
You may not be a fan of Lil Wayne or anything he has ever done but you have to recognize that he has contributed quite a lot to rap as a whole. In addition, he may very well be the greatest mixtape artist of all time.