Mixtapes have been instrumental in the game for years. Joe Budden landed his deal with Def Jam through mixtapes and returned to mixtapes when the deal went sour. It was not until recent years, however, that the mixtape game began receiving so much media attention. Previously, the entire focus was on the album releases and mixtapes were secondary.
50 Cent mastered the mixtape concept, releasing his Power of the Dollar debut album, an intended Columbia Records release, as a street release. With the album/mixtape becoming so popular, 50 Cent provided a new mixtape every year until he was signed. Even then, 50 Cent continued with the mixtapes, a trend soon duplicated by Lil Wayne.
Rick Ross has, arguably, defined the success of mixtapes in this new era of hip hop, technology, and media. Health issues stood in the way of Rick Ross releasing an album in 2011. Upon getting well, Rick Ross announced his Rich Forever mixtape. When the mixtape was released, it flooded the internet and Rick Ross filmed music videos for the singles, which have received radio play. In recent years, artists, especially those unsigned, have used mixtapes as a way to get noticed, doing this. However, few mixtapes have been treated as albums and none have ever done platinum, until now.
Rich Forever has cleared 10 million downloads since its release two months ago. “Stay Schemin,'” the lead single from the mixtape, was picked up by radio stations and has garnered much success. Two months after the release of the song, it is still receiving significant radio play and the music video, itself, has over 3 million, combined plays. There will not be many albums, if any, released in 2012, which will do the type of numbers Rich Forever has done. It is safe to say, at least for the time being, no mixtape will ever do these type of numbers.
Simply based off the numbers and the impact, with “bitch, you wasn’t with me shootin’ in the gym,” becoming one of the breakout phases of the year, Rich Forever is likely the most-influential mixtape of all-time.