Mixtape: Paramount Plus documentary defines the medium for the uninitiated, and possibly redefines it for a new era

The first thing “Mixtape”, the new documentary hitting Paramount Plus this week, does is give us a clear definition of what a mixtape actually is from one of it’s many featured hip hop legends…

“A mixtape is a personal playlist from a DJ who feels this is the way the sequence should be. This is the story I’m trying to tell. These are the artists that I feel that are the ones creating the vibe. Here it is from my perspective.”

But the Omar Acosta directed project does be sure to go back through the history of the mixtape where it’s taken many different forms, and some you’re probably well aware of depending on when you started listening to music.

It begins with cassette tapes that were extra careful to include the ambiance of the New York venues they were often recorded in. It expands on how the business of mixtapes began to grow, circulating to the rest of the country, including down to Puerto Rico, while swinging over to Japan, Europe, London, and pretty much everywhere.

We continue with the CDs, and mixtape operations infiltrating the music label with interns stealing unreleased tracks and leaking them to the mixtape DJs. Then the file sharing evolution, and the implementation of different marketing techniques before the industry became so big that the FBI had to get involved.

Many superstars are featured, with Tony Touch, DJ Clue, Kid Capri, Lil Wayne, Fifty Cent, and Jeezy all getting their own chapters. We also hear from producers, and even history making athletes like Shaq and Mike Tyson, who played their own role in the distribution of the music. KRS One delivers a couple of “ah ha” moments with his own experience and philosophies, specifically on how the labels at one point needed mixtapes to make their artists sound believable.

The documentary does argue whether the mixtape is still alive today. Lil Wayne contends that if the music is authorized then its not a mixed tape, while others say that the social media stream is the new mixtape.

A lot of ground is covered in less than 90 minutes before Mixtape ends with a tribute to the “Dedicated to the mixtape DJs who without their passion, vision, and hustle, hip hop would not be the global force it is today”.

What did you enjoy from the documentary? Let me know in the comments below..


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