Tag Archives: The Month in Mixtapes

The Month in Mixtapes: March 2017

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Given the massive number of hip-hop mixtapes released on Bandcamp, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Each month, Marvin Lin will help ease you into this bounty of music by spotlighting releases by rappers and beatmakers using the Bandcamp “mixtape” tag. 

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The Month in Mixtapes: February 2017

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Given the massive number of hip-hop mixtapes released on Bandcamp, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Each month, Marvin Lin will help ease you into this bounty of music by spotlighting releases by rappers and beatmakers using the Bandcamp “mixtape” tag.

MDuke,  400 (The Mixtape)

There are plenty of trap mixtapes to choose from, but as higher-profile tapes are often used as a dumping ground for studio leftovers and producer experimentation, it’s refreshing to hear such a refined release like 400 (The Mixtape). On this economical eight-track release, San Antonio’s MDuke has curated a cohesive batch of songs that showcase his versatility as a rapper (and sometimes singer). Against heavy production, Duke maintains a potent thrust throughout, with a voice relocating Future’s dexterity and Travis $cott’s melodicism to Texas. The self-proclaimed New Wave Activist reaches his apex on “WYD (outro),” a breezy cut that sees him truly coming into his own, adding bite to an already ferocious attack and flipping registers like he doesn’t have anything to prove.

Vacationer’s Atlas, Peregrinations

On Peregrinations, producer Vacationer’s Atlas goes back in time. Greek literature, Ancient Central Asia nomads, and Harry Potter are referenced in his song titles, with a cover that nods to Frank Hurley (a life-risking, 20th-century Australian photographer dubbed “the mad photographer”) and a sendoff that gestures toward Japanese novelist Murasaki Shikibu and vaporwave appropriation techniques. In the end, the actual sound of the music—suffocated Dean Blunt-like beats awash in hiss and extraterrestrial sounds—isn’t quite as complex as the references might suggest, but it’s still quite compelling.

SARN, POSTMODERN TRASH

Deathbomb Arc’s Mixtape Series continues with its fifth entry, POSTMODERN TRASH, by Bay Area artist SARN. It’s a quick listen, but not an easy one: SARN’s wildly idiosyncratic voice—a high-pitched, oftentimes falsetto warble—hovers ghost-like over its brilliant pop experiments, challenging listeners through fearless lyrics and bold genre mashups. For an album driven by traditionally rock and pop-oriented instrumentation (drums, synths, piano)—with help from John Vanderslice, no less—it’d be easy to overlook SARN’s integration of hip-hop elements. Check out songs like “No Shade” and “Too Much Art” for the clearest examples, but reducing the album’s aesthetics to a mishmash of categories would only undermine the project. These track were “created out of necessity” but shared with as much heart as I presume was put into it. And, to top it all off, 50 percent of the proceeds, from now until March 5, will be donated to Planned Parenthood and the ACLU.

Bridini, Late Winter

The prolific Per Diem Productions label has dropped yet another Bridini beat tape, arriving as disjointed and as deteriorated as you might expect. On this release, titled Late Winter, NY-based producer Bridini mangles his beats and samples with generous amounts of distortion, compression, echo, and other beat-making effects, with interlude-like passages favoring even noise over rhythm. The tape, dubbed “Generational Lo-Fi,” is reminiscent of the early work of Not Not Fun artist KWJAZ or the Heat Wave project of Alex Gray (D/P/I), in which the squiggly, abstracted in-between-ness becomes the focus itself, transitory moments overriding any sort of momentum or purposeful through line.

Taboo, BIG THINGS HAVE small BEGINNINGS pt 2: Family Tree

Family Tree is the second and final installment in Taboo’s BIG THINGS HAVE small BEGINNINGS project, and it’s certainly named appropriately. Here, the rapper assembles a large cast of characters—Nico the Beast, Tones, Coal Cash, Think 2wice, Neenah, and many, many more—to help him craft a 19-track project that starts with a hat tip to The Fugees and continues with vibrant, energetic beats that would make El-P downright giddy. It’s a family affair through and through, but the whole shebang is led by Taboo’s remarkable ambition and marked by a distinct New York feel, with equal parts ’90s boom bap, Cold Vein grittiness, and Pro Era solidarity.

