Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The 5 best (free) rap mixtapes of 2010

Posted By on Wed, Dec 15, 2010 at 8:40 AM

Das Racist
  • Das Racist
Until a few years ago, I don't think I entirely understood that rappers -- great rappers, even -- had taken to making entire records and just giving them away on the internet, for free, calling them "mixtapes." And that there were sites, like DatPiff and HipHopDX that consolidated the best of them. The internet is incredible. 

Here are five free hip-hop albums (national, not local) released this year that are well worth the five or six minutes it takes to download them. 



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T.I.'s 2010 started out behind bars, and will end with him back behind bars, but in between he dropped a ferocious comeback single ("I'm Back") and a loose, swaggering, and supremely confident mixtape. The theme is kind of stupid -- every other song, a guest asks Tip why somebody as successful as he would bother with a lowly mixtape -- but it doesn't matter. Throughout, he casually clowns his haters, snarls at fools, and generally demonstrates why he's one of the two or three best rappers in the universe. Download.


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Freddie Gibbs' story -- major label reject returns to shitty hometown (Gary, IN) and becomes mixtape sensation -- is a pitch-perfect narrative, so it's not totally surprising that he's become something of a darling among webby tastemakers. But Gibbs has got game to back it up: his '90s gangsta rap sound is hardcore in all the right ways, and on his best tracks, it's hard to believe a human voice is capable of sounding so fast and so smooth at the same time. Download

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Yelawolf, Trunk Muzik

"Pop the Trunk" is the best track on Trunk Muzik, in large part because of how terrifying it is. Yelawolf is a white-boy rapper from Alabama, and "Pop the Trunk" feels like a modern-day hip-hop response to the Deliverance banjo -- disturbing alienation and violence lurking just beneath the surface, ready to explode. It should appeal to fans of Rhymesayers, and it might even appeal to fans of Alabama -- the band Alabama. I mean that in a good way. Download

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Gucci Mane, Burrprint 2 HD

Gucci Mane has rapped his way through something like 25 mixtapes in the past half-decade. The ones I've heard range from semi-bad bad to slightly above average, but Burrprint 2 HD (along with Movie 3: The Burrprint!) finds Gucci mastering his aesthetic, if you can call bragging about jewelry and making fun of other people's jewelry an aesthetic (I do). Nobody is rapping smarter about dumber stuff than Gucci Mane. Download

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Das Racist made not only my favorite mixtape of the year, but my favorite album of the year, period. Until this summer, most of us knew them as the guys responsible for "Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell," a song whose only lyrics are: I'm at the Pizza Hut / I'm at the Taco Bell / I'm at the combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell. Its simplicity was humorous and maybe even kind of genius, but it definitely didn't hint at the fact that these dudes are capable of writing mind-blowing rap lyrics -- which they totally are. 

The takeaway from Sit Down, Man (and, to a lesser extent, their other 2010 mixtape, Shut Up, Dude) is that Das Racist are not only hilarious rap culture obsessives, they're pretty great rappers themselves. I'm not wavy / Man I'm an ocean is both a clever reference to The Game's song and a clever rap boast, and this tape is absolutely cluttered with that type of fare. Pair it with legit production and beats (Chairlift, Teengirl Fantasy, Keepaway, and Diplo all contribute on Sit Down, Man) and it veers into something like an unstoppable force. Best of all, it's free -- at least for now. Download.  

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