What’s not to love about a mixtape. For one thing, they’re free, so you can download them without dipping into your pocket. We’re not even sure what the term mixtape even means in 2014? Four years ago mixtapes were exactly that: tapes, mixed by local DJs, blending various instrumentals and raps straight out-the-studio and onto the street. These self-released downloads not-quite-albums have now become almost as exciting as a full album release. Without the pressures of the label, sales etc the mixtape format continues to give the young artist the licence to try something a bit different. The experimental and immediate nature of these releases is what makes them so exciting, we’ve rounded up a cross-section of our favourite R&B, hip hop and experimental mixtapes that came out in 2014. Take a peek at our list below and let us know what your favourites were in the comments section. Enjoy!
10. Rome Fourtune- My Beautiful Pimp II Download
Rome Fortune’s follow-up to “Beautiful Pimp,” was only the first taste of what he had to bring this year.Unlike its predecessor, which had a slew of producers on the boards,” Beautiful Pimp II,” was entirely produced by CitoOnTheBeat.The album keeps it in the family with his grandfather playing vibraphone on five tracks and his eldest son providing sweet vocals on a couple songs as well. The range of sounds on this mixtape is unlike anything around in hip-hop at the moment, and all credit to Rome and Cito for bringing new sonics to the game. The tracks he did with Four Tet, were also pretty special.
9.Kit – Lownt God Rising Download
Chicago rapper KIT teamed up with Supreme Cuts for Lownt God Rising, the follow-up to last year’s NewWavey mixtape. The result is a collection of nine menacing cuts that stay grimy and experimental. Definitely a name to watch in 2015. The album features JODY members The GTW, Khallee, and David Ashley. The new sound of Chicago.
8.Palmistry – Free Indeed Download
The Brixton-based singer/producer Palmistry shared this brilliant mix for DIS Magazine. At only 30-minutes, it’s short but full of pure fire and full of exclusive songs, edits and collaborations.
7.Bayou – Lootpack Download
Bayou’s debut mixtape for Double Denim mixed the glossy with the ugly and did away with proper song structures, but it all went together perfectly.
6.Thestand4rd – Thestand4rd Download
thestand4rd, consisting of Allan Kingdom, Psymun, Bobby Raps, and Spooky Black harness their collective talents to the fullest and dropped a wildly adventurous mixtape. On their self-titled mixtape, the four solo artists come together and combine every influence of their individual interests to create 11-tracks of genre-hopping music that’s hard to pigeon-hole. We’re looking forward to more weird and wonderful sounds from thestand4rd in 2015.
5.Vince Stapes -Shyne Coldchain Vol. 2 Download
What’s most striking about Shyne Coldchain Vol. 2 is how Vince Staples manages to pack so much into every song, despite the majority of tracks only hitting the two-and-a-half-minute time mark. Touching on themes like death, generational suffering, mental anguish, gang violence, and survival, Staples offers a well-developed sense of nihilism enhanced by insightful political commentary and anchored by vivid first-person storytelling. Vince Staples is getting better with every release, and anyone who’s heard his first proper EP ‘Hell Can Wait’ will testify to that.
4. Little Simz -E.D.G.E Download
We’ve been raving about Little Simz for a while now and this is why. Simz’s just never seems to run out of great material, dropping solid track after solid track. She even managed to release two pretty impressive EP’s this year. Having witnessed this girl star steadily rise it is to no surprise (to us) that ‘E.D.G.E’ is the complete and utter smash that it is.
3. Raury – Indigo Child Download
After a few leaks, the Atlanta teenager gave us his debut album Indigo Child. His skills as a singer/songwriter are exceptional and can be heard throughout the mixtape. The thirteen-track project blends everything from soul, folk, hip-hop, R&B, indie and more. Next year is gonna be a big one for Raury.
2.Mick Jenkins -The Water[s] Download
The breakout project for the 6’5″ Alabama-born, Chicago-raised rapper Mick Jenkins. Centered around the idea of comparing water to life’s truths, we find Jenkins at his absolute best, loaded with a sharp tongue and refreshing storytelling abilities.We’re expectant of more deep dark jams from Jenkins next year.
1.DonChristian -Renzo Piano Download
We listed Renzo Piano in our “Top Albums,” even though it is essentially a mixtape. Anyway it’s so good that it gets to be on both list. Renzo Piano features abstract production, a bizarro strain of R&B, and some rather foreboding rapping. The tape builds on his 2013 debut ‘The Wayfarer’ and it’s delightfully strange and very very good.