Joint Ventures, What’s Gotten into Willis?

Following The Elusive George Carlo from November 2016, the Joint Ventures crew returns with 25 more lo-fi beat workouts. Though, “workouts” might be too generous a term for the woozy and intoxicated cuts on What’s Gotten into Willis?. Stumbling from moment to moment with hazy, smoked-out charm, the crew of Devil’s Elbow, Sonofone, Indiana Stones, and Mrs. Baker bring a couple new producers—FreakQ and Treeo—into the fold, both of whom expand upon the group’s already delicious sound and widen the Adelaide, Australian group’s reach to include Sicily, Italy. Standout tracks abound, but Devil’s Elbow’s “Isolation” hits hard, with deconstructed beats and harmonic trickery that seem set on destroying themselves.

The Blue Print Series, Vol. 7: #Hashtag

Already seven full-lengths in since August 2016, host Jersey Moulin has admirably kept her promise to highlight the lesser-knowns in her Blueprint mixtape series. The latest in the collection is titled #HASHTAG, and rather than corralling several voices together under a themed tape, she brought in just one: Voiice. Across 12 sultry tracks, Voiice flexes her mannerist vocal stylings with elongated exhalations and a slightly-behind flow that feels like she’s trying to pull the tracks into a slower, more sensual rhythmic orbit. But while Voiice does indeed seem most comfortable when producer BrvndonP offers space to sprawl out (#YouKnow,” “#Pony”), she kills it nonetheless on faster cuts like “#HolUp” and “#ThirstTrap.”

Marvin Lin 

The Month in Mixtapes: January 2017

Month In Mixtapes

Given the massive number of hip-hop mixtapes released on Bandcamp, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Each month, Marvin Lin will help ease you into this bounty of music by spotlighting releases by rappers and beatmakers using the Bandcamp “mixtape” tag.

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The Month in Mixtapes: November 2016

Music is love in search of a word.

Given the massive number of hip-hop mixtapes released on Bandcamp, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Each month, Marvin Lin will help ease you into this bounty of music by spotlighting releases by rappers and beatmakers using the Bandcamp “mixtape” tag.

EIZO, H I D D E N & L A N H A M W O R L D

There’s “Experimental Rap,” and then there’s experimental rap. Deep in the Bandcamp underground, there’s plenty of the latter, and this month’s weirdest comes from Maryland resident EIZO. Two releases were dropped just a few days apart, and they both explore the limits of what qualifies as a hip-hop release by incorporating a compelling mix of rap, noise, and psychedelia, with half-mumbled rhymes and disconnected sense-making splayed over clattering loops and washes of eccojam ephemera. The result is challenging, sure, but don’t worry: there’s nothing to “get” here, only something to feel. And it’s probably unlike anything you’ve felt as of late.

SG Prider, Sài Gòn Tín Ngưỡng

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. It’s not the first city you’d think of for quality trap music, but SG Prider’s latest mixtape, Sài Gòn Tín Ngưỡng, has now put the city firmly on our radar. Produced by Ton Nguyễn, Nguyen Hong Giang, and DK Love, the nine-track release mostly finds the group spitting with a sense of urgency over dark beats and oppressive strings. But it’s not all doom and gloom, as a few of the tracks unexpectedly flirt with various pop sensibilities. Results vary (“October,” for example), but the tape’s standout track, “Cảnh Giới Khác,” is one such flirtation that exceeds all expectations, pointing to a possible future direction for SG Prider.

Joint Ventures, The Elusive George Carlo

With The Elusive George Carlo, we find ourselves in Adelaide, Australia, and it feels like a good place to dwell. Joint Venture is an aptly named collaboration between producers Mrs. Baker, Sonofone, Indiana Stones, and Devils Elbow, and together, they’ve made some deliciously woozy, blunted beats that can barely hold it together, as if they might crumble at any moment. Which is a good thing: these are fragile beats, sewn together with a delicate, experimental touch. The highlights are many, but be sure to check out Indiana Stones’s “About George” — it’s downright gorgeous.

