Rick Ross Officially Blurs The Mixtape Album Line
The line between hip hop mixtapes and free albums has been getting closer and closer. I've been meaning to write a whole seperate article specifically on the increased rate of this phenomenon. This new Rick Ross mixtape "Rich Forever" just put the nail in the coffin, so to speak. Take a look at the mixtape's tracklisting below.
The features and production read like a commercial studio album. Why are we still calling these releases mixtapes? Because DJ Scream is attached to the project? What does DJ Scream actually bring to the table on this? No shots, but I'm sincerely curious. Rich Forever features guests like Drake, Diddy, John Legend, Nas, Future, Pharrell Williams, Meek Mill, Stalley, French Montana and more. It also features big label production from The Inkredibles, Chuck Inglish, Justice League, Boi-1Da and more. Mixtapes now feature serious original production. In this case, music production from well known hitmakers in the industry.
Because this project is free and has DJ Scream attached to it, does that make it a mixtape? It's beginning to get confusing. Even though this is a free release, Rick Ross got paid from it. Believe that! The other day on Twitter Ross announced that there was a 6 figure bidding war for his mixtape release. That's more than some small label artists get on their commercial album advances. LiveMixtapes.com got the exclusive, so I assume they paid Ross the money. Even though it will be everywhere online 2 minutes after LiveMixtapes publishes it. The benifit from internet traffic will payoff the 6 figure exclusive fee.
Looking towards the future, I don't think that the term mixtape will completely go away. But, the concept of a hip hop mixtape is starting to get confusing. Just take a look at some of the Top 10 Mixtapes of 2011 lists. Some bloggers chose to keep it strictly mixtapes only and others chose to go with free releases from the year.
I sort of pinpoint the shift in mixtape mentality to the success of Drake's "So Far Gone." Released as a free mixtape with no DJ attached and it played like a commercial album. This caused artists to realize that they didn't need a DJ to host their "mixtape." They also started thinking more free album "original production" mentality, rather than old school "jacking for beats" mixtape mentality. In 2011 we saw a lot of great mixtapes that felt more like free albums. It's almost becoming awkward to call these free releases mixtapes, when you naturally want to say album, due to the quality and format. I predict that the trend will continue to follow, with artists realizing that they can actually earn money from free mixtape releases via sponsorships, exclusivity rights and more.
Who knows what 2012 has in store for the digital hip hop industry. But, whichever way it trends, we will continue to source the best in mixtapes and free releases as well as provide artists with a comfortable home online to showcase their music. Let us know what you think of the mixtape / free album merge below in the comments and don't forget to visit our homepage or our Top 100 Wall for the best in hip hop mixtape releases. Thank you for reading. @getrightmusic