If you’re interested in hip-hop, there are some great mixtapes that you have to check out.
The concept of mixtapes began when cassette tapes were mainstream, and listeners would piece one together containing all of their favorite artists using recordings from the radio.
Today, a mixtape is usually used by new artists to introduce themselves.
They are often used to create hype in the lead-up to an album release and contain just a few new hits or even a mash-up of already-loved songs.
While mixtapes are not limited by genre, they are commonly used in hip-hop and gangsta rap to create buzz.
This article contains the twenty best hip-hop mixtapes of all time, to introduce you to the wonder of mixtapes.
Enjoy our list of the best hip-hop mixtapes of all time!
1. Beast Mode by Future
American rapper Future released Beast Mode in 2015, with the production assistance of Zaytoven.
It is his fourteenth mixtape and is part of a trilogy that followed. It has certainly earned its spot on this list, earning itself the sequel Beast Mode 2 in 2018.
It has nine tracks, including the hit “Oooooh” which featured Young Scooter.
The mixtape was met with great critical acclaim, earning a rating of eighty-one out of one hundred by Metacritic and often being cited as one of Future’s best ever.
2. Da Drought 3 by Lil Wayne
Da Drought 3 is the third mixtape in Lil Wayne’s trilogy, released in 2007.
It was his sixth mixtape overall and contains two discs.
The mixtape as a whole features thirty-three samples from other hip-hop artists.
Lil Wayne stated that there originally weren’t supposed to be two discs, but he didn’t realize how many songs had been recorded.
This meant that the mixtape’s release was delayed since he wanted to record even more.
3. Back from the Dead by Chief Keef
Chief Keef’s second mixtape Back from the Dead, which was released in 2012, was produced by Young Chop and hosted by DJ Victoriouz and DJ Moondawg.
The mixtape landed at number seventy-three on the US Billboard Hot 100,
One of the reasons it proved so popular was the guest appearances from huge hip-hop names such as Lil Reese, King Louie, Soulja Boy, SD, Johnny May Cash, and Yale Lucciani.
It was even named by DatPiff as the eleventh-best mixtape of 2012.
4. Drilluminati by King Louie
Drilluminati by King Louie has been cited as one of the best mixtapes to ever come out of the Chicago drill scene, which has been rising in popularity over the last few years.
The 2012 mixtape contains ten tracks, and finishes on a high note with “Val Venis”.
The hit song is one of King Louie’s best to date, being named the ninety-second best song of 2012 by Pitchfork. Drilliuminati contains a mixture of freestyles and written rap and is known by many as one of his best.
5. Friday Night Lights by J. Cole
Friday Night Lights by North Carolina rapper J. Cole was released in 2010 as his third official mixtape.
It contains all original material, but originally was supposed to contain his previous freestyles and leaks and was to be titled ‘Villematic’.
The mixtape received ten out of ten reviews from AllHipHop and even won Best Mixtape of the Year at the BET Hip Hop Awards in 2011.
It contains some collaborations with big names, including “In the Morning” featuring Drake and the bonus track “Looking for Trouble” by Kanye West, featuring J. Cole himself, Pusha T, CyHi Da Prynce, and Big Sean.
6. 1999 by Joey Bada$$
Joey Bada$$ released his debut mixtape in 1999 in 2012, with production by Chuck Strangers, Lewis Parker, Lord Finesse, MF DOOM, J Dilla, and more.
It was released as a prequel to 2000, his upcoming album at the time.
At the time, Joey Bada$$ was a member of the hip-hop crew Pro Era, and the mixtape features solo guest appearances from the members.
It remains one of the most widely critically acclaimed mixtapes of the decade and started his career with a bang.
7. T.R.U. REALigion by 2 Chainz
T.R.U. REALigion is 2 Chainz’s seventh mixtape, released in 2011.
It has received over one million downloads on DatPiff – a mixtape streaming site – and received moderately good critical acclaim.
While the mixtape itself didn’t chart, it introduced multiple hits that did, including “Riot” which reached number fifteen on the US Bubbling Under Hot 100 and number fifty-four on the US Hot R&B/HIp Hop Songs chart.
8. Kush and OJ by Wiz Khalifa
Wiz Khalifa released Kush and OJ as his eighth mixtape in 2010.
It immediately rose to popularity, becoming the top trending topic on Google and Twitter at the time.
He stated that his aim was for the mixtape to be “perfect for wake and bake”.
It contains twenty tracks and features Demi Lovato, Alborosie, Curren$y, and Big K.R.I.T to name a few.
9. Y.R.N by Migos
Y.R.N (Young Rich Niggas) is Migos’ third mixtape, released in 2013.
It quickly grew in popularity when it was released, reaching number seventy-four on the US Billboard Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums chart.
The mixtape features a lot of big artists, including Gucci Mane, Riff Raff, Trinidad James, and a bonus track with Soulja Boy.
It brought us the single “Versace” which ended up on many year-end lists in 2013 and charted in four different charts in the United States.
10. Revenge by XXXTENTACION
Revenge was XXXTENTACION’s second and final mixtape, released in 2017.
It contains seven tracks which were each available previously on his SoundCloud account for streaming.
Salute Magazine gave it a rare five out of five reviews.
The mixtape was extremely successful, selling over five hundred thousand copies in the United States and ten thousand in Denmark.
