Mixtape Madness

A roundup hits and misses

Mixtape Madness

Lil Wayne, The Leak 6

He’s baaaaaaaaaaack, and he still doesn’t give a shit what he records or releases. It’s Planet Weezy from the get-go as the New Orleans megastar promises to “beat it like Johnny Cochran” through auto-tuned alien depiction “Can’t Miss” before launching into the saxophone-primed “So Fly.” Stick your hand in the pot and see what you pull out: the “A Milli” reminding “Breaktime,” the reggaeton stylings he shares with Sizzla on “Ten Years,” or the “Lollipop” drenched “Hot Revolver.” Leak 6 lacks the punch of Wayne’s mixtapes of old, before his own market became supersaturated. There’s nothing calling to mind the focus of “Did It Before” from Tha Carter III sessions or the straight up domination of a song like “Dough Is What I Got.” All that’s here is a collection any selective MC would have left on the cutting room floor.

Chamillionaire, Mixtape Messiah 6

With the final touches being put on third album Venom, the Houston hard-hitter’s been doing steady promotion since last summer through his Mixtape Messiah series. This installment finds Cham pitted against Lil Wayne for the distinction of “Best Rapper Alive” straight from the jump, boasting himself "the hardest rapper L.A. Reid didn’t sign.” Things get slinky H-Town style on “Mixtape Murder” before grabbing Mobb Deep’s “Shook Ones Pt. 2” beat on “The Evaluation.” With Pimp C’s untimely death in mind, Cham tries his own hand, both singing and rapping on UGK’s “One Day,” and does his best Lyfe Jennings on Bun B’s “You’re Everything.” Changing looks and focus much more seamlessly than Cham did on 2007’s Ultimate Victory, Mixtape Messiah 6 suggests that Venom could be a third LP with a mean bite.

Minty Fresh Beats, Jaydiohead

Pretty bum name for a DJ, but the lack of creativity is null once Jonny Greenwood’s droning guitar from “I Might Be Wrong” splices with American Gangster’s “Pray.” Jaydiohead’s a tighter blend than DJ Danger Mouse’s breakout Grey Album, in which the prolific producer mixed Jay’s Black with the Beatles’ White. Intricacies notwithstanding, the track names say it all. Piece together the puzzle: “Wrong Prayer,” “99 Anthems,” “No Karma,” “Lucifer Jigsaw,” “Optimistic Moment,” “Dirt Off Your Android,” “Dreaming Up,” “Change Order,” “Fall In Step,” "Ignorant Swan.” It’s available for download at www.jaydiohead.com.

The Notorious B.I.G, Unbelievable: The Notorious Edition

Mick Boogie’s successful Unbelievable mixtape popped up two years ago, but attention surrounding the premiere of Notorious prompted Mick to hook up with Terry Urban and Diddy for a rare mixtape reissue. This lot’s much like the first, with lyrics stripped from Biggie’s Ready to Die, Life After Death, and Born Again and teamed with contributions from Clipse (“Blow”), Kanye West (“Kicks Open Doors”), and a who’s who of East Coast hip-hop. Highlights include the Jay-Z collabo “Brooklyn Go Hard,” a Kanye-produced track originally put together for Jay despite its being spot-on for a voice like B.I.G’s, the stripped-down but mostly untouched “Flava In Ya Ear” with Craig Mack and LL Cool J, and a new remix of “Machine Gun Funk,” produced by DJ Premier and featuring Redman.

Charles Hamilton, The Best of the Hamiltonization Process

This is actually a compilation of a mixtape series that the Harlem-born Charles Hamilton and DJ Skee released monthly in 2008. Some of the cohesiveness found on the five installments is lost with this collected work, but The Best offers an excellent look at a creative and accessible rapper set to show up in a big way at South by Southwest this year. Except for “Windows Media Player,” which creatively pulls its beat from a series of Vista sound bytes while hyping his charleshamilton.blogspot.com, The Best sticks strictly to sampling popular music (The Outfield’s “Your Love” gets twisted on “Theories of Wine,” and Rihanna’s “Shut Up and Dance” propels “Lemme Know”) and J Dilla. “Waterworks,” “What’s Going On,” and “The Bermuda Triangle” find the multi-voiced rapper spitting, scatting, and shouting over beats taken directly from 2006’s Donuts.

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Mixtapes, Lil Wayne, Chamillionaire, Charle Hamilton, Notorious B.I.G.

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