The mixtape is one of the most important tools in hip-hop, because it is one of the only elements of hip-hop that hasn’t been completely taken over by the industry. The streets anxiously anticipate every new mixtape from big-name DJs like DJ Clue, DJ KaySlay, and DJ Whoo Kid, because these CDs are like the Newsweek’s and Time’s of the hip-hop world. They update listeners on the most recent beefs between artists, helps create anticipation for upcoming artists, and gives listeners new material to bump between album releases. Some DJs get songs before everyone else does, dub the tracks as “exclusives” and establish reputations for themselves as the hottest DJs to check for.
However, recent years have shown a decline in the actual mixing aspect of mixtapes. Originally, mixtapes were used as resumes for DJs to enter battles, where they’d pit their turntablist skills against other DJs and earn credibility among the hip-hop community, similar to MC battles. Nowadays, DJs rely too much on the big names on their mixtapes and just play song after song, instead of actually exhibiting their DJing capabilities by scratching and blending the tracks together. This has virtually transformed the definition of a “DJ” in hip-hop, from someone who knew how to mix and blend into a disc jockey who can get the hottest songs before anyone else.
Virginia’s DJ A-Beats and Double J, however, haven’t forgotten their DJing roots. Their mixtape “From 1 Generation 2 The Next” is so beautifully blended from song to song, that the CD almost sounds like a mixtape from back in the day; the disc is even split into two sections, one for each DJ, virtually resembling an actual battle. While this may not seem like a big deal, it’s refreshing to actually hear DJs show their turntablist skills instead of just playing tracks and yelling their names over them.
Make no mistake though, “From 1 Generation” still fulfills the job requirements that the current mixtape has to. Ghostface’s blazing collabo with Jadakiss, “Run,” will undoubtedly get the streets anxious for Ghostface’s “Pretty Toney” album, M.O.P. will create anticipation for their Rocafella debut with “Always On The Run”, and the unnamed track with Kanye West and Common (also featuring Malik Yusef, though uncredited) will add even more to the Kanye-mania that’s already sweeping the industry. Listeners are also treated to tracks from up and coming stars like Encore (who’s new album “Layover” is so incredible that it must be mentioned) and G-Unit’s Game, with “Essentially Yours” and “It’s So Hard,” respectively. No-name artists like Douljah Raze and Nailz contribute freestyles hoping to establish a buzz, and even Blackmoon and Kardinal Offishall show up with new tracks on this mixtape.
Though a few of the DJ remixes don’t work out (Mos Def’s verse from “Two Words” to Kanye’s “Through the Wire” beat don’t fit together well), this mixtape is a definite success. Combining the qualities of the modern-day mixtape with turntablist skills that seem to have faded away with DJs from the past, the name “From 1 Generation 2 The Next” is quite appropriate; this release will appeal to DJ fans and normal rap fans alike.