Legendary hip-hop group De La Soul announced on Tuesday that their back catalog will finally reach streaming services. The release will include Soul’s first six albums. 3 Feet High and Rising, De La Soul Is Dead, Buhloone Mindstate, Stakes Is High, Art Official Intelligence: Mosaic Thump, and AOI: Bionix. The trio’s heavy use of samples had complicated a release to this point.
The March 3rd release date for these celebrated albums got us thinking about our favorite hip-hop projects that are not available for streaming. Coming from the mixtape era may have our view skewed, but here are the 5 projects we need on Spotify yesterday. For now, shoutouts to mixtapemonkey & datpiff.
You can find bits and pieces of Fab’s 2011 The Soul Tape scattered across Spