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A&E Spotlight: A Timeline of Essential Mixtapes

By Sammi Brennan

Mixtapes have been in circulation since the 1970s. Our generation tends to forget that some of the most popular hip-hop artists still continue to create mixtapes that are free to download to this day. These mixtapes tend to be experimental, rather than targeted to a mainstream audience. For some artists, mixtapes are released to keep fans temporarily satisfied while the artist continues to work on their next album. In honor of the recent mixtape releases, below is a timeline compiled of mixtapes created in the past several years which incorporate impactful rhymes and high-quality beats from various artists.



Rick Ross Black Dollar

Release Date: Sept. 3, 2015

Description: Black Dollar is a big surprise, to say the least. Most fans were expecting a full-length album, when all of a sudden Black Dollar, a 17-track, hard-hitting mixtape, was released. Ross definitely knows how to be flashy, which he proves on tracks like “Bill Gates” and “Money and Powder.” Most assume Ross’ collaboration with other big names such as Meek Mill and Gucci Mane would lead to more in-your-face songs with booming bass, but Ross keeps himself rather composed on this mixtape, letting his rhymes hold the track by themselves. Social injustice is a strong focus of this album; Ross includes audio from reporters and emphasizes the mistreatment of black people in tracks such as “Foreclosure” and “We Gon Make It.” Black Dollar is definitely worth a listen.


Top Tracks: “Money Dance,” “Worlds Finest,” “Foreclosure”

Rhyme Sample: “Repertoire hustle such a tenacity. High roller, bet us another masterpiece.”


B.o.B Psychadelik Thoughtz

Release Date: Aug. 14, 2015

Description: Mixtapes are ideal for any artist wishing to experiment with his or her music without the risk of losing sales. Who better to create his latest mixtape than the master genre experimenter himself, B.o.B? As expected, each track dives into various styles of music. From the upbeat, disco sound of “Back and Forth,” to the slow, downtempo of “Violence” featuring Jon Bellion. This mixtape is anything but redundant.

Top Tracks: “Violence,” “Love Life,” “Have Nots”

Rhyme Sample: “Tryna’ pack a stadium, you tryna’ catch the latest trends. The line between the good and bad is paper thin.”


Legacy Dolo 3

Release Date: March 18, 2015

Description: Legacy is most commonly recognized for his late 2000s string of hits alongside Ben J in the hip-hop duo New Boyz. New Boyz gained nationwide popularity with their hit song “You’re a Jerk” released in 2009, which was accompanied by the “jerking” dance. The duo followed hit after hit with songs such as “Tie Me Down,” “Break My Bank,” “Backseat,” and “Better with the Lights Off.” Since their 2011 album Too Cool to Care, New Boyz have been under the radar. Legacy, however, has released four mixtapes in his entire career, with Dolo 3 still climbing in popularity. Dolo 3 includes especially smooth tracks, which are best listened to by closing one’s eyes and letting Legacy’s soft voice take you into another dimension.

Top Tracks: “Don’t Wait,” “Stay Close,” “Understand”

Rhyme Sample: “Use it like profanity, damn believe my sanity. My mood changes so much I’m a one man family.”



Childish Gambino STN MTN

Release Date: Oct. 2, 2014

Description: Only Childish Gambino can bounce from television shows, to stand-up comedy, to feature films to hip-hop flawlessly. Named after Childish Gambino’s hometown of Stone Mountain, STN MTN lacks most of  Gambino’s soft singing and instead incorporates some slick verses and head-bobbing beats with a bass loud enough to make the room shake. His hard rapping is especially addictive on this mixtape.

Top Tracks: “All Y’all,” “Go DJ,” “No Small Talk”

Rhyme Sample: “This the new mixtape, but it’s still the same game. How you gon be the don, when Don half my name?”



Meek Mill Dreamchasers 3

Release Date: Sept. 29, 2013

Description: Meek Mill is the type of rapper who can rattle up a listener’s brain; the third mixtape in his Dreamchaser trilogy was highly anticipated and well worth the wait. The mixtape includes head-banging, pulse-racing tracks like “I’m Leanin’,” “Money Aint no Issue,” and “Make Me,” which  Mill is so adept at creating. However, Mill’s more subtle songs such as “My Life” and “Heaven or Hell” are quiet pleasers. He pulls in A-listers such as Rick Ross, Nicki Minaj, Future and French Montana, and their contributions are the final touches to Dreamchasers 3.

Top Tracks: “Ain’t Me,” “I’m Leanin’,” “My Life”

Rhyme Sample: “What a feeling when them people tryna’ frame you. Lock you in a cell and detain you.”


Travi$ Scott Owl Pharaoh

Release Date: May 21, 2013

Description: Travi$ Scott recently released his debut album, Rodeo, and what better way to celebrate his success than going back in time to honor his first mixtape, Owl Pharaoh? Most people don’t know that Scott is responsible for many of the behind-the-scenes credits for the songs of several well-known artists including Kanye West, Wale, Big Sean, John Legend and Rihanna. Owl Pharaoh was Scott’s first time officially in the spotlight. The mixtape demonstrates Scott’s talent as a lyricist and producer. From the laid-back “Drive” to the vigorous “Bandz,” Travis experiments with his musical talent to develop the greatness that is Owl Pharaoh.

Top Tracks: “Quintana,” “Bandz,” “Hell of a Night”

Rhyme Sample: “It’s a hell of a night for Heaven’s sakes. All you see is mountain and clouds, can’t hit the brakes.”



Logic Young Sinatra: Undeniable

Release Date: May 1, 2012

Description: Over the past few years, Logic has been climbing his way to the top. He snatched a signing with Def Jam Recordings, and his first studio album Under Pressure debuted at number four on the Billboard 200 Chart in 2014. Young Sinatra: Undeniable includes eloquent tracks such as “Young Sinatra III,” and flat-out boastful tracks like “Tic Tac Toe” and “Disgusting.” Logic’s rough background is a strong influence on his music, noticeable in the expressive “I Made it” and the emotional “Inception.” What’s especially unique about Logic is his flow; he has a very smooth rap style and incorporates many instruments into his beats. His album is far from flashy, but focuses solely on the artistry of being a rapper.

Top Tracks: “Inception,” “Tic Tac Toe,” “Numbers”

Rhyme Sample: “I got a date with destiny. My heart says yeah, but can’t convince the rest of me.”

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