Friday, September 25, 2020

Keyzone Mixtape Culture

Beatmatched hip hop mixtapes containing remixes, voice-overs and freestyles (improvisational rapping) from established and upcoming rappers and sold illegally, have maintained a symbiotic relationship with the hip hop music industry since the genesis of the culture, despite mixtapes’ marauding ways
America’s Billboard Magazine reportedly published a story on October 12, 1974, divulging the trend of the day, where New York’s hip hop DJs recorded club performances and pre-recorded on tape sets that served as standbys in event of the DJ not having turntables at any given time.

These tapes where then sold on the street, through independent record dealers or through mail order, mainly relying on word of mouth to increase the artist’s street credibility.

Major record companies have sought and marketed the rappers through the hype generated through mixtapes.

According to a Billboard Magazine story published this September, multi-platinum selling rapper Eminem has launched artists signed to his Shady Records label via a mixtape disc and a past interview with MTV hip hop label, Roc-a-Fella CEO Damon Dash revealed Jay-Z initially featured on all mixtapes worth mentioning to garner the much sought after street credential.

Local hip hop promoter, Oarabile Tshukudu, visited Sunday Standard last week, to discuss Open Mic, a mixtape he is launching in November, which features about 18 rap artists, some of whom have worked with highly regarded local rappers such as Oracle and Diablo.

“The collaborating artists have been around, and have proved their mettle as rappers,” said Oarabile, in a calculated manner.

Open Mic, he hopes, will, “help in elevating hip hop music locally and it will cost a mere P35.”

“We hope to create a market for the unheard rappers and producers, who hail from Gaborone, Lobatse, Mahalapye and Phikwe. We have a Francistown based producer, Doc Shady, and have also featured two female rappers, Arche Dame and Liglycious from Gaborone.”

Apprehension rears her big head at the mention of ‘female rappers,’ are we about to have two more scantily clad girls jeering, debauchedly at our spouses? He assured me with a smile that both the ladies are “all about ‘skills,’” which, by the way, means ‘no they are dedicated rhyming battle-cats’ in hip hop speak.

The Open Mic Mixtape is technically a sampler. It carries only two characteristics of a ‘traditional’ hip hop mixtape, which are featured lamentations on the state of hip hop in interviews conducted by Oarabile and showcasing new rappers.

The beats rarely overlap or match. The sound quality could be better but is saved by the fact that mixtapes are generally not known to be of crystal sound quality.

Marlene, a past Sprite Rap Activity Jam champion, has brought forth a song aptly named ‘Drink’, which, unfortunately, is a few months late as it takes a jab at the contentious Liquor Act of months past.

Marlene is not the only artist who shines on Open Mic; many of the rappers are more than decent but it is easy to figure out their influences from their deliveries. They certainly served the complementary profanity. A video for the new single will be on local television towards end of November.

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