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When it comes to free indie rap music, there are three types of albums … you have the free full-length album (the one that people are often the most familiar with), the EP (AKA the “Extended Play,” which is a shorter collection of like 3-7 songs), and the mixtape. The third type of album, it turns out, is exclusive to hip hop. You never see a country artist dropping a mixtape. It’s yet another new thing that exists solely thanks to hip hop culture. And it is a lot looser in form than an album or an EP. In fact, when it comes to mixtapes, it’s almost as if ‘anything goes’ is the motto.
What, then, even is a mixtape? Track lists usually tend to be more sprawling than those of a traditional album, certainly they are much longer than those of an EP. However, they don’t have to be long. I’ve listened to some amazing 10-track mixtapes in my day. In fact, the shorter mixtapes are sometimes my favorite, since they tend to have less filler than those that contain 30 or 40 tracks. But that’s the other thing, there are also no limits on how long a mixtape can be. Basically, they are just collections of songs that are entirely at the artist’s discretion.
That is one of the best parts of the mixtape. The creative control that the emcee has over them. Albums (and oftentimes Eps, even) tend to be at the whims of the record companies that put them out. The artistic direction, all too often, is guided by commercial concerns more than raw artistic expression. You have to get samples cleared, artists are sometimes told what they can and cannot say, record companies have been known to push the sound towards a more commercial direction. On the mixtape, none of these concerns apply.
This is probably due to the fact that, more often than not, the mixtape is not commodified. Even the most popular rappers in the game – like Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole, and Lil Wayne – have been known to put out mixtapes for free. They are most often used for, like I said, artistic and creative freedom and as a means to promote the artist in between official album releases. This stems from the historical roots of the mixtape.
The mixtape, as an idea, comes from underground emcees trying to get their name known. So, artists will often put together mixtapes and either give them out to people on the streets or sell them for 2 or 3 bucks at the bodega. Either way, the point was not to make a mass amount of money, the point was to get their music bumping in people’s cars, at parties, etc. It was an early form of an artist sharing his music to try and get the word out, long before social media was even being conceived of.
This tradition, of rappers looking for word of mouth promotion with mixtapes, has grown into something huge with the aid of the internet. Nowadays, the mixtape has become almost a genre of its own. A sort of right of passage for many emcees. The mixtape is where a rapper turns to prove himself, to show his lyrical prowess. It is an outlet of creative freedom not tied down by commercialism and censor happy record companies.
Entire websites have been built around the idea of mixtapes. Take sites like Dat Piff, for example. Dat Piff is something of the authority when it comes to all things related to the mixtape. Not only do they keep you in the loop of new mixtapes that are due to drop from your favorite artists, but they have an enormous archive of mixtapes for you to browse through as well. And every single one of them is 100% free to stream.
Dat Piff is great and all, but if you are a true hip hop head, there is a good chance that you have wished that there was an easier way to access your favorite mixtapes without having to pull up the Dat Piff app or go to the site and stream them every time. I, for one, have often hoped that one day I would find a music torrent site that specialized in mixtapes – because hip hop albums are easy enough to find on most torrent sites … but mixtapes are often more obscure and, thus, trickier to find.
Which is why I am so excited to share with you this website that I just discovered: Mixtape Torrent. Imagine Dat Piff, with its huge selection of the hottest mixtapes known to man, but in the form of a torrent site. No more streaming necessary. Just type in the name of your favorite mixtape and, boom, download it just like that. Now you can add it to your playlists and bump it any time of the day or night, regardless of cell service or wifi accessibility.
Get ready to suddenly have access to all of your favorite mixtapes. And if you don’t already have a favorite mixtape, if you are until now unfamiliar with the mixtape game, then welcome to a whole new subculture of hip hop that will keep your speakers occupied with hours of previously unheard music from your favorite emcees. I give to you, Mixtape Torrent.
When it comes to torrent search engines, dynamic web design is not a common trait. Oftentimes, torrent sites tend to be very grid heavy, sterile, and list based. At their worst, they look like a glorified Excel spreadsheet. Fortunately, though, this is not the case with Mixtape Torrents. To their credit, this site has made an effort, it seems, at eschewing the traditional data-heavy look and feel of the torrent search engine.
That is not to say, however, that Mixtape Torrent has an elegantly designed website. In fact, it is, in my opinion, a bit clunky. Not hard to navigate, though. Functionally speaking, the site is adequate. But aesthetically speaking, it is not the best-looking website I have ever seen. It looks as if maybe it could use an update. There is nothing responsive or visually cohesive about the site.
Browsing the site, though, is made easy enough. On the left-hand side of the page, you’ll find an alphabetized list that allows you to browse mixtapes by DJ. On the right, you can click on popular mixtapes or browse by subgenre. I’m not sure if this is the best organizational structure for such a site, however. Personally, I would much rather be able to browse by artist. Being able to browse by DJ is nice, sure, but if you do not know which DJ produced a certain project by your favorite artist, you are out of luck (short of using the search bar, of course). I think a list of emcees would really make this site a lot more intuitive.
Content and Features
In addition to offering tons of free torrents of hip hop mixtapes, Mixtape Torrent also has promo tracks and mixtape news. Unfortunately, though, it does not appear as if Mixtape Torrent updates their news section often (the last post is dated January 1st, 2018). This is a shame, because Mixtape Torrent certainly has a lot of potential to be one of the foremost authorities and sources on mixtape news and hip-hop culture. It would just take a little more effort, I think, a little tender love and care.
Mixtape Torrents also has a comments section, allowing users to discuss either content or the health of a torrent download in general. This is always reassuring to see on a torrent site. Especially when it does not appear as if you can see how many seeders and leechers a given torrent has – meaning that there is no real way to tell how fast or successful a given torrent download will be.
Mobile and Desktop Experience
Say what you will about the overall site design, one thing that Mixtape Torrent certainly has working for it is a fully optimized, mobile-friendly site. Making Mixtape Torrent the perfect source for rap mixtapes for those of us who love to torrent on the go.
Suggestions that I have for Mixtape Torrent
I would love to see Mixtape Torrent do a full-scale website redesign. I want this site to be as dynamic, responsive, and current as it could be. I truly believe in what Mixtape Torrent is doing (and I love hip hop), so, I just want to see this site reach its full potential. A few extra notes: the ability to stream songs prior to download would be awesome; An A-Z list of artists is necessary; and building in the ability for users to follow artists and DJs would be phenomenal.