Favorite Rap Mixtapes of October 2018 From Illingsworth & Bambu to MihTy & Gangsta Boo

Gangsta Boo

With a cascade of releases spewing from the likes of DatPiff, LiveMixtapes, Bandcamp, and SoundCloud, it can be difficult to keep up with the overbearing yet increasingly vital mixtape game. In this column, we aim to immerse ourselves in this hyper-prolific world and share our favorite releases each month. The focus will primarily be on rap mixtapes — loosely defined here as free (or sometimes free-to-stream) digital releases — but we’ll keep things loose enough to branch out if/when we feel it necessary. (Check out last month’s installment here.)

Here at Tiny Mix Tapes, mixtapes are like Halloween handouts, which is to say we recommend continual and regular consumption of sweets, sours, and suckers balanced by physical activities including but not limited to picking and carving, taking long walks, and watching so many scary movies it becomes physically tasking. To wit, my list for the month so far includes: The Omen (1976), Damien: Omen II (1978), Omen III: The Final Conflict (1981), Season of the Witch (1972), The Man in the Orange Jacket (2014), Daughter of Horror (1955), Daybreakers (2009), Nightmare City (1980), Fear X (2003), The Town that Dreaded Sundown (1976), Shock (1946), Shock (1977), The Stuff (1985), Santa Sangre (1989), Neon Demon (2016), The Lost Boys (1987), and The Skeleton Key (2005). Therein, as below, audiences can discover numerous tricks and treats. It is, of course, our privilege to help pass along both as they’re equally essential, like ODB would say, “for the children.” And speaking of the little ones, let us not gloss over this month without acknowledging that it somehow brought out releases by no less than eight (!) established “Lil” rappers: B, Baby, Gnar, Jay So Icy, Mosey, Tracy, Xelly, and Wop. “The horror!”


Illingsworth - You’re No Fun

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Swerve past the skeptics and you’ll find that there still are scythe-tongued rappers and producers beholden to the unseen funk. Although rapper-producers are not rare, there are few today who manage such a fluid blend of sway and spitfire as my latest chiropractor, the Detroit-bred Illingsworth. While known mostly for his beats, the plunderer can kick some nerdy flex raps too; he was nonchalantly sipping on lemonade in a pirate’s fit, while you were busy teething on cockroaches. On his latest opal with Mello Music Group, You’re No Fun, Illingsworth’s pearly bounce is as live as ever. The lasting sapphire in the mix might just be “Wind (No Clues),” a “Love’s Gonna Get’cha”-esque ode to a young have-not, searching for a path where shards of systemic violence won’t sink into the soles. In the grubby fists of a lesser MC, the concept might ring out as corny. But in the studious grasp of Illingsworth, it feels as if the ghosts of SV sprinkled steez over construction gravel to help the whole damn thing glisten.


Kodie Shane - Stay Tuned …

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Some two years after stealing the show on the Sailing Team’s “All In,” Kodie Shane’s just about ready for her close-up. Young Heartthrob, her full-length debut, drops early November, meaning that Stay Tuned … is the last in a long line of EPs by which she has built a fanbase and a reputation, (mostly) escaping Lil Yachty’s shadow and establishing herself as an artist who deserves a spotlight of her own. Packed front-to-back with brand-name features, Stay Tuned … scans as a set of songs too pedestrian for the album but too expensive to discard entirely, less interesting for Rich the Kid’s continued interrogation of the phrase “dat way!” than for the promising glimpse it provides into Shane’s musical development since last year’s Back From the Future. I can’t imagine listening to this once Young Heartthrob is out, but I won’t be listening to anything else until then.


