Mixtape Shmixtape

In which we review Yay Area mixtapes of the day

The Bay Area mixtape trade got its feet wet last year, and 2006 is already shaping up to be a serious pool party. We can expect full-length album previews, new artists' introductions, and all-around classics to be compiled onto discs that really represent our diverse, local hip hop flavor. And at a fraction of the cost of a normal CD (usually about $5 to $10), mixtapes are a low-risk way to sample various hip hop offerings before you plunk down for an official release. You'd do well to start with examples such as these:

DJ Rick Lee
Throw Backs and Smoke Session
(Cartier Entertainment)
Rick Lee has a coveted on-air DJ gig at KMEL, where his stylish and smooth continuous mixes provide a brief daily respite from the endless loop of corporate thuggin'. Throw Backs and Smoke Session is an audible Cliff's Notes that'll allow you to pretend like you're an expert in the classics of danked-up Yay Area hip hop. (Hint: Always talk about your love for Keak Da Sneak from back in his days with 3XKrazy, rather than admitting this is the first you've heard of him.) Throw Backs also includes a bonus disc with up-and-comers Fendi Boyz holding their own over well-known beats.

Ren the Vinyl Archaeologist
Electric Kingdom
(True Skool)
Renoir Salgado is one of the Bay Area's pre-eminent hip hop event promoters and DJs. This mixtape is a set of full-on anthems from Herbie Hancock, Coldcut, Arthur Baker, Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five, and Afrika Bambaataa & the Soul Sonic Force, to name a handful. Like James Brown says here, it's superbad.

DJ Vinroc
So Much Soul Volume 2
(Triple Threat)
Vinroc is one-third of the unfuckwitable Triple Threat DJs (with Apollo and Shortkut) and can be found playing at least once a month at local DJ bar Milk. These guys aren't musical sissies -- they're unafraid to search far and wide for the funk. The So Much Soul series is a great example: Volume 2 sizzles with a hip hop-savvy blend of artists like Isaac Hayes, Sade, Steel Pulse, and D'Angelo. Rappers such as Slum Village, Kanye West, and Mos Def are in the mix as well to provide the rhymes.

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