Putting out an independent mixtape can be a struggle. Without strong label backing and promotion, the average rapper will have difficulty getting his music into your ears. Often a strong mixtape will go unnoticed, only to be stumbled upon years later. Some of these fit that description; others are just low-key. Either way, they’re all available free download, and it’s not like you can’t spare the bandwidth.
9. Woop – Woop Lingo
I don’t know much about Woop. He certainly picked a poor rap name, all things considered. His style is the product of the rise of Migos and Young Thug, to both of whom he is eternally indebted. Woop Lingo is a trap tape, pure and simple. The production is often enjoyable, and Woop tries to keep up. The only memorable guest spot here comes courtesy of PeeWee Longway, who’s own career began turning up around this time as well. Download it here.
8. DJ Esco & Future – No Sleep
When it was released, No Sleep received a fair amount of attention, mostly because of Future’s involvement. Now that future is on to bigger and, well, more popular things, No Sleep tends to be slept on when people think of his catalog. This mixtape features contributions from a selection of mostly up-and-comers, such as Young Scooter and Starlito, along with plenty of Future songs that rank among his best. Download it here.
7. DaVinci – The MOEna Lisa
The MOEna Lisa was my introduction to DaVinci, after I ignored my friends clamoring about him back in high school. Now I see where the hype originates. This free mixtape album is a Bay Area classic in the making, with gorgeous guest spots from Freddie Gibbs, Main Attrakionz and Freddie Gibbs. After listening to this, I decided to listen to everything else he’s done. It’s all good. Download it here.
6. Blu – Soul Amazing (Part Five)
Blu’s been a big name for years, every since Below the Heavens made him a household name back in 2007. Recently, his Soul Amazing series has provided an almost stream-of-consciousness perspective from the rapper, demonstrating his abilities and skills in a sexy environment. Part Five comes with production from The Alchemist, and features guests like Action Bronson, Planet Asia, Domo Genesis and Roc Marciano. We are humbled, Blu. Download it here.
5. 31 – Scale Tales
In terms of stupid names, “31” is pretty bad. It took a lot for me to get past the moniker, but it was good that I did. Scale Tales is a fiery trap tape with strong beats and verses to match. I won’t say too much about it; I’m a lazy writer. I’ll leave the verdict up to you. Download it here.
4. BlackHandPath – Obfuscant
Comparisons to other artists are unnecessary. I think the Bandcamp tags for Obfuscant say plenty: “art,” “noise,” “experimental hip-hop,” “harsh.” Couldn’t be more accurate. This Richmond based act came to my attention recently and I’d like it to come to your attention too. Download it here.
3. GrandeMarshall – Mugga Man
Hailing from the Philly of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, GrandeMarshall began turning hands in 2011 with his debut album 800. His gritty, street sound is devoid of pretension and does not try to fit in. Mugga Man is not just an enjoyable listen, it’s a callback to hip-hop’s REAL 90’s presence, not the popular image of 90’s hip-hop that’s been branded by major labels and popular artists. GrandeMarshall is Illadelphia at the city’s finest. Download it here.
2. Max B & Isaiah Toothtaker – Toothy Wavy
First and foremost, Free Max B. On this collaborative EP with Isaiah Toothtaker, Max defies the image he created with his endless stream of Public Domain mixtapes. Toothy Wavy is his most interesting and unique creation, a suggestion of his deep talents which now may never be realized. Max’s contributions were recorded by phone from prison, and the production comes via mashup fiends The Hood Internet. Free Max B. Download it here.
1. Boulevard Depo – Rapp
Just because I don’t understand it doesn’t mean I don’t like it. I don’t know a lot about Boulevard Depo so if you want to learn more, do it on your own terms. The Rapp EP is a Russian trap/cloud rap mixtape with impeccable production. The verses sound good, even if I have no clue what they’re about. This is a great thing to play loudly to make yourself seem interesting. Or just because it’s good. Listen to it here.