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Mixtape Memories: The Oral History of Strictly Classics, A Maryland Mixtape Store


Words by Daniel Isenberg (@StanIpcus)

Back in 2003, my boy DJ ROZ and I opened up our own mixtape spot in the back of Extreme, an urban clothing store on the second floor of the Lakeforest Mall, located in the Washington, D.C. suburb of Gaithersburg, Maryland. Both of us were from White Plains, New York, and had recently graduated from the University of Maryland (me in 2000, ROZ in 2002). And rather than move home after receiving our diplomas, we chose to settle in locally and explore post-grad lives in the DMV. This is the oral history—told through a conversation between myself and DJ ROZ—of how we leveraged our shared hip-hop passion into a successful mixtape business.


How it Started

Stan Ipcus: My earliest memory of us wanting to open up our own mixtape store is that I was living in D.C. and working in Gaithersburg after we graduated, and all I really cared about was new rap music. And it was kind of hard to get mixtapes down there right when they came out, which at the time was the only way to hear new rap music first, and have it for yourself. The only time we really got all the new shit was when we went home to New York. And that just really wasn’t cutting it for me, because I always wanted to have everything right when it came out.

Then, I remember someone at my job in Gaithersburg told me there was a store selling mixtapes in the Lakeforest Mall. And I went to check it out, and they had some decent stuff. Like maybe they had a Clue and a Kay Slay tape or something, but it was maybe two or three tapes old. It wasn’t the newest ones. I already had the newer ones from this spot near Howard University I used to go to, but even they weren’t really getting everything, and they were a little delayed, too. So there weren’t really any spots in D.C. or Maryland near where I lived and worked that were super-reliable like the spots back home in the Bronx and Harlem I would go to. And that’s when I think I first talked to you about opening a mixtape spot at a kiosk in the mall. Is that initially how we were talking about doing it?

DJ ROZ: Yeah, definitely. That’s my recollection—you calling me from the mall, and being like, “This is cool, but we can do it better.”

IP: Right. Yeah, these guys had a couple tapes, but they really weren’t on display or anything like that. It was almost like I went up and said, “I heard you sell mixtapes. Do you have any new ones?” And they had a couple behind the counter in a little box or something. And then I remember seeing those kiosks in the middle of the mall and thinking, “If we can figure out how to get all the tapes and just have a little kiosk store that we could run ourselves, we could probably make some decent money and we could have all the new shit all the time.” There was a kiosk mixtape spot at this mall in P.G. County I would go to when we were in school, so I was kind of picturing it being like that.

And at the time, I think you had finished up school and were just DJing. And I was working full-time at a before and after school center in Gaithersburg, so I had the middle of my days free and was always looking for shit to do locally rather than drive back into D.C. and go home during my break, which was like five or six hours long. So I guess we figured between the two of us, we could man the thing pretty decently. Do you have any other memories of how it all started?

ROZ: Yeah, well I was DJing, like you said. And I had this other job at the National Archives. But it was a student job, and I had already graduated, so it was going to end for me. And I didn’t really have much of anything to do during the day. So it was a perfect fit for me.

IP: Where were you DJing at the time, do you remember?

ROZ: A lot of mobile stuff. I was doing Cornerstone back then in College Park. I was DJing at Up Against The Wall, the clothing stores.

IP: I forgot that you ended up DJing at Cornerstone. I used to work there as a cook my junior year, that was my spot. That’s crazy.

ROZ: Yeah. So I don’t really have a recollection of ever even exploring the kiosk idea too far. I think you went into the store—Extreme—and met the owner—Joe—and he was into the idea and right away kind of gave us an area in the back of the store to set up shop.

IP: Right, okay. So I went in there, met the owner, and said, “What do you think about having a mixtape stand in your store?” And he was excited about it. And I think the model I was going off of was how dudes like Ali on 125th Street would have a little mixtape stand in the front of a clothing store.

So you would go into Scheme, which was like a sneaker and gear spot right on 125th, and in the front, Ali would have a case with all the tapes out and speakers pumping the new shit. And he was probably giving a cut to the store, somehow. So that was my thinking, like, “Hey, why don’t we do exactly what dudes like Ali are doing in New York but down here in Extreme, and me and Roz can hold it down? That way we don’t have to worry about a kiosk or the overhead of paying rent, or opening the store and locking it up every day. We just give a cut of our sales to Extreme and everybody wins.” And that dude Joe was with it.

ROZ: I think for him, he was looking at it like, he was a Terp too, so he liked that we were Terps. And if you look at the cast of characters he had in there, he was like, “Alright, I got these two dudes with college degrees in here now.” So I think he kind of liked that angle.

IP: I forgot that Joe went to Maryland, too. That’s ill. So you had Kev, who did the airbrush t-shirts in the front of the store. The RIP Aaliyah and Biggie and 2Pac joints, and really anything you wanted customized, like airbrushing your family onto a shirt, or graffiti shit. He was nice with it, and those were super-hot at the time. Then you had Ndu, who was the wild, young boy selling clothes. And then there was a girl in there too, right?

ROZ: Yeah, Marisol. And her brother.

IP: Right. So we had it pretty sweet then.

ROZ: Yeah, we had a great deal.

IP: Joe gave us a glass case at first that was pretty nice, and it was set up in the back right of the store. And we said, “This is gonna be our little spot.” And we filled up the case. And when we were in there, we would sell them. And when we weren’t, they would sell them for us, and we still got the same cut, which I thought was beautiful. And all the mixtape money went into our own little lock box, rather than get mixed in with the regular store sales.

ROZ: Yeah.

IP: We didn’t have to feel like we always had to be in there. And because we were so cool with Ndu and Kev, they always kept it 100 and made sure the cash was right and the case was locked, and we never had problems. And we would break them off a little bit too if they made a bunch of sales, as I remember. Those guys were awesome.



Getting The Product

IP: So what were we selling them for?

ROZ: $10 a pop. 3 for $25.

IP: Really? We were selling them for $10?

ROZ: Yup.

IP: Wow.

ROZ: And then, you know, every few sales, you’d get the, “Yo, these are $5 in New York.” [Laughs.] That was like the going rate on Canal Street I guess.

IP: So it was $10 a tape. And out of that, we would give Joe his cut—which I thought was very reasonable—and take the rest to split and also re-up with.

ROZ: Yeah. Initially we got all our CDs from Tape Kingz. You worked that out.

IP: Right. I forget the dude’s name from Tape Kingz. He was a really nice English or Irish guy or something. And their shit was pretty much always official, no bootlegs, with fast shipping. That’s why I liked dealing directly with those dudes. And that’s also why I think it was cool that we sold them for $10, because they were the real deal. Official covers, CDs with the printing on them, no fugazi shit.

And the cool thing about Tape Kingz was that they had all the old shit, too. So we would get the Mister Cee Best of Biggie and Jay Z and Redman and Mobb Deep and all those classic joints. And the old classic Green Lanterns and Stretch Armstrong tapes and all that stuff from years prior. Plus, he would always have the new stuff.

But then, I linked up with Mix Unit, which was up in Connecticut somewhere, and they were getting everything new and official right when it dropped also, and were giving them to us for a lower wholesale price than Tape Kingz.

ROZ: And certain DJs I could get them for less, directly. I could run off a list of a whole bunch of DJs I started working directly with.

IP: Right. So that was my contribution. I would get orders from Tape Kingz and Mix Unit, straight COD and overnight or two-day shipping right to my building in D.C. I remember I used to leave envelopes of cash for the woman who sat at the front desk in my building, she held us down.

So I think to start, we got our money together and put up a few hundred dollars to fill up the case with a Tape Kingz order. And we called our spot Strictly Classics, because we only wanted to have the dopest mixtapes in the case, no wack shit. Then we took it from there.



2003 Hot DJs and Artists/The Diverse Hip-Hop Music Scene

ROZ: When we opened up, it was right around the time when the Southern stuff was really starting to go mainstream.

IP: Yeah, it was right at the cusp of Lil Wayne really starting to gain popularity as a solo artist.

ROZ: Exactly.

IP: I remember you had all those Sqad Up tapes, early. Where’d you get those?

ROZ: Man. I got them from Black’s brother, Dre.

IP: Black! He was the best. What was his deal again?

ROZ: Black bought into the store.

IP: Right, he had a piece of Extreme. So we had a connection to some of the Southern shit through the owners of the store.

ROZ: Yeah. And then what I would do is, people would come in asking for stuff, and I would try to get it.

IP: And then dudes were releasing Southern tapes. Like DJ Smallz had the Southern Smoke series.

ROZ: And that’s right when DJ Drama really popped on the scene heavy, too. I remember he had that Kanye West and Jamie Foxx record “Slow Jamz,” he had that months before it came out. I used to love that record.

IP: So we opened up in March 2003. I feel like anytime Green Lantern came out with a tape during that year, he was killing. The Invasion series was crazy, with the Em and 50 and Busta Ja Rule diss, and all that shit. And people liked having the Big Mike and Kay Slay tapes. At the time, they were dropping new tapes like every week. Those were the ones I always wanted for myself.

ROZ: At that time, I felt like Big Mike was starting to beat Kay Slay to the punch on a lot of records. Remember Big Mike had that tape Rookie of the Year, with Amar’e Stoudemire on the cover? I feel like starting with that tape, it was years where no one beat Big Mike to a record.

IP: Yeah, we were in business as Big Mike became the dude to beat. Kay Slay was a monster, but Big Mike seemed to become the most consistent with the big exclusives that year. They eventually teamed up, too, and put out some shit together, like the Racial Profiling series and those joints.

ROZ: Clue would always sell because he was Clue. And he would sell because he would have stuff that no one else had, like a Fabolous freestyle or something.

IP: There were some other dudes during that era who would kill it quietly. Like, I used to like getting the Kool Kid tapes, because he would have that new State Property shit and stuff like that Big Mike wouldn’t really have. The more obscure Omillio Sparks type shit.


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ROZ: You used to rock with the blends, too. Roli Fingaz.

IP: Yeah, he was great. The Fire Blends series. And of course Whoo Kid was on fire then. He was dropping all the crazy G-Unit tapes. Even dudes like Snoop and Kanye were putting out their own mixtapes. Plus Diplomats were still putting out joints. There was a lot going on. 2003 really was like the height of the mixtape game. There was always something new and quality coming out. And dudes were really making their covers and artwork official like actual albums, especially the G-Unit and Dips stuff. And Green Lantern.

ROZ: Plus, you gotta remember, Maryland and D.C. had a real diverse music scene. Heads liked New York rap, but some heads were like “fuck New York” and only wanted Down South shit. Devin The Dude, Scarface, UGK—those dudes were huge in D.C. Amongst the real D.C. heads, not the gentrified shit now. They liked all that chopped & screwed shit, too.

IP: Right. How’d you get all that shit?

ROZ: I dealt with DJ Screw’s people, because you know, he passed I think in 2000. I dealt directly with them, and used to get the old, official Screw tapes. And I had a connect where I was getting the Swisha House stuff. Mike Jones, Paul Wall, and all those dudes. And everything Down South, they’d release the album, and then they’d have to release the chopped & screwed version.

IP: So there were dudes who loved the New York shit, and then there were dudes who wanted that type of stuff.

ROZ: For sure. The D.C. area encompasses all of that.

IP: And 2Pac, too. Weren’t there a bunch of 2Pac mixtapes? Cats loved 2Pac down there.

ROZ: Oh yeah, yeah. The Makaveli tapes. We had a couple of those.

IP: That Vlad and Dirty Harry and Green Lantern 2Pac tape was huge.

ROZ: Definitely. If there was one CD I could say we sold the absolute most of, it was that. 2Pac Rap Phenomenon II. Hands down. And you know what else was huge? Go-go. And we had all the Go-go tapes too.

IP: Word! How did we get all those Go-go tapes?

ROZ: The store would get those on their own. There was one guy that had all the relationships with the bands, and the bands would give that guy their PA tapes, which were recordings of their live shows. And they were just CDs, with the dates written on them with a magic marker. Like, Backyard Band, and then the date of the show.

IP: Yeah, people would always come in for those. We never really got into that, right?

ROZ: No, Extreme ran that. But it was part of where all our tapes were, so we would help sell them sometimes and just give the store the money.

IP: Which was completely cool. It made us more official because we had those. I just liked that we had everything the people wanted. I forgot about that. Go-go was so big down there! I never got into it. I always thought it was dope and I respected it, I just never got into the scene.

ROZ: You gotta see it live. [Laughs.]

IP: You know what? I never did. I never saw a real Go-go show in all my years down there. I fucked up! But I do remember seeing dudes outside the arena where the Wizards play straight slaying it on like flipped-over pails and garbage cans. Shit was incredible.




Loyal Customers/The Internet

IP: Do you remember any of the customers? I feel like I wasn’t as involved in the day-to-day sales as much, because I would come on weekdays during the day when it was a little slower. Were there a lot of loyal customers?

ROZ: Oh yeah. We had a lot of consistent customers. We had one kid that used to come from West Virginia. And pretty much the entire Montgomery County, and all the way up north to Frederick.

IP: Would people not understand what it was? Because eventually we moved into a bigger store space next store, and we had the whole back wall of the store locked down with like two huge cases. It was pretty big.

ROZ: You definitely had people whose initial reaction was, “Oh shit. They got everything here.” And then you would always have your typical New York dude that’s out of town that thinks he knows everything, and would complain about the prices, or if there was a tape that was out the day before, he would rub it in your face that you didn’t have it. [Laughs.] But for the most part, it was love. People consistently would come back.

People would call in too. Because what would happen a lot of times is this was also around the time when the streets were still getting their music from the streets. But a lot of hip-hop heads were going online for stuff. But the websites would get the cover and the tracklists from the DJs and post it before they even had the CD.

IP: Yeah, because this is 2003, before the blog and Internet era where you could just go to NahRight or DatPiff or whatever and download the newest shit. I know file-sharing sites were out and you could get stuff that way if you were super on point. Napster and Audiogalaxy and those shits. But we were open before that blog era, so you still had to be in the streets—or the malls—to find that shit. [Laughs.]

ROZ: Right. You still had the computer savvy people—or the straight up dorks—that could find out that the tape dropped online, but they couldn’t get the music online. So people would see it online, and come through the next day to us and see if we had it. And because we were on point with the orders, we usually did.

IP: The mixtape shit is like drugs. If you get into it, you always want to get the newest shit, and you always want to have it first. And it was fairly affordable.





In-House Mixtapes

IP: We were making our own tapes, too. I mean, you were a DJ. I was a rapper. I would put my own shit in the window, and people would actually cop. And we would make those Strictly Classics tapes like the Best of 50 Cent and Best of Peedi Crack. I feel like in the beginning we would give those away for free as like a bonus.

ROZ: Yeah, if you copped enough.

IP: If you copped a couple CDs at once, we would throw you one of those for free, to kind of build up love in the community and show heads the shit that we were doing ourselves was dope, too.

ROZ: That Peedi Crack tape made it all over the place.

IP: I talked to Peedi Crack about that tape. I was supposed to interview him for the site, and we never got around to it for whatever reason, but I ended up talking to him one night for like an hour, just talking shit. And he knew about that tape. He was like, “Yo, I remember that shit!” And your 50 tape was crazy, and people loved the Mary J. Blige one, too. But once you did the Big L one, that’s when I knew it was official. Because I had moved back to New York, and started seeing your Big L one at all the tape spots in New York. So what we were doing was starting to really spread.

ROZ: What was funny was, for me being a DJ, it gave me a lot of leverage with different sites. Like, “Alright, I’m copping all these from you. So, you need to put my shit on your site.”

IP: Right.

ROZ: And it was funny, because a lot of people thought it was just good business. Like, “Alright, this dude is copping all these CDs from us, let’s take his stuff.” But then it was like, “This kid can actually DJ.”





DJ Skills vs. Exclusives

IP: Do you remember fucking with Ev from UpNorthTrips back in those days?

ROZ: Yeah, he had Evil Empire, or something like that.

IP: Yeah, Evil Empire. They had exclusives, too.

ROZ: There was something else where it was him and another kid. That was part of the wave of people that were putting out shit who weren’t DJs.

IP: Right. And as a DJ, you were always a fan of the Green Lanterns and dudes who would take the time to do ill intros and mix their shit. Whereas someone like me loved that too but didn’t give always give a shit, because I’m like, “Well, this Evil Empire has four new Beanie Sigel songs that I’ve never heard so who cares if it’s mixed dope.” Which is good that we liked both of those styles, so we would have everything. Like, you used to get those tapes by those dudes from my boys at The Diggers Union, DJ Unexpected Look What I Found? and all that, with the crazy original samples all mixed. Those tapes were sick.

ROZ: Oh yeah. Un’s nasty.

IP: Yeah, you got on your job, and started bringing more interesting stuff like that into the store to make it more diverse. Whereas I was more in my lane, making sure that we had everything that was hot in New York and focus on the classics and “Best of” tapes. The J-Love Nas’ Finest and Ghost Hidden Darts and all that shit. Best of DJ Clue Freestyles. That was all really important to me. And you would get all the other shit, so we would be covered. I feel like we had a really dope tape spot. There were probably spots in New York that couldn’t fuck with us, because we had all the New York exclusive stuff, the ill DJ skills mix stuff, plus all the Southern stuff, and the reggae stuff too. And the classic mixtapes you couldn’t really get that easily anywhere else, all official. Between my interests and your interests, we made it diverse.

ROZ: Because I’m a DJ, I used to think of it like rocking a party. When you look at the crowd and say, “People are gonna like this next song.” I would try to do that with the customers, too. I would try to size up the customer like, “He would really like this CD. He’s old school, so he’ll like the mixing aspect of it.” Or, “This person doesn’t care, he wants the new shit.” I would try to make a recommendation, and make sure they left with something they liked.




IP: The other thing I feel like is at this time, the instrumental mixtapes were taking off hard!

ROZ: Oh, hell yeah.

IP: Everyone and their mom wanted to be a rapper. So we would have all those J. Armz instrumental tapes, and anytime anyone came out with an instrumental tape, we’d have those too. It became its own little section in the case, because everyone was so hyped on freestyling, and the technology was coming around where you could record at your crib without having to go to an official studio if you had the right little setup. I used to love those, because I used to do my own joints off that. If you hear old Ipcus mixtapes, you’ll hear that motorcycle taking off in the beginning of the track. That was the J. Armz drop.

Plus we had a little section of DVDs eventually, too. The SMACK DVDs and that wave was just starting then. And Mobb Deep and a few other artists were starting to put out their own joints. Plus there would be video compilation joints with like all the Nas videos on one DVD, and stuff like that. And hood movies like Shottas. Before YouTube started, that was the only way to see all the old music videos. I think we had some Don Diva mags at one point, too.




Our Place in the Community

IP: So I ended up moving back to New York at the end of 2003, because I got a production deal with these dudes out of Sony, and was trying to make it happen with the rapping. And you kept it going, and ended up getting your own spot, right?

ROZ: Joe left the store. And everything was running great over there. But I wanted to try and do my own spot. So me and one of the other dudes that worked there tried to open a spot up in Hagerstown, ‘cause that’s where he had a lot of family. And that joint pretty much just broke even. So if you’re just breaking even, that kind of defeats the purpose.

IP: And by then, the mixtape culture started to die out anyway.

ROZ: Another thing worth noting is around that time—’03 to like ‘06—it was before the recession. So people had cash. There were people that would spend $200 with us at a time.

IP: There were definitely dudes that were like drug dealers and real street dudes that would come check us.

ROZ: Oh, for sure.

IP: I remember meeting a few dudes and being like, “Alright. These are the dudes running shit down here.” Because we were from out of town. I mean, I worked locally in an elementary school so I would know people through the community a little, and we went to College Park so we were familiar with Maryland and had friends around the way, but we didn’t grow up down there. But through the store, we started to figure it out a little bit and get to know the local players. Like, “Okay, these are the dudes running shit over here.” Or, “These are some real cats. I don’t wanna fuck with them. Let’s make sure we take care of them.” Like, normally, a neighborhood spot, you open up in your neighborhood. But to come from out of town and establish yourself can be tricky.

But I think we did it respectfully. It was like, “Here are two white kids from New York who love hip-hop.” It was cool because it kind of gave us that cred, like we know what we’re talking about because we grew up in the culture. But we also had to be understanding of the fact that this wasn’t the area we grew up in, or lived in. But I feel like we never had any problems. It was all love, and the people in Extreme showed dumb support because we added a nice element to the store.

ROZ: And the whole mixtape thing, there is a street element to it. It’s obviously different than selling drugs. But at the same time…

IP: It wasn’t the most legal thing.

ROZ: It’s what I call “a legal grey area.” [Laughs.]

IP: Exactly. But we pulled it off. If you think about us being in that store with Kev, who was an immense talent and the nicest guy ever but a total character, and then Ndu the wild African kid who’s ready to fuck everything moving.

ROZ: [Laughs.]

IP: You got the local girl in there doing her thing, the suited-up businessman owner, the street dude who’s his partner in there, and then there we were in the mix. I mean, it was kind of the makings of a great reality show. [Laughs.]

ROZ: Black was a wild dude. And those dudes loved hip-hop. Like, they took that shit serious. That was I think another reason we never had any issues. People knew not to fuck with his shit.

IP: That was good. And he liked us. I feel like very early on, when they heard my Ipcus stuff, heads all showed me respect on that level. I never blew as a rapper. I’ve had my little success and everything, but anyone in my life who ever actually heard me rap and knew me on a personal level always showed me mad respect, which I’m proud of. And they did the same to you from DJing when they heard your tapes or saw you spin. So there was always an element of respect because we all loved hip-hop.

But yeah, you’re right. We probably never had any problems with neighborhood cats because Black had shit on lock. And plus, it’s not like we were smack dab in the middle in the hood. We were in a fairly suburban mall. It’s not like someone was gonna come in and try to rob us or something like that.

ROZ: But we definitely had some sketchy people in and out of that store. There was a lot of wild shit. Especially later on.

IP: I was gone by then. But even before, I was probably naive to a lot of it, because I would come in and hang out on weekdays and hold it down, and bring in the big packages that I would get delivered to the crib, take one for myself and load up the case. And there was always cash coming in, so we’d have profits to split up. For me, it was a nice little side cash flow, and a fun way to be involved in the culture. I purposely didn’t get too caught up in any local bullshit, I just tried to stay cool with everyone and keep it positive, which I know you did, too.



Looking Back

IP: I loved having our own spot. I always wanted to have my own store. It was great. It looked dope, we always had the presentation tight. I took pride in that. To this day, that’s something I miss having in my life. Somewhere that’s not your crib and not your job where you can show up, hang out, do something dope for the culture, interact with the community, and make some money in the process, too. We should do it again!

ROZ: I wish!

IP: It was fun. The game’s completely changed, so I don’t know how you’d do it now. You’d have to have a little vinyl spot or something with a web store connected. For the collectors.

ROZ: Most people go into any kind of business with a vision like, “This is my spot. I want to make a little money, it’s chill, I like talking to people.” And then the reality is, you’re not making money, sometimes you’re losing money, you’re wasting all your time, you’re not having fun, no one’s showing up. That’s the reality of it for a lot of people. But for our first time doing it, we had that experience that is exactly why people start their own businesses. It was a combination of timing and luck, and plus us knowing our shit.

IP: I think one of the reasons it worked is that street hip-hop and mixtapes were super hot at the moment, and we were in a market where the supply didn’t meet the demand. We recognized that Extreme and the shoppers at that mall kind of fit the demographic of people that would want mixtapes, and we worked out a nice deal so we were able to make money and have full control. And we had great suppliers and supporters. I think it was lucky in that it worked out, but I also think the reason it worked out had nothing to do with luck. It was the fact that we recognized we could supply the demand, even when a lot of people themselves didn’t even necessarily understand what the product was at first. But once we introduced them, it was on.

