Hip hop was originally centered around the DJs. Rappers were later brought in to promote the DJ. But, over time, rappers became the focal point of hip hop. The DJs, however, did not die out, as rappers still needed someone to spin records, as they performed.
However, the DJs have experienced much success in the mixtape game. DJ Drama’s empire was built initially off his mixtapes. While he has expanded into releasing albums and developing artists, DJ Drama still does mixtapes. The only changes are him releasing most online with no physical copies.
Because he had no way into the hip hop game, 50 Cent released several mixtapes. But, following 50 Cent, not too many rappers did mixtapes. Former actor, Drake, began releasing several mixtapes, as did Wiz Khalifa. With both rappers becoming highly successful because of this, many more artists began releasing mixtapes to the public.
Now, mixtapes are coming quicker and are more anticipated, than albums. DJ Drama credits this turnaround to Drake and Wiz Khalifa. While many mixtapes are released for free download online, DJ Drama also discussed their retail success. He and Fabolous teamed up for There is No Competition 2 and released the mixtape in retail stores. Def Jam, Fabolous’ label, saw the online success and printed copies, filmed videos, and had additional songs, all in order to release the mixtape in stores.
Some mixtapes are now treated as albums, as opposed to being a promotional tool for the albums.