SCUMBOYS, I AINT NVR GAVE A FUCK ABOUT NOTHIN

After dropping the EVIL comp and a tape from Ed Balloon, Deathbomb Arc’s new mixtape series continues on strong. This month saw the release of I AINT NVR GAVE A FUCK ABOUT NOTHIN from trenchcore rap duo SCUMBOYS. And it’s scum—across six aggressive, geeked-up tracks, L.A. rappers WRONGBOY and MUTE shatter expectations with fistfuls of dissonance, warped electronics, and shouting matches. However, these disjointed, demented moments of concentrated energy are tempered by the occasionally expansive production that allows SCUMBOYS to sprawl out a bit, trading in the bats and bombs for beer and bongs.

JoeyDGAF, DONT, An unfinished creative work

Joey says he doesn’t GAF (give a fuck), but his short, sweet mixtape says otherwise. In contrast to the moody framework that encompasses trap and its many permutations, JoeyDGAF’s tape is a lighthearted affair, all breezy melodies, boom-bap-influenced beats, and a polished delivery that leaves no doubt about Joey’s technical skill. The tape’s jazz inflections and optimistic overtones mix wondrously despite its anachronistic feel, with no haze, no obfuscation, no bullshit: this is clear-headed, to-the-point stuff. In an alternate world, “Colors Fading” would be a hit single on the radio, and Coeur D’Alene—Joey’s hometown—would be an exotic locale, not just a town in Idaho.

Novaj Aes, ichi

While some hip-hop releases are designed to confront us with the ugly realities of contemporary culture and politics, others want to take us away from it all. Beat tapes often function as the latter, and Novaj Aes’s ichi mixtape is no exception. The Kansas City-based producer offers instrumentals that are simple yet transportive, their chill demeanor and trance-inducing soundworlds evoking interstellar dust clouds and wisps of orbiting rock. (There’s a reason ichi‘s artwork is of a nebula.) Sure, the beats might make your head nod, but its presence feels more like a slow-motion burst of sound.

SOFAS, AND1 Mixtape

Bringing the original spirit of mixtape culture back, the SOFAS collective invades instrumentals from the likes of Memphis Bleek, Juvenile, and Three 6 Mafia, and then drops their own rhymes over them. But it’s not just a showcase for these “two bums from the suburban slums,” a.k.a. Kayo Kunde and Tomato Jonez The Fly Guinea. Rather than simply hitting play and rapping with abandon, SOFAS first drag these instrumentals down several pitches in the spirit of one DJ Screw, inviting dirt and grime to the party in the best possible way.

Marvin Lin 

The Month in Mixtapes: October 2016

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Original image from Kirsty Andrews.

Given the massive number of hip-hop mixtapes released on Bandcamp, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Each month, Marvin Lin will help ease you into this bounty of music by spotlighting releases by rappers and beatmakers using the Bandcamp “mixtape” tag.

[cdp], galena

No beat in [cdp]’s world comes easy. With galena, the Late Nite Collective leader doubles down on difficulty, wobbling, bending and squiggling his way in lateral, hyper-gestural movements through a swift five tracks, all of them clocking in at under two minutes. On this tape, the beats don’t really “land.” Instead, they smear across the pavement, opening new dimensions through rubber-band melodies that refuse to stay put. It’s weird, restrained, and wonderful.

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The Month in Mixtapes: September 2016

September Rap Mixtape Covers
Given the massive number of hip-hop mixtapes released on Bandcamp, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Each month, Marvin Lin will help ease you into this bounty of music by spotlighting releases by rappers and beatmakers using the Bandcamp “mixtape” tag.

wllsn,  one thousand one nights

wllsn is a Geneseo, New York-based producer who is driven by capricious desires and a fluid sense of musical style. Since 2015, he has repped everything from from vaporwave to beat-oriented noise workouts , to an eccojam’d Filter album. His latest is one thousand one nights, a hip-hop inflected mixtape that takes the future beats out of the grid with tempo switchups and slightly-off rhythms, tumbling and stuttering with a playful, malleable composition. He even flips composer Erik Satie on this one. It’s an understated and ambiguous listen, but its quiet innovations are loud and clear.

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The Month in Mixtapes: August 2016

The Month in Hip-Hop Mixtapes
Given the massive number of hip-hop mixtapes released on Bandcamp, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Each month, Marvin Lin will help ease you into this bounty of music by spotlighting releases by rappers and beatmakers using the Bandcamp “mixtape” tag.

Continue reading