Diplomat Freekey Zekey recently discussed the relevance of mixtapes in hip-hop, and how Dipset paved the way for artists like 50 Cent to follow suit with their own underground movements.
According to Zekey, the Dips ignited and started the mixtape revolution.
“We started the mixtape regime,” Zekey promised in an interview. “We started all of that. Everybody’s got their mixtape things through the Diplomats because we actually was giving y’all free albums. A lot of times when you do a mixtape, it’s called a mixtape because you’re mixing the lyrics you have on a song that’s already played. It’s a mixture of new raps and old beats. For us, we was giving you new beats, new raps and we was killing the streets and that’s how we got on and popped off so hard and 50 [Cent] followed suit and then it was a domino effect from there.” (Dr. Jays)
In 2009, 50 Cent shared his mixtape secrets and detailed how he teamed with Hot 97 radio deejay Mister Cee to make old-school themed underground projects like Sincerely Yours and Forever King.
“It’ll be some more records there playing,” 50 said in an interview. “Mister Cee plays a lot of that music still, ‘Old School At Noon.’ I had Cee send me a CD that he thought would be hot to hear. Even some of his favorites, I listen to ‘em and production-wise, I wanted them to still meet what the youthful audience feels is hot right now. So some of those records, some of the things they were saying was cool that I could have wrote from that perspective like writing a remix is easy. Like writing a song that already has the context of the song already there is easy for me. Then it’s not process, it’s just putting the words to the scenario. If you have a production plan but no idea where you’re going or what to write, that’s when it starts to get difficult. Mixtape material is easy for me. Two days, three days, [I record it]. I know who I’m talking to.” (MTV)
Last year, fellow New York rapper Fabolous spoke on whether or not mixtape releases had run their course.
“The Drake [So Far Gone] mixtape of course was a huge success,” Fab explained in an interview. “Lil Wayne‘s tape generated a lot of interest. I saw Wayne and just listening to his tape gave me kinda the feeling that people still accepted the mixtapes and wanted to hear it. I guess it’s particular artists that they attach to but I had felt even with the most high-class artists, people were getting so used to getting free music that the mixtape game wasn’t that influential anymore. So when I seen what [Wayne’s] No Ceilings did, it let me see that there’s still definitely potential there, there’s still that market there. I think for me it’s definitely there because my albums tend to be a little more mainstream than my mixtapes.” (Real Talk NY)
While he believes mixtapes are declining in popularity, Fab previously said there were ways to help bring them to new heights.
“That game is really saturated,” Fab said in an interview about the mixtapes. “I feel like you really have to do something special now, but there’s not really anything special you can do on a mixtape besides trying different things musically or with the way you distribute it…There’s nothing special to me about a mixtape now…There’s pretty much one coming out every five minutes. Right now, I think the dopest thing is to have a mixtape online–don’t even have a hard disc, because even that’s slowed down. When was the last time someone went somewhere and bought a hard copy of a mix CD? So maybe the next step is to release something digitally and tie it in with that.” (Hip Hop DX)
Check out Freekey Zekey’s interview below: