Mixtapes > Albums in Hip-Hop?

In the last decade, Hip-Hop has became largely more digital. Mixtapes and YouTube videos are all over the place and more often than not people’s claim to fame.  Listeners are downloading and purchasing online albums more nowadays than buying physical CDs.  So this has pushed artists, particularly newer ones, to make a lot of mixtapes and less often release actual “LP”s.

A lot of the time you hear people say that mixtapes are better than albums nowadays. Many artists have better-acclaimed mixtaped than albums. For example, rapper and producer Big K.R.I.T. release three incredibly hot and well-received mixtapes preceding his album, Live from the Underground. However that album has been called by some, one of the most disappointing albums of the year. While, I don’t think that badly of it, I myself did expect more from K.R.I.T. for music I’m expected to pay for. Another example is of an artist from my area, Wale. His “About Nothing” mixtapes were very well-liked, but once he joined MMG it seems people didn’t appreciate his music as much. I don’t share those sentiments, but it’s still worth mentioning.

Many claim the reason why these mixtapes are being better than the albums because of record labels. Record labels are seen as a huge bad guy in the rap industry, supposedly targeting artists and taking away creative control or signing artists with less subject matter, etc. Another thing that supposedly diminishes the quality of the music is that artists aren’t allowed to sample certain music. Rap is a very sample-heavy genre, so if the rapper can’t use certain beats because of the samples they’re using or they have difficulty clearing the samples then that could get a lot of songs removed from the project. However, I don’t think that’s a valid excuse because many times the issue is more in the lyricism than the beats.

So what do you guys think? Are hip-hop albums getting worse than mixtapes? If so, what do you think is the cause?

On a side note, check out the inspiration of this articles LongLiveA$AP, just dropped last week.

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