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Top 10 Mixtapes to Listen to This Year

Most mixtapes serve as the start-up to many artist’s careers. They are a glimpse at an artist’s talent and work. The foundation from which they will grow. By not being signed to a label, these artists are free to express and produce what they want, as well as offering their music for free. Here are 10 of the best mixtapes to jam out to this year.

1. “Acid Rap” – Chance the Rapper

Chance the Rapper released his second mixtape “Acid Rap” in 2013. It brought him recognition within the hip-hop community. This mixtape features his unique style and discusses violence and injustice surrounding his native city of Chicago. 

2. “S” – SZA

This neo-soul mixtape features SZA discussing what it means to experience life and to mature. Released in 2013, this mixtape explores the aspect of growing up and what new possibilities life entails.  

3. “Nostalgia, Ultra” – Frank Ocean 

Frank Ocean’s debut mixtape, “Nostalgia, Ultra,” placed him among some of the best up and coming artists. This 2011 mixtape was inspired by Hurricane Katrina and Ocean’s relocation from New Orleans to Los Angeles. 

4. “Long.Live.ASAP” – A$AP Rocky

This mixtape catapulted A$AP Rocky into the music world. With his 2011 release of “Long.Live.ASAP,” A$AP Rocky explores life growing up in Harlem and the world as he sees it.  

5. “Telefone” – Noname 

The Chicago born rapper and poet, Noname features spoken word sound with hip-hop rhythmics on her 2016 debut album. The mixtape gives birth to fluid imagery, as Noname creates a storyline within the songs. 

6. “Bastard” – Tyler, the Creator 

Tyler, the Creator’s 2009 debut mixtape follows a his interactions with a therapist and his therapy sessions. This mixtape highlights his development as an artist and his style. 

7. “(O)verly (D)edicated” – Kendrick Lamar

Kendrick Lamar has certainly built a name for himself with his hard-hitting albums. However, many listeners overlook his earlier work that is a raw account of him growing up in Compton and becoming acquainted with the hip-hop scene. 

8. “Cloud 19” – Kehlani

Kehlani released this R&B mixtape in 2014, launching her career into effect. This mixtape features many of her most popular singles.

9. “Friday Night Lights” – J. Cole 

J. Cole released his third mixtape in 2010. J. Cole put together the songs his label did not believe would bring in sales and released them as a mixtape. With that being said, “Friday Night Lights” is an exploration of his life featuring many freestyle tracks. 

10. “Coloring Book” – Chance the Rapper

“Coloring Book” sent Chance the Rapper’s name into the limelight, including winning several Grammys for this mixtape. It features his take on growing up, losing innocence and discovering God. 

Whether one is looking to explore new music or to find free music, mixtapes serve as perfect source and they are more authentic of the artist who are not bound by labels. 

Photo credits: cover, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

Emily Holter is a Freshman at Virginia Commonwealth University. She studies Mass Communications with a concentration in Print and Online Journalism. She is an avid reader of books, a lover of all things Cher, and a flower enthusiast. Most days, she is tucked away in a coffee shop, sipping on her black coffee and enjoying light conversation.
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