If you don’t appreciate a good mixtape, you should probably move on past this post. And keep continuing on until you find some oncoming traffic.
Mixtapes have been one of the most important ways Hip-Hop music and culture have been distributed since the beginning of the genre’s existence, though they haven’t always been chronicled as such, at least compared to other mediums. Fortunately, DJ Mars and Maurice Garland are attempting to remedy that by working on a documentary detailing the history of mixtapes, which will be released sometime in the future.
In the meantime, fanatics can hold themselves over with his new coffee table book, The Art Behind the Tape – discussed previously here – which explores the evolution of mixtapes’ visual representation, from cassettes labelled with marker to fully designed cover artwork. The video interviews are a by-product of the work and research done for book and here we get a chance to peep Mars’ interview with the legendary DJ Clark Kent aka “God’s Favorite DJ.”
In the clip, the always informative Clark talks about how there were well-known DJs distributing live performance tapes previously, but Kid Capri helped pioneer the trade by becoming the first in-studio mixtape DJ, eventually going platinum selling his classic 52 Beats tape:
“They weren’t actually mixtapes in the sense of what they get looked at now, you taped the performance of that night,” Clark explains. “Brucie B and Starchild’s mixes were just them taping what they were doing, and then Kid did it and it started to roll out from there. Kid would be the first one I would say was really a mixtape maker.”
He went on to describe how those first unofficial club recordings on cassette, complete with paid-in-advance drug dealer shoutouts, sold for exorbitant prices:
“That little ten dollars, we wasn’t doing that. We was selling mixtapes for $100 dollars. Everybody wanted your mixtape–it started at $20, it didn’t work its way up to $20, it started at twenty, and if you had five tapes, and five hustlers on the block, they were paying $100 for it so noone else could get it.”
Mars and co. have more interviews on the way with the likes of DJ Drama, Killer Mike, DJ Sense and J. Period, so keep your eyes on TheArtBehindTheTape.com for new developments. The The Art Behind the Tape is available now for pre-order and the first 100 to purchase receive a fresh ABT limited edition New Era snapback.