It also charted in Canada, Denmark, Finland, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, and the United States.
Most of the mixtape’s popularity came after XXXTENTACION’s murder in 2018, where it reentered the charts in the United States at twenty-eight, forty-eight places higher than it reached previously.
11. K.I.D.S by Mac Miller
Mac Miller released K.I.D.S, which stands for Kickin’ Incredibly Dope Shit, in 2010 as his fourth mixtape.
The title of the mixtape references and is inspired by the 1995 film Kids. Upon release, it reached number sixty-two on the US Billboard 200.
The mixtape has proved influential, with rapper Logic saying that the fourteenth track “Kool-Aid & Frozen Pizza” inspired him to release his debut mixtape.
It wasn’t commercially released until 2020 and was originally only available on DattPiff.
12. The Mixtape About Nothing by Wale
The Mixtape About Nothing is Wale’s fourth mixtape, released in 2008 as a collaboration with a New York streetwear brand for a free download.
The eighties/nineties television show Seinfeld was Wale’s inspiration, and the mixtape samples the show extensively.
The mixtape follows Seinfeld’s episode naming structure, with each track title beginning with ‘the’.
Wale even uses many of the show’s catchphrases and plots and eventually received a rating of eight and a half out of ten from RapReviews.com
13. Finally Famous by Big Sean
Big Sean released his debut mixtape Finally Famous in 2011 on Kanye West’s record label GOOD Music and Def Jam Recordings, a Universal Music Group label.
Kanye was the only executive producer on the mixtape, and eventually, two sequels were released.
The mixtape immediately put Big Sean on the map, selling over one million copies in the United States and receiving a Platinum certification from the Recording Industry Association of America.
It soared to number two on the US Top R&B/ Hip Hop Albums chart and number three on the US Billboard 200.
14. Cloud 9 by B.o.B
Cloud 9 was released by American rapper and producer B.o.B in 2007 as his second mixtape.
It was released the same year as his debut mixtape Future and proved more popular.
B.o.B self-released it without the help of a record label, and it was the first of many successful mixtapes.
15. Dreamchasers by Meek Mill
Meek Mill released Dreamchasers as his eighth mixtape in 2011 as a prequel to Dreamchasers 2 which followed the next year.
It contains nineteen tracks, with guest appearances from hip-hop stars such as Rick Ross, Young Chris, and Beanie Sigel.
It has been cited by many as the release that caused the anticipation for Meek Mill’s real debut.
It brought two very popular singles, “House Party” featuring Young Chris and “Ima Boss” featuring Rick Ross.
16. Acid Rap by Chance the Rapper
Acid Rap is Chance the Rapper’s second mixtape, released in 2013.
It soared to number sixty-three on the US Billboard Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums chart upon its release and amassed over one million downloads on DatPiff.
It re-entered charts in 2019 at number three and number five on the US Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums chart and the US Billboard 200 respectively.
That same year, Pitchfork named it the eighty-fourth best album of the decade.
17. Crenshaw by Nipsey Hussle
Crenshaw was released in 2013 as Nipsey Hussle’s eighth official mixtape.
It entered the charts immediately, reaching number thirty-five on the US Billboard Heatseekers Albums chart and number thirty-four on the US Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums chart.
It was named the second-best mixtape of 2013 by XXL and proved to be one of Nipsey Hussle’s most popular mixtapes.
It features several hip-hop artists, including Rick Ross, Dom Kennedy, Slim Thug, Z-Ro, Sade, and Skeme.
18. Bastard by Tyler, the Creator
Tyler, the Creator released Bastard as his debut mixtape in 2009.
It is technically a mixtape due to its online release, however, the rapper himself refers to it as his debut studio album.
It contains fifteen songs and features artists such as Casey Veggies, Earl Sweatshirt, Jasper Dolphin, Domo Genesis, and Hodgy Beats.
The critical acclaim was positive overall, and it was ranked at number thirty-two on Pitchfork’s Top 50 Albums of 2010 list.
19. LIVE.LOVE.A$AP by A$AP Rocky
LIVE.LOVE.A$AP is A$AP Rocky’s debut mixtape, released in 2011 and featuring rappers SchoolBoy Q, Fat Tony, and members of the hip-hop collective ASAP Mob.
This is the mixtape to listen to if you’re into Southern hip-hop!
The mixtape charted in Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Norway, France, Lithuania, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Switzerland, and the United States.
Stereogum ranked it as the ninth-best mixtape of 2011.
20. Beam Me Up Scotty by Nicki Minaj
Beam Me Up Scotty is Nicki Minaj’s third mixtape, released in 2009 with guest appearances from Drake, Gucci Mane, Busta Rhymes, Mack Maine, Gudda Gudda, Jae Millz, and Lil Wayne.
The mixtape proved successful for Minaj, reaching number two on both the US Billboard 200 and the US Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums charts.
It also charted in eight other countries around the world and received excellent reviews from critics.
Best Hip-Hop Mixtapes of All Time – Final Thoughts
That was the best twenty hip-hop mixtapes of all time!
Many of these were curated by artists as an introduction to their music, or simply to tide fans over before a big album release.
We hope you enjoyed checking out these mixtapes, and the amazing hip-hop artists that produced them.
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