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Why Do Rappers Keep Calling Their Albums ‘Mixtapes’?

Mixtapes have an iconic status in hip-hop. Their roots lie in the bootleg tapes of early rap groups’ rehearsals and performances, impromptu recordings that felt about as commercially viable as taking audio of your family barbecue and passing the resulting tape around the neighborhood. The medium took a big step forward when DJs Brucie B and Ron G began to elevate the form, releasing must-listen “blend tapes.” DJs were soon competing to be the first to get songs fresh out of the studio (often by less-than-honest means), or become the exclusive purveyor of the latest freestyle. From there it was off to the races.

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