By Martin Solano | Staff Writer |
In 2012, Kendrick Lamar took the title of hip-hop’s album of the year with good kid, m.A.A.d. city, while Meek Mill’s mixtape, Dreamchasers 2 was considered “#1 mix tape of 2012” by datpiff.com, a site referred to as “the authority in mixtapes” according to albumoftheyear.org,
Although it is safe to say these two rappers made noise in the hip-hop world this past year, Meek Mill’s mixtape effort can’t be placed in the same category as Kendrick’s album.
Or can it? Aren’t they two completely different things?
Mixtapes are released by the artist independently and albums are released through major record labels.
Often times, hip-hop heads and music fans alike argue the idea of whether a mixtape release has the same caliber as an album release.
Rappers work on albums, run them by their major distribution labels for approval and then get released.
As a rapper, you’re putting out an album that has to be approved by more than just your crew or the camp you are working with.
The concept of the album has to be thought through and has to make sense in the eyes of the label executives for it to be approved and released.
When making a mixtape, however, the quality is up to the rapper. Kendrick can make a mixtape full or recycled beats, rap a bunch of nonsense over 10 tracks, give it a name, upload it to datpiff and BAM, you have a mixtape. It’s 2013. Anyone can do that.
However, it doesn’t mean Kendrick will, nor any rapper who takes their work seriously.
In hip-hop, mixtapes are looked at as a stepping stone into the rap game.
Rappers pay their dues, show their skill through their mixtapes and use them to earn respect to launch their careers in the industry.
Sometimes artists produce such quality products with their mixtapes, distribution labels re-release the exact tape as an album backed by major label marketing and promotion, which is typically what a mixtape lacks.
R&B artist, The Weeknd, released his Trilogy album through Republic Records on November 9, 2012, which was the exact replica of his 3 mixtapes.
If the mixtape is weak, it will go unnoticed and major labels won’t bother looking at the artist.
Even Kendrick paid his dues and earned the respect of the hip-hop community with mixtape releases prior to his album debut.
In 2010, his O.verly D.edicated mixtape earned the “Top Mixtapes of 2010” award and is currently at over 1 million hits on Datpiff.com.
At the conclusion of 2012, according to Nielsen Soundscan, Kendrick’s album, “good kid, m.A.A.d city” had recorded over 500,000 units in album sales.
Hip-hop artists who make quality mixtapes earn their right to produce quality albums with major labels and historically speaking, do so.
Currently, hip-hop newcomer, A$AP Rocky has the spotlight. His debut album Long.Live.A$AP, released on Jan. 15, following the great success of his 2011 mixtape which carried the same title. Will A$AP live up to the hip-hop statistics?
Students around campus are already calling it “hip-hop’s album of the year.” Good music can come in any form, whether that’s a mixtape or an album. Quality is quality, no matter how it’s served.