Over the past decade the concept of a mixtape has been fast-evolving; fluidly transforming as bootleg freestyle collections die out and technology allows them to be replaced with album-quality releases of all original material.
In 2016 the line between mixtape and album is thinner than ever, with the impact of streaming meaning that all music pretty much sits at the same value - that £10 subscription fee. Whether the selection of songs currently pumping through our Apple Music and Spotify accounts was uploaded by a major label aiming for chart glory, or a kid in their bedroom trying to share her latest creation, doesn’t really make a difference to us consumers.
Having said that, the format does still allow for the circulation of some great new music. From low key creative experiments, boundary-pushing sounds to even just a bunch of unreleased material that didn’t quite make it through the major label machine. 2016 was another great year for these self-initiated, promotional collections - in fact, a bunch of these could easily have sat amongst our top 40 albums of the year list!
To help us navigate through murky waters, we asked our contributors to choose their mixtape picks defined as projects that are downloadable free-of-charge from DatPiff, LiveMixtapes, SoundCloud or the artist’s official website.