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Wednesday, January 14, 2004

2003 YEAR END WRAP-UP: Special Mixtape Awards edition 

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In honor of Justo's Mixtape Awards tonight, I finally decided to post my favorite mixtapes of 2003. Truthfully, this is a far from comprehensive list as I don't buy every tape that comes out and, more than likely, missed some heaters that dropped last year. I just hit my spot in Fulton Mall about once a month and I cop the 2-3 tapes that look the hottest without duplicating joints I already have. I also may have forgotten to chart some tapes from the first half of 2003 that merited it because I either lost them or they fell out of mind when I stopped playing them.

The mixtape market has become flooded with Clue-wannabe's all yelling over their tapes and the days where any real DJ skills are displayed on tapes seems to have long since passed (although I don't really peep the underground tapes so I can't say if it's still applicable in that world). Cats like Vlad and Green Lantern have stepped up the game though from merely dick ridin' artists for exCLUEsives or freestyles to actually creating their own by remixing classic and current tracks with new/different beats or rhymes from other artists. I agree with Madison from Diesel Nation that 2004 will see mixtapes continue to grow in popularity with more label-sanctioned mixtapes a la Fab's More Street Dreams and mixtape-style DVD's probably seeing release because of their low cost to produce relative to recording albums of all-new material.

Here's a few of the tapes that warranted repeat play in my stereo:

Big Mike/Kay Slay Go Hard or Go Home
Best track: Beanie Sigel feat. Young Chris – Beans to the Rhyme

Cutmaster CKeep Talkin’ Part 1
Best track: Busta Rhymes & Spliff Starr – Top Billin’ 2003

DJ ClueOperation Desert Storm (Vol. 2)
Best track: Jadakiss – Holla At Me; Jay-Z – Pump It Up freestyle

DJ CluePlease Don’t Throw Rocks at the Throne
Best track: Fabolous feat. The Game – Brooklyn to Compton freestyle

DJ Green LanternInvasion Part II: Conspiracy Theory
Best track: Eminem feat. 50 Cent & Busta Rhymes – Hail Mary

DJ Vlad & Dirty HarryRap Phenomenon (Part One & Two)
Best tracks: too hard to pick

DJ VladVlad the Butcher
Best tracks: Eminem freestyle; Diplomats & Eazy E – Certified Gangstas (Remix); G-Unit – Grind

HollertronixNever Scared

DJ Whoo Kid/ShadyvilleRewind the DVD mixtape

DJ Whoo KidWestside Reloaded
Best track: The Game – Ice Cream 2003

DJ Whoo Kid More Money in the Bank
Best track: Lloyd Banks, Brandy & Fabolous – Fallback. Why wasn't this on the G-Unit album?

Related reading:
Tales of the Tape: Mix CDs Radically Transform the Business and Culture of Hip-Hop by O-Dub (Village Voice)

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