What is a mixtape? The answer might be uncertain in 2023 when albums, mixtapes, playlists, and “projects” all seem interchangeable. But Paramount Plus is looking to break down the format with its new documentary, Mixtape. Featuring interviews with mixtape legends like Lil Wayne, Jadakiss, ASAP Rocky, The Game, and many, many more, the doc attempts to define what the mixtape has meant to hip-hop for the past 50 years and track its evolution from actual, physical tapes, to downloads and streams blowing up careers. Check out the trailer above.
The part I find myself looking forward to most is DJ Drama‘s recollection of the 2005 police raid that upended hip-hop’s mixtape subculture after the Recording Industry Association of America became desperate to stem the tide of illegal downloads and rampant bootlegging. Drama was accused of racketeering, which he says in a clip in the Mixtape trailer made him “more famous than I ever was.” (You can read a little bit more about that incident here.)
Mixtape‘s August 1 release date is perfectly timed to join the ongoing Hip-Hop 50 celebrations currently going on, which include The Criterion Channel streaming classic hip-hop films, Sony Music dropping a compilation of its 50 years of contributions to the culture, and Mass Appeal’s producer EPs by Swizz Beatz and DJ Premier.