I still have four or five of those huge CD binders filled with old mixtapes from those days. I always loved that culture. Still to this day, I’m all about it. It’s one of the reasons I write for NahRight and started the Mixtape Memories series. I like being a part of the culture, and contributing to it. And I still like putting people on to shit, and being the first one to have new shit. I love when artists send me their music directly before it comes out. What a privilege.

I think us having that store was a nice way for us to come together as friends and hip-hop heads and do something special for that area while we lived there. I wonder if people remember it and say, “Yo, that spot was the shit.” Because I definitely look back on it like, “That was really fun, and profitable, and we had all the fire.”

ROZ: And not one picture of it! If I knew there was gonna be Instagram one day, I would’ve taken some flicks. [Laughs.]

IP: Word. [Laughs.] I remember I was mad sick one day laid up at the crib, and I took all these old ads and cutouts I had saved from The Source, and Rhyme of the Month verses and shit and made a big-ass framed collage for the store. It was so dope. I wish I still had that. I think I left it there when I moved home as a way to leave my legacy behind. I remember some dude dead ass offered me a $1,000 for it one day, and I didn’t sell it to him. I think I’m gonna try to recreate it one day, fuck it. I’ll make an even doper one.

ROZ: It was a very interesting time in music back then, with the way people got their music, and the way artists began to release their music, and the Internet starting to replace the street DJs.

IP: We caught it right before it flipped. And it was the perfect time. Think back to 2003, and it was Jay Z Black Album hype the whole year, Dips, G-Unit, Roc-A-Fella, and D-Block all at their height dropping new shit all the time. Lil Wayne becoming a superstar. T.I. becoming a superstar. Kanye West becoming a superstar. It was just a super perfect time period for street hip-hop. And we caught the wave.

I’m glad that we were a part of it, and I think our story is an important part of how mixtape culture really expanded beyond New York and took over during those years. It really made a huge impact on the industry, and we were one of those unsung little tape spots out in Maryland that helped bring this new popular piece of the culture to the people. And just how you went on to be a prominent DJ down there and start the Hip-Hop Karaoke shows and all that, and how I went on to what I do—it’s an important part of our personal hip-hop history as well. And to think we started out as two kids from White Plains who just loved the music. That’s all it was.

ROZ: That spot is definitely important to me.

IP: Me too.

Shouts to everyone that worked with us at Extreme, all our loyal customers, and all the mixtape spots worldwide.

Images courtesy of Discogs, DatPiff, PhilaFlava, and the NahRight/Westcheddar archives.


Mixtape Memories: A Dozen Classic Artist Mixtapes For Your Labor Day Weekend Listening Pleasure
Mixtape Memories with DJ Craig G (Summer ’95 Edition)
Mixtape Memories: 10 Classic DJ Clue Mixtapes Released in 1995
Mixtape Memories with DJ Doo Wop
Mixtape Memories with DJ Ron G
Mixtape Memories: 20 Classic LOX Mixtape Cuts
Mixtape Memories: 5 Classic JR Writer Freestyles
Mixtape Memories: 15 Classic Cam’ron Mixtape Cuts
Mixtape Memories with DJ SNS
Mixtape Memories: 20 Classic Nas Mixtape Cuts
Mixtape Memories with DJ Whoo Kid (Part 1)
Mixtape Memories with DJ Whoo Kid (Part 2)
Mixtape Memories with DJ Drama (Part 1)
Mixtape Memories with DJ Drama (Part 2)
Mixtape Memories with DJ Green Lantern (Part 1)
Mixtape Memories with DJ Green Lantern (Part 2)
Mixtape Memories with Tony Touch
Mixtape Memories: 10 Classic Biggie Smalls Mixtape Cuts
Mixtape Memories: 5 Classic Kanye West Freestyles
Mixtape Memories: 5 Classic Redman Freestyles

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