The mixtape circuit has been able to evolve in the progressing years of Hip-Hop where it has almost become essential for an artist to drop one before ever thinking of dropping an official album.
Think of it as being an audition for rappers to the fans to show and prove that they have what it takes to be part of the team. With such a heavy flood, however, it’s hard for an artist to stand out from the rest which means they must find a means to stand out from the rest. In this case, being different does pay off.
Now backed by Jay-Z, J. Cole had to set his own foundation entering the game and no better a way than to audition with a mixtape. The end result has built his buzz to the point where he has become a top contender for the new class of artists to watch out for.
During an interview with HardKnockTV, the Fayetteville native spoke on the evolution of music and how artists are given more control as to how they can expose themselves to the masses.
“It used to be, you had to have a video, you had to be on the radio to reach the world. Now it’s like, a buzz on the Internet is possible to translate and spread it to the rest of the world now. That’s possible. With that said, we reached a place where 50 came in the game and started it, Wayne took it to the next level and now even Drake [gets] an out of this world type of response.”
The constant issue for artists is that albums aren’t being bought, but Cole states that the listeners are trying to make sure that they spend their money wisely and avoid the days where a single was hot, but the rest of the album was trash.
“Fans, well the the people that are looking and go online to search for new music every day, they’re not interested in buying anything until you prove to them that you’re worth it. In that sense, the value of a song has gone down, which I think is the bad part. The good part is that it’s all opportunity. All these people are hungry for music, so that’s the good part about the mixtape. You’re throwing your bid out there.”
As mixtapes have begun to trump studio albums, artists have also started to veer away from record labels. Drake’s buzz is an indication that with the right amount of innovation, a rapper can take care of their music by themselves.
“I think in a few years, something is going to happen, somebody is going to come out and be like ‘I don’t need a major, I’m just going to sell my album online. Right now if you come out and sell your album online people are like, ‘Now I don’t want to download it for free because you just disrespected me. You have to prove something to me first.’ It works both ways. It worked for me.”
With bubble gum rap everywhere and meaningful music in high demand, artists must come to terms with the fact that fans are investing in their purchases and a sample is always necessary before the main course. Time to go hard on the mixtapes to show and prove that the actual album will live up to the hype.