Thursday, October 30, 2014

Top 10 Mixtapes of the Past 5 Years

A couple weeks ago, Childish Gambino put out a GREAT mixtape called STN/MTN. It was a great mixtape that showed how much growth the actor/rapper has gone through since his debut mixtape Culdesac. Afterwards, I started to think about how hip-hop has been doing some growing of its own. Sure it isnt on the level of the late 80's to early 90's...but that doesnt mean we haven't had some great music recently. 

Around 2006, hip-hop started to go down hill. Ringtone downloads and yuuuuuuing became more important than actually making something with a story, something with substance, something that actually made sense. However, since 2010, some great new rappers have come out and hip-hop has gotten back on track because of it. Sure the worm escaping from the Men In Black headquarters has been pretty bad for our ears.

Im a stoner.
Yet can we really say the Chief Keefs, Trinidad James and Young Thugs ruin it for the K Dots, J. Coles and even Drakes? No. I dont think so. So here is why I decided to write this list; the top 10 mixtapes to come out in the past five years!

I want to start by saying this was a VERY hard list to write. There are so many mixtapes that aren't on this list that I wish could've been. This goes to show you(and prove my point) how far hip-hop music really has come in the past half a decade. 

Before we begin I wanted to give some honorable mentions. As I said before, there were a lot of mixtapes I couldn't put on here that I wanted to. So, just to let you know that I was still thinking about them, they will be mentioned as followed.


1. Joey BadA$$ - 1999 

This and Summer Knights were absolutely amazing. Pro Era Aprocalypse also gets a mention here. However, out of all of them, 1999 was my favorite. Joey makes many references of the golden age of hip-hop. It's to the point you're thinking about where you were at the time you first heard the same ones he's referencing. A great trip down memory lane from a guy who technically wasnt even alive during the times the memories were occurring.

Favorite song: Waves

2. Frank Ocean - Nostalgia, Ultra

Before he was screeching on awards shows and Saturday Night Live. Frank Ocean came out with this work of art. Nostalgia, Ultra is actually Frank Ocean's first album but it is what a mixtape should be. Frank Ocean actually released this on his own due to Def Jam acting like he doesn't exist. He showed that was a horrible decision with N,U. As a gamer, Frank Ocean using video games to name his skits after was the easiest way to win me over. Lonny Breaux Collection also gets a big salute from me!

Favorite Song: Novacane

3. XV - Popular Culture

Another nostalgia trip on my list.. Popular Culture reminded me of everything I enjoyed growing up. It's also a story about him growing up and how pop culture had an effect on him as he grew up and became who he is today. I connect with it so much because it reminds me of myself and it is the mixtape I wanted to include the most.

Favorite Song: Ahhh! Real Monsters 

Time to move on to the top 10. I hope you enjoy!

10. Nipsey Hussle - Crenshaw 

This isn't the best mixtape of the past 5 years but it was probably the most anticipated, next to another entry on the list. When people will line up at multiple locations to spend $100 on your mixtape, you have to be doing something right. The best part of Nipsey Hussle and Crenshaw to me is he really makes music that can be anthems for any part of life you're in at the moment. No matter what you like to do, there is a song on Crenshaw for you. I'm also a sucker for music that is perfect for just turning the headphones up and chilling, bobbing your head back and forth to; that's what Crenshaw does for me. 

Favorite Songs: To be honest, I like them all at the same level. You can really just play this mixtape through without skipping once. To stay consistent with the article though I'll say

U See Us, Check Me Out, 4 In The Morning and Crenshaw and Slauson

9. Problem and Iamsu - Million Dollar Afro

To be honest, this really isnt my style but it has SO MUCH quality inside. MDA is just put together so well and has a good mixture of styles. Every song bumps and will have you bumping your head. It reminds me of music from the early 2000's right before it took the horrible turn it did. The best part of MDA is that it is a very fun mixtape that doesn't make you shake your head at the lyrics. 

Favorite songs: That N*gga, Gas, Hunnits

8. Meek Mill - DreamChasers 2

It was May 7th 2012 and I couldnt wait to get home from work. Swiftly I loaded up my computer and couldnt wait to download DreamChasers 2 and I couldn't. That's right. DC2 was so highly anticipated it shut down a couple of websites. Then a few hours later I could...and the wait was absolutely worth it! I've begun to stop enjoying Meek Mill, I couldn't even get into DreamChasers 3 because all he does is yell now . Yet this and its predecessor were really awesome. It includes one of my favorite Meek Mill songs ever, which samples one of my favorite rap songs ever. Easily his best work since he's been in the game. Best part of the mixtape is the feature list: Rick Ross, Big Sean, Fabolous, Kendrick Lamar, etc. 

Favorite Songs: Once again this is a song you can play through with no skips. However, I'd have to say Ready or Not and Flexing.

7. Logic - Young Sinatra: Undeniable/Welcome To Forever

Okay, I cheated. These two are so equally great that I had to include them as one. These two belong on the top 10 list because they solidified Logic as one of the best rappers to come out this decade. He probably is the best rapper to come out this decade lyrically and the Young Sinatra mixtapes will attest to that. I cannot wait to get Under Pressure and I will probably own it by the time you read this. The best part of the Young Sinatra mixtapes are the lyrics and probably the inspiration it gives you. Not anyone can put such a timeless individual as Frank Sinatra on something and get away with it. Luckily, Logic did.

