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The year has barely started and somehow Future has already managed to drop two full length “mixtapes” that are essentially albums. Going back to 2015 that makes 8+ projects he’s released, with the majority of them falling under the mixtape label. The amount and rate at which he’s putting tapes out is almost comical, and it’s a trend that seems to be more and more the norm, and not just for him.  While he may be the most visible, he’s definitely not the only one putting new mixtapes out like they’re going out of style. Young Thug ironically called out artists for putting out too much music while simultaneously dropping 5 tapes in a little over a year, Curren$y releases new projects so often, I stopped checking for them, and Gucci Mane literally drops tapes after a day of recording. Some will claim that it’s evidence of their insane work ethics, or musical genius, or anything else they can think of, but I think it’s time we stopped applauding this endless wave of mediocre mixtapes and started calling it out for the cop out it is.

Weezy taught ’em

Artists tour on these tapes, hit the radio with these tapes, and now even sell these tapes; they’re albums, without the stigma and expectations that come with being called one.

Lil Wayne may not have been the first to really popularize mixtapes, but he’s the first that I can remember to hit us with a deluge of tapes one after another. At that time, that sort of output was unheard of and it helped launch him into mythical status. With the success and acclaim that that afforded him it was a matter of fact that imitators were sure to follow. But whereas his tape were true mixtapes in the way that they were mostly comprised of freestyles, covers of hit songs, and throwaways that didn’t make his albums, today’s mixtapes are more or less albums. More often than not fully comprised of all original songs, significant guest features, and official singles. Artists tour on these tapes, hit the radio with these tapes, and now even sell these tapes; they’re albums, without the stigma and expectations that come with being called one.

…albums are still expected to represent the very best an artist has to offer, they’re still regarded as the true measuring sticks of one’s artistry and ability, they’re still the defining moments of one’s career.

No matter how much the landscape of music may have changed, albums are still expected to represent the very best an artist has to offer, they’re still regarded as the true measuring sticks of one’s artistry and ability, they’re still the defining moments of one’s career. There’s immense pressure that comes with an album, but mixtapes nowadays allow these artists to cop out from those expectations. Instead of having to sit down for weeks, possibly months, to craft something truly memorable, they can churn out mixtape after mixtape, 50%-60% comprised of garbage to mediocre material without much criticism or backlash simply because it doesn’t have that ‘album’ label.

Missing the hardware

Albums are what truly separate the good from the elite and I’m seeing a whole lot of highlights, but not a lot of rings.

I’m not saying that artists can’t do what they want, they can, I’m just saying they won’t be getting any applause from me for having 10 good songs out of 100. That’s not sign of a unique work ethic; every artist has thousands of songs they record that don’t come out, that’s copping out. I’ll take quality over quantity any day. It’s like scoring 60 points on 60 shots in basketball; yeah you had 60, but I don’t respect the percentage. Get your points, pad your stats, but you can’t be in the conversation with the best. Albums are what truly separate the good from the elite and I’m seeing a whole lot of highlights, but not a lot of rings.

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