Straight Outta CoMo: Top five mixtapes of the summer
Whether you were too busy playing Ultimate Frisbee or hibernating in your room watching Netflix (like I was), there may have been times where you forgot to catch up on your music this summer. And if you missed out, boy, did you miss out. A ton of rappers took the summer to drop some quality mixtapes for Internet scavengers to unzip and download on their computers for free. While there’s still time to download new tracks for your long car ride to campus, here are my top five mixtapes of the summer:
XXL 2013's Freshmen Class: The Mixtape – Various Artists
Notable tracks: "Beyond a Reasonable Doubt," "She Like," "Gone"
Let’s start with a grab bag of the top young talents in the hip-hop game. XXL Magazine selected 10 rising stars in the rap game and ran an entire issue about the young guns. After letting these guys (and girl) showcase their talent via cypher, the magazine dropped a mixtape with all the artists featured on it. This year’s class consists of Logic, Joey Bada$$, ScHoolboy Q, Ab-Soul, Travi$ Scott, Dizzy Wright, Angel Haze, Trinidad Jame$, Action Bronson and Kirko Bangz (Chief Keef doesn’t really count here).
If you like variety, this is the tape for you. You can go from the piano powered beats of Joey Bada$$’s “Beyond a Reasonable Doubt” to the faster pace, funky sound of “Gone” by Logic. You can go from the gold jewelry anthem of “I Need Mo” by Trinidad Jame$ to the dark confessions of Angel Haze’s “Element.” You get a mix of different sounds and styles, and for the price of zero dollars, this mixtape is an absolute steal. Think underground hip-hop’s version of a "Now That's What I Call Music!" CD.
The Greenhouse Effect Vol. 2 – Asher Roth
Notable tracks: "Numbers," "Monday Free," "Actin Up"
After a notable hiatus and the failed progress of his sophomore album, everybody’s favorite frat-rapper is back.
Out of the blue, Asher Roth announced the sequel to his highly acclaimed “The Greenhouse Effect Vol. 1” mixtape. And it didn’t disappoint.
Roth went back to the basics on this tape with a freewheeling approach. Armed with two of the best producers in the rap game, DJ Drama and Don Cannon, Roth put together a mixtape with a fusion of laid-back beats and uptempo sounds. No matter what beat is set in front of him, the idea behind the lyrics stays consistent: Roth just raps about whatever is on his mind. He goes from his woman-ogling track, “Girlscout Cookies,” to “Paradise,” on which he rhymes about his personal utopia and what makes him happy. And to the appeal of female fans, Justin Bieber makes an appearance on the album.
As fans wait for his second album to finally drop, this mixtape is a good way to quench their thirst for the time being.
Untitled EP 2 – Hodgy Beats
Notable tracks: "SALE," "Bullshittin," "Years"
In the Odd Future movement, Tyler, The Creator and Earl Sweatshirt are king (let’s be honest and say Frank Ocean isn’t too into the movement), and they have received a tremendous amount of attention for their music. But not many people give enough credit to the other rappers affiliated with the Odd Future movement.
One of those guys is Hodgy Beats, who dropped Untitled EP 2 over the summer. Hodgy plays around with a bunch of different sounds, from the trap vibes of “SALE" to the guitar riffs of “Wicked.” His lyrical content, unlike Tyler, is a lot more sincere — Hodgy touches on fame's effects on him and his outlook on the future, along with the obligatory rhymes about marijuana.
As Odd Future fans patiently wait for the more talented Earl Sweatshirt’s new album, Hodgy Beats’ tracks deserve a listen on iPods everywhere.
Black Flag – Machine Gun Kelly
Notable Tracks: "Skate Cans," "Pe$o," "Breaking News"
Other than Kyrie Irving, Machine Gun Kelly is the biggest name in Cleveland. The man repping EST has proven that he is the best speed rapper in America since Busta Rhymes, and he’s back for more.
After dropping the successful Lace Up album earlier this year, MGK returns with Black Flag. He begins the album with tracks of raw aggression, focusing on the struggles of living in poverty with “Skate Cans” and “Pe$o,” where the hook is “I be going hard for that peso.” He closes the mixtape on a slower and more personal note with “Home Soon” and “Dark Side of The Moon,” where he tells the narrative of two kids who struggle with life’s issues. The song bears a striking resemblance to Ludacris’ “Runaway Love” track.
With over 100,000 downloads on the summer alone, this mixtape is a must have.
Summer Knights – Joey Bada$$
Notable Tracks: "Word is Bond," "My Youth," "Sit N Prey"
Fresh off being named an XXL Freshman, Joey Bada$$ didn’t leave his fans waiting — he dropped Summer Knights. A year removed from his highly successful mixtape 1999, his newest release didn’t disappoint.
The vibe of Summer Knights is summed up in the title: it is made to be played on summer nights. It gives a smooth, chill listening trance that most hip-hop songs only envy to provide. Plus, Joey Bad$$ fills the album with his youth and witty metaphors as he usually does, even making a Pokémon reference.
The mixtape is kicked off with funk in the reggae-esque track “My Youth.” The albums starts to slow down in the middle, where Joey fuses a smooth sound with uncharacteristically aggressive bars in “95 Til Infinity,” an ode to his late friend Capital Steez, who committed suicide last year. The album closes with the DJ Premier-produced track “Unorthodox,” where he shows off his rhymes and shows listeners why Jay-Z was so keen on signing the 18-year old.
Easily the best mixtape released this summer, this should be at the top of your “to download” list. It’s a nice play as you drive into the night on your way to Columbia — and the beginning of the year.