Does anybody remember mixtapes? No, I mean real mixtapes. I'm not talking about a bunch of songs thrown together that lack the quality to be called an album. Nor am I referring to a thematic compilation album, or a free collection of songs. I'm talking about mixtapes.
My bad, I forgot. Some of y'all haven't been around long enough to have experienced the glory of an actual mixtape. Yes, this a bit of a back-packer-Pharisee-hip-hop-purist rant, but I'll keep it brief (I have an album to write).
Back in my day, a mixtape was on TAPE (imagine that) and the songs were MIXed together. I know, it's crazy right?! Rappers didn't make mixtapes, deejays did. Rappers didn't use turntables and were therefore incapable of creating a mixtape. It evolved from blended songs that were already out, to adding remixes with exclusive freestyles and verses over classic beats and world premiere tracks. One of the last notable mix CDs was all original songs, but they were blended together by a DJ and included a platform for his turntablism.
Now-a-days, the DJ's been completely removed from the equation, the songs aren't blended together, and they are not on tape. It not being on tape doesn't bother me as much as the missing DJ, but should be noted too. I feel like you should call it what it is (which is why I used the term "mix CD" earlier).
I won't get into what's at fault and reveal all my thoughts about this tragedy that has become the norm for today's culture unless the response warrants a part two to this. I intend to make more creative use of these thoughts (I'm writing an album). But for now, until then, this is all I have to say:
If it is not on tape, if the songs aren't mixed together, if the DJ's name is not on the cover (mainly because there isn't one), you can call it dope (a lot of them are), you can call it hot, you can call it a free download (most of them are), you can call it a lot of things. But DON'T CALL IT A MIXTAPE!
Follow Stephen the Levite on Twitter at @dawhiStLeblower