Hip-Hop started out in the park and so did the mixtape, which has become a valuable tool to for artists looking to make a name and a cornerstone of how we consume music. Initially created as a way to document and relive the now-historic park jams that took place during the late-’70s and the early-’80s, the mixtape eventually evolved into an unauthorized collection of loose songs compiled by local DJs.
Getting your music out to the fans is paramount for artists of all genres, but being that it came from humble beginnings, a majority of the genre’s earliest talents didn’t have the resources to manufacture and distribute their music to a mainstream audience. The DJ acted as a buffer between the listener and the artist, serving as an A&R of sorts while curating the latest tunes that were worth hearing for the fans’ enjoyment.
The ’90s were a glorious time for mixtapes, with names like Ron G, Kid Capri, DJ Screw, and DJ Clue all helping to improve the state of the rap game, but it would be the arrival of the new millennium that would usher in a new era and alter the way we look at the mixtape. The rappers who couldn’t get a record deal–or the ear of a reputable DJ–began to press up their own demos of rough cuts they’d recorded and have the tapes circulate throughout their town and beyond, helping to build their reputation through word of month.
This trend would impact hip-hop and the music industry as a whole, and result in a decade of rivalries, beef, and timeless music. In celebration of all the historic events that took place during the first decade of the new millennium, we’ve compiled a list of 20 Unforgettable Mixtape Moments from the ’00s that changed the game. Get your tape decks ready.