The era of the mixtape has changed in recent years, as singles get more love and digital distribution takes over, but there are still some incredible mixtapes being dropped, and plenty of classic solo mixtapes that you may have missed.
A solo mixtape gives you a chance to experience an artist’s work on their own, a totally different context if you’re used to hearing them in a group.
5. Can’t Tell Me Nothing by Kanye West
A lot of people who may not have been familiar wiht Kanye’s music at this point were exposed to this tape from the video for the titular track starring comedian Zach Galifianakis, who danced around and lip-synced to the lyrics.
4. Fear of God Mixtape by Pusha T from Clipse
The legendary emcee Pusha T struck out on his own, from the group Clipse, for this solo mixtape. Fear of God is an incredible mixtape that’s worth tracking down if you’re able to find it, Pusha T puts on a clinic. Pusha T wasn’t the only member of Clipse pursuing solo projects at the time, here’s what MTV.com had to say about Malice’s work around the same time:
“Malice has also been keeping busy. The MC recently released the video short “This Is Only a Test,” in which he weaves spiritual rhetoric into his narrative about a man grappling with street life.”
Pusha T was still a member of Clipse, the group hadn’t broken up yet, when he started to establish his solo career.
3. Detroit by Big Sean
Big Sean’s Detroit mixtape came out during the same era as Fear of God by Pusha T, and you can kind of hear that, even thought the two have clearly distinct styles. In hindsight, there are some absolutely bonkers features on Detroit by Big Sean, including J. Cole, Juicy J, King Chip, French Montana, Royce da 5’9″, Kendrick Lamar and Tyga. How spoiled we were, especially considering that this mixtape by Big Sean was released for free.
2. Dr. Lectar by Action Bronson
Action Bronson, a trained chef, loves to rap about food. Granted, it’s usually not the same type of food that Dr. Hannibal Lector might enjoy, but this is a stellar mixtape none the less, and laid the foundation for some classic albums that Bronson would subsequently drop.
1. Longterm Mentality by Ab-Soul
This is a fantastic collection of conscious raps by Ab-Soul, from the Black Hippy crew which also consists of heavy hitters Kendrick Lamar, Jay Rock, and ScHoolboy Q. This mixtape shows off Ab-Soul’s incredible versatility, and still holds up as a much-listen to this day.