Favorite songs: Choosing that is a sin and I refuse to do so and since I already cheated once I thought I would do it again. Dont give me that look. No it's not because he's white. Alright! Inception and Roll Call.....there happy?

6. Fabolous - The S.O.U.L. Tape 2

If Nipsey Hussle is one of the most underrated rappers of the west side, Fabolous is the most underrated rapper, period. No one has stood the tests of time like he has. Name someone. Jay Z, Eminem, Nas? Okay. You're right. But notice that everyone you mention is already acknowledged as one of the best rappers of all time. Fabolous belongs there too. The Soul Tape 2 is what Fabolous has put out consistently for years; witty punch lines flowing perfectly off of some of the hottest beats you will ever hear.

Favorite songs: B.I.T.E and Want You Back

5. A$AP Rocky - Live.Love.A$AP 

I'm used to being the only person(or one of the only people) to know about something or someone, especially when it comes to music. However, I remember walking into a class one day early 2012 and hearing a classmate blasting Brand New Guy through their headphones and then another student turning around in their seat asking(already knowing the answer)"AWW SHIT IS THAT ASAP ROCKY!?!??!" And I realized how popular this dude already was. ASAP Rocky introduced himself as a man of many different skills and styles. He's a jack of all trades, a master of none, but with all of those things he mixes together helped form the best mixtape of 2011. He raps effortlessly and that's actually what makes him so good, he has a great melody to his flow as well....almost like 50 Cent but not as great. 

Favorite songs: Bass, Peso, Demons and Wassup

4. J. Cole - Friday Night Lights

 It took me a little time to get into J. Cole. Maybe it's because I judge some rappers before I give them a chance. Yet, after coming to my senses and listening to this in 2012(two years after it came out), I realized the error of my ways and instantly realized how great Jermaine is. Sure...he does have some sad Eeyore moments in his music and I love making fun of him almost as much as I love making fun of Aubrey Graham... but the way he raps is absolutely amazing. The best part to Friday Night Lights is its stories and J. Cole's lyrical prowess. Something I love is when a rapper samples another rapper's beat(or any musician) and then makes that beat their OWN song, nothing like the original version. Friday Night Lights has a great example of this in Villematic.

Favorite songs: Before Im Gone and In the Morning

3.  Wiz Khalifa - Kush & OJ 

Before Wiz turned into the Carella Deville or whatever the hell he is now....he came out with one of the best mixtapes of all time in Kush & OJ. You dont have to smoke to be into this, just be anything other than a miserable bum. The best part of Kush & Orange Juice is that it is just a great feeling mixtape that will put you in a great upbeat mood. It's also EXTREMELY smooth throughout, which is what Wiz Khalifa is still a pro at creating, smooth music. When you also take the time to find a song in a game like Chrono Trigger makes me take more notice. I've loved Wiz Khalifa since the Say Yeah days, back in like 2007 or so, this mixtape made him one of my favorite rappers. 

Favorite Songs: Never Been, Still Blazin' and Good Dank

2. Wale - More About Nothing

Man....this mixtape right here is just...I dont know...perfection? Close to it. Wale gets a lot of hate...Im pretty sure a lot of people hate on this too. I guess that's because it's different from its predecessor and maybe people wanted a second part to a different mixtape he made? Who knows. Maybe I dont know because Wale is another rapper that took me a bit to get into and Im not a "veteran fan" who knows like the day one know how those people are right? Anyway, once again Wale used probably the best sitcom of all time as a theme to make a great mixtape. Wale showed off his ability to speak on any topic throughout using his amazing vocabulary and his confidence shows throughout the whole piece.

Favorite songs: The Soup(i mean...duh) and The Flight

1. Kendrick Lamar - O(verly) D(edicated)

Im calling it now(be sure to answer the phone). Someone is going to say this is all due to bias. Here's the thing...if it is bias, it's because this mixtape is what made K. Dot my favorite rapper. It was the best thing I've heard in a long time and he hasn't slowed down since. Every song on O.D. is magical and an example of Kendrick Lamar's unique style and skill. Every lyric has a message, a meaning. Every song is connected to something else in some way. I havent heard someone connect multiple meanings in single bars since Jay Z and his fellow Black Hippy member Ab-Soul. OD starts great but somehow finishes even better. 

Favorite songs: Opposites Attract, Ignorance is Bliss, H.O.C., Cut You Off

I wanted to reestablish that this was an EXTREMELY hard list to write. The problem with it was there was SO MANY great mixtapes to come out recently; to pick ten took weeks. To top that off in those weeks, more great mixtapes came out. I also wanted to stick to JUST mixtapes and away from EPs and free albums(which is why you dont see a lot of things on here that should be). Not everyone is going to agree with this list and I invite that. My goal with this article was to get people to talk about their favorites and spread knowledge of their favorites. I wanted for people to hear some of these if they haven't yet. I did it because music is important in our daily lives and there are too many people saying it's getting worse. The best thing this article could do is create debate. If it does, it proves my thoughts correct. So there you have it. I hope you enjoyed this! Keep listening!