Words by Daniel Isenberg (@StanIpcus)
There’s a lull in rap music this week, for me at least. Don’t get me wrong, there are some hot songs out there right now that I really dig. I’m in love with the new Cormega and Black Rob song “Home,” that beat is crazy Extra P! Mega’s new album has a few joints on it, actually. And I got that Mobb Deep “Dirt (Remix)” with Ghostface in heavy rotation too, along with that new Cali kid Cozz’s song “Dreams” and Your Old Droog’s latest leaks “Free Turkey” and “No Message” with RAST RFC (which just dropped this morning). But these are just songs. Even on repeat, they can and will not sustain my necessary hip-hop intake. I need multiple, full projects of fire to survive, and I’ve played out all the other new shit I’ve been bumping this year to the max (which is a light stack in comparison to last year’s abundance of remarkable releases let’s be honest). Shout to Issa Gold of The Underachievers, I just downloaded his new solo EP. But even with that in the queue, I’m know I’m not going to meet my weekly quota of heat absorption.
Okay, you’re right. I’ve been spoiled by the frequency of modern-day rap releases, forgive me! But it’s all good. When the new shit ain’t dropping fast enough, there are always older joints you can pull out to reverse the quiet. So with that said, I decided to dive into my archives this week and revisit five rappers’ mixtapes from the past, and I invite you all to join me. Read, stream, and download below.
1. Fashawn – The Antidote
Fashawn’s been back on my radar lately, thanks to his newly announced deal with Nas over at Mass Appeal. I’m happy for him, because I always thought he was a dope MC that deserved more shine. And my basis for that opinion is his 2009 mixtape The Antidote. Sure, one of the reasons I love this tape is because The Alchemist produced the whole shit, and he flipped a bunch of my favorite samples on it (ex. Bob James’ “Nautilus” and Sammy Nestico’s “Shoreline Drive”). But beats are only half the equation. Fashawn comes off on this tape, with the smooth voice and flow, and ill lyrical content. “FYI,” a track that is barely a minute long, was better than most rappers’ albums in 2009. I can’t wait to hear what Fashawn comes with now that he’s under Nas’ wing, but until then, I’ll be cruising to The Antidote, which truthfully never really left my rotation in the first place.
2. Lupe Fiasco – Fahrenheit 1/15 Part II: Revenge of the Nerds
I’m having a hard time remembering how I first heard about Lupe Fiasco. I know that it was before “Kick, Push” and his appearances with Kanye West, but I can’t pinpoint the moment. Regardless, I know I was instantly infatuated with his talent, and I went on a crazy downloading spree after hearing one of his songs. I think at the time he had just released this tape, which to this day still houses my favorite songs of his. “Lupe the Killer” is one of his dopest cuts ever, and I was happy to find out recently that FakeShoreDrive blogmaster Andrew Barber feels the same way. But there’s some other crazy shit on this Revenge of the Nerds tape. The second verse of “Mean & Vicious,” where he raps about the actual verse and how it’s trying to outdo the first verse, is arguably the most clever set of bars ever committed to tape. And “Switch (the Science Project),” where Lupe alternates slow and fast styles over the “Still Tippin’” instrumental is equally incredible. This mixtape is where it’s at, and if you’re a Lupe fan and you’ve never heard it, I encourage you to get on your job, now. And if you’re like me and you haven’t heard it in a while, well, there’s no better time than the present to dust it off and give it a spin.
3. Capital STEEZ – Amerikkkan Korruption
I used to cover the evening news shift for Complex Music back in 2012, and I distinctly remember that the first project I ever asked my team members there about posting was this Capital STEEZ tape. Joey Bada$$ was just starting to buzz, and I knew about STEEZ from his appearance on “Survival Tactics.” Since Joey appeared on the tape, and Pro Era was a movement that was beginning to move, I pushed to get the tape posted, and thankfully I was given the green light. Since then, I had the privilege of doing one of Joey Bada$$’ first major online features, and the unfortunate duty of reporting on STEEZ’s death. To me, Pro Era has never been the same without STEEZ, though I have high hopes for Joey’s next drop and I’m still rooting for the whole crew. But I can’t front, this summer could use some new STEEZ. So since that rumored posthmous project hasn’t hit my timeline yet, I’m gonna go back and give Amerikkkan Korruption another spin. There’s some raw shit on here, my favorites being “Vibe Ratings” and him and Joey’s joint over “So Ghetto.” Plus the Reloaded edition (added to the stream below and also in the download link) has some extra tracks that I never really gave a proper spin. I have a feeling that when I listen back all the way through, I’m going to uncover a couple gems that I missed the first go-round.
4. Curren$y – Verde Terrace
Curren$y has mad mixtapes! That guy never stops releasing music. And he’s quite consistent, too. It’s not like any of his shit is ever wack, but some stuff definitely bubbles to the top. And the tape I’m in the mood to listen to this week is Verde Terrace. For one, I love that DJ Drama hosts it. I’m from the school where DJ drops make the mixtape BETTER. But beyond that, this is just some straight summer Spitta shit that puts me in the place I want to be right now. You can fall back to this tape, and just ride out. “High Tunes” is a top 5 Curren$y song in my book, and “Job” is the perfect opener. I’m looking forward to revisiting this one.
5. Jay Z – S. Carter Collection
I don’t know about you, but I watched that footage of Jay Electronica bringing out Jay Z at the Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival a hundred times in a row. How fucking sick was it that he came out to the “Young, Black, and Gifted Freestyle” off the S. Carter mixtape?! And he didn’t miss a word. He rocked that shit like it was a new verse! Damn, Hov. You really are the best. I’m pulling this one out of my physical mixtape collection, fuck an MP3. Not to stunt, but I got the original CD with the cover above in a shiny box under my bed, stashed away for summer days like today. But it’s all good, stream/download below, do what you gotta do. This is one of the dopest mixtapes EVER. You get exclusive Jay Z freestyles over crazy beats like N.E.R.D.’s “Rock Star” and Dr. Dre’s “Puffin’ on Blunts and Drankin’ Tanqueray,” classic non-album Jay Z joints like “You’re a Customer” and “Black Gangsta,” and early 2000s bangers like the “Excuse Me Miss (Remix)” and “Stop.” Crazy tape.
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