MihTy - MihTy

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Here you have it folks: the long-rumored, widely-anticipated eponymous collab between the foremost crooners in hip-hop. That’s right — Jeremih and Ty Dolla $ign have teamed up in true Rhythm-and-Blues Brothers fashion to give us MihTy, which apparently might have been completed as far back as 2017?? The original release was supposed to come August 2018, but, as happens so often these days, the drop date was pushed back to October. So, here we are! Dolla and ‘Mih apparently churned out some 60 songs in the studio, then picked out these 11 from said batch, which explains why this project doesn’t hit me as incredibly cohesive or focused on a particular idea, aside from, of course, romance, sex, and various forms of decadence. But if you know these two at all, that shouldn’t surprise you, and perhaps all that intimacy is exactly why you (and I) listen. It’s a solid and varied tape, with a good list of producers (exec. produced by Hitmaka, with appearances by Go Grizzly, Keyz, et al.) and suave harmonies. In a most satisfying way, it’s the tape I’d expect from the two — a wonderfully romantic, melodic, and smooth-hip-hop-R&B ditty to cuddle up with as the weather gets colder.


Bambu - Exrcising A Demon | Article 1 | A Few Left

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Filipino-American California MC Bambu has been kicking bloody street soliloquies as far back as the early 2000s and even released a critically acclaimed full-length collaboration with L.A. rap royalty’s DJ Muggs in 2010. However, if there’s ever been a moment better suited for this particular audio document, it must have occurred in some alternate timeline, because Exrcising A Demon | Article 1 | A Few Left arrives at a juncture that demands more than ever for stories of American immigrants and their children and the struggles they share to be told plainly, without glorification, political comment, or other modes of curated re-contextualization. The truth, like humanity, is brutal, war-torn even, but above all else, necessary. And if this release is truly the first in a five-part series, as the Bandcamp page describes, then Bambu and OJ The Producer have set the bar incredibly high for themselves out the gate. Clearly, though, this is a matter of both exercising and exorcising, show-and-prove a given.


Shy Glizzy - Fully Loaded

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For a couple years now, the Washington Wizards have stood pat in free agency, keeping their roster’s core intact in order to develop their existing players rather than compromising their identity in pursuit of new ones. Their horrific start to the current season aside, it’s worked pretty well; the John Wall era has been one of consistent success, salad days not only for Wall, but also for a host of young stars under his tutelage: Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, and most recently Kelly Oubre. Yet in their consistency, the Wizards have raised questions about untapped potential, about complacency in the face of the consistently “pretty good,” and about who is really to blame for a series of failed attempts to integrate new play styles and personalities. Luckily, rap isn’t basketball. Probably.


Lil B - Options

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Gangsta Boo & BeatKing - Underground Cassette Tape Music Vol. 2

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Being a consumer of contemporary “rap” music in 2018 without recognizing Gangsta Boo is a privilege. As a member of Three 6 Mafia, she helped collapse geographical and aesthetic distinctions between Southern rap, experimental horrorcore, and radio music without burying Memphis signifiers in common ground. Her new mixtape with Houston-hailing BeatKing is a conservation of both artists’ distinct regional styles, revealing by way of phonogeographical survey just how deep trap’s roots go. Fortunately, Underground Cassette Tape Music Vol. 2 is also a banger in its own right, reminding Migos fans why this historical primrose path was worth nourishing and following. Plus, remember Paul Wall, Danny Brown, and RiFF RAFF? They’re all on this, too. It’s a scary good time, so fly that you won’t even remember they’ve been doing this since before I could talk. If there ever were a laurel-draped whip, this whole crew has scrapped it for a brand new ride. And it bumps as hard as everything before it.


D Savage - D Phoenix

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I’m not entirely sure where D Savage came from, but “a neural network trained on 10,000 Soundcloud rappers” isn’t out of the question. Yet amidst opaque mythology — “3900,” “2700,” and a dozen variations of “Phoenix” reappear endlessly across songs and IG captions — and thoroughly ambiguous authorship, there’s an undeniable grasp of melody that refuses to be ignored. As often as not, it’s a mere moment; “What You Want” justifies its existence on the strength of half a hook alone. And that’s more than enough: with tracks rarely exceeding two minutes, D Savage’s best work is so immediate that it can’t even begin to wear out its welcome before its time to rewind. There’s little here that warrants repeated listens, but what sticks will be looping in my mind for months on end.

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