Freestyles to free albums:the songs that got us there
I-95 by Styles P
I imagine if you bumped into 50 cent he would not only claim to have created the modern mixtape but the stapler and the cotton gin. In reality 50 used mixtapes to become popular which is how they were always used. He crafted his freestyles into songs but hot freestyles had put artists on before. Styles P is just as important for the history of mixtapes because by the time he became a mixtape hall of famer he had already been a part of the platinum selling 2nd Lox album We Are The Streets in 2000(considered by many a classic) and put out his own supremely impressive Gangster and a Gentleman album in 2002. He had a clear route to mainstream success but instead he went on one of the single best mixtape runs any artist has had, with tapes that all had Ghost in the title. This song is from Ghost in a Shell in 2006 and it’s a smash. Tray Williams lays an extremely heartfelt chorus and Styles raps about air freshener and saying goodbye to his kids to go sell drugs on a road trip. Styles didn’t have to go back to the mixtape game but he knew what artists after him figured out. He could do whatever he wanted. A song like I-95 that an A & R might not understand and shoot down can be given directly to your audience and those are the ones that will have your back when your label won’t.