Making mixtapes is a daunting, competitive field that requires real creativity to stand out from the pack. It's not always enough to have prereleased tracks or a big-name artist hosting the session. Those who turn left as others go right earn the opportunity to cultivate a following outside of the insanely dedicated.
Morse Code & J. Nougat Hard Crack Candy (www.myspace.com/deejaymorsecode)
Hard Crack Candy blends Dirty South and West Coast hip-hop beats — as well as artists like Luther Vandross, Sam Cooke, and Nina Simone — with confectionary favorites from the Oompah-Loompahs and their brethren to deflect what DJs Morse Code and J. Nougat call the “now-n-later haterz.” Even Dave Chappelle's infamous “Doo Doo Baby” comedy bit gets the club-worthy rework here. Mixtapes never sound so sweet, and rarely are they so conceptually clever.
Also recommended: Kaz Kyzah The Go-Fessional (bigvon.com)
One-third of Oakland rap group The Team flexes his lyrical skill and smoldering tone, performing such feats of wonder as collaborating with the late Notorious B.I.G., which can't be too easy. Also, the price is unbeatable: free to download.
DJ E-Rock Welcome to the U.S. of Bay (www.myspace.com/djerock) The host of “Bomb Bay Radio” (Mondays from 9 p.m. to midnight on Sirius Satellite Radio's “Hip-Hop Nation” channel) is a surefire bet when it comes to mixtapes. He's one of the few local DJs able to earn major respect on the national mixtape scene, and this set is overflowing with exclusive artist freestyles and soon-to-be Yay Area hits.
Get in the mix! Send your mixtapes, and maybe we'll review 'em: Mixtape Shmixtape c/o Jennifer Maerz SF Weekly 185 Berry Street, Lobby 4 Suite 3800 San Francisco, CA 94107