We Reminisce: The AND1 Mixtape Craze

If you were born in the ’90s (or maybe the ’80s), there is one strong basketball memory you have. It’s not watching Charles Barkley‘s comedic displays on the TNT Thursday NBA broadcasts. It’s not Dick Vitale hooting and hollering about how awesome college basketball is. It’s not Stuart Scott‘s “BOO-YAH” or block party invitations for Pookie and Ray-Ray on SportsCenter.

It’s the memory of when you first watched an AND1 Mixtape.

Debuting in 1998, AND1 Mixtape Vol. 1 changed the basketball landscape forever. While college basketball and the NBA had their collection of enjoyable and amusing moves for fans, AND1 created a brand of basketball that was purely based off entertainment. They took a Harlem Globetrotter approach to streetball. While there weren’t any confetti/water bucket gags, the players on the court put on a show in their own right. Outfitted with nicknames that will live on forever — Skip 2 My Lou, Hot Sauce, Alimoe, Escalade, The Professor, AO and others — these mixtapes sparked the interest of kids everywhere.

Kids of all ages no longer worried about perfecting their jumpshot, but wanted to perfect Skip 2 My Lou’s knee dribble. No longer was post footwork studied. Instead the focus turned to hours of practicing Hot Sauce’s latest move.

It didn’t only have an effect on the court, but off the court. AND1’s brand popularity reached limits it hasn’t seen since 2008. Everybody had one of the t-shirts with a saying like “I’m the bus driver…I take everyone to school” or “If you had my game you’d still have your girl.” Any court you went to was litered with people in AND1 gear. The AND1 Tai Chi was one of the most popular shoes in 2000, and Vince Carter rocked the white and red pair while putting on a dominant aerial display at the Slam Dunk Contest in 2000.

While the mixtapes started out mostly as a showcase for streetballers and ballhandling, it eventually made a turn to showcase some of the best dunkers in America. People like Spyda, Air Up There, Springs, Baby Shack and Helicopter were throwing down dunks that most had never imagined to be possible.

At it’s peak, there was nothing more popular than the AND1 Mixtapes, and the craze reached a point where ESPN got involved with the production of the show “Streetball” that gave viewers an inside look at went down behind-the-scenes during the tour.

Though the tapes stopped coming out in 2008, a simple YouTube search can instantly bring back some of the memories and relive an era that was unlike anything else before it. Ten mixtapes have been released so far, the perfect number to make a list — and that’s exactly what’s coming next. Opinions may differ, but there’s one thing that everyone can agree on: these DVDs are all must haves.

Hit page 2 to check out our rankings — from worst to best — of the 10 AND1 Mixtapes…

10. AND1 Mixtape Vol. 10
The latest installment, released in 2008, served as a celebration of a decade of streetball dominance by AND1. The main focus of this tape is the U.S. tour, and trying to bring the tour back to the street. It also introduces Springs and has the long awaited return of the legendary Hot Sauce.

9. AND1 Mixtape Vol. 6
This tape has a more old school and original vibe to it. It showcases real old film of when the players were playing in the parks doing it for the fun before they went global. They were playing in unknown gyms and parks and more against each other than as a team. There are good sections for Skip 2 My Lou and the late Alimoe (RIP), too.

8. AND1 Mixtape Vol. 9
In this DVD, the tour goes through every area code. Silk gets added to the tour team in this one. A part that was different than all the other mixtapes was that we get to see everyone’s hometown.

7. AND1 Mixtape Vol. 8
The “Back On The Block” edition where Main Event is back on the tour and they got a new coach, Steve Burtt. It was a pretty good mixtape and it is hosted by Shane the Dribbling Machine. We get a lot of crash the courts and see them play in the hood. Spyda, Baby Shack and The Pharmacist make the squad in this one.

6. AND1 Mixtape Vol. 2
This tape was before AND1 started the actual AND1 Mixtape Tour. This volume introduced former AND1 Tour players: Main Event, 1/2 Man 1/2 Amazing, Speedy, Shane “The Dribbling Machine” Woney, and Headache. Famous streetballers I’ll Be Right Back and Future also played on this tape. Each game on this tape was filmed in either New York or New Jersey.

5. AND1 Mixtape Vol. 5
Welcome back, Skip. Volume 5 was the re-introduction of Skip 2 My Lou. Skip 2 My Lou is easily the greatest streetballer to ever cross AND1’s path, and bringing him back for another run with the tour was one of the best decisions made.

4. AND1 Mixtape Vol. 3
Volume 3 served as the introduction to two players that became intricate parts of the series going forward: Hot Sauce and AO. This tape also was the first one that had to be obtained by buying a pair of AND1 shoes.

3. AND1 Mixtape Vol. 7
Volume 7 is hosted by AO. We get to see the new guys like The Professor, Spyda, Helicopter and Go Get It. They got good features for Crash the Courts, Open Runs, and we are even treated to Jason “White Chocolate” Williams footage from high school and college. The video is also dedicated to Flash due to his death.

2. AND1 Mixtape Vol. 4
Volume 4 was the first tape to actually document the AND1 Mixtape Tour. This year AND1 visited only four cities: Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington D.C. and New York City. AND1 added two players in Sik Wit It from L.A. and the late Flash out of Chicago.

1. AND1 Mixtape Vol. 1
Also referred to as the “Skip Tape” volume because the tape was mainly focused on Rafer Alston aka Skip 2 My Lou. This tape and Skip 2 My Lou laid the foundation for what AND1 is today. Without this tape and Skip’s skill, there wouldn’t have been any AND1 Mixtapes.

Which mixtape was your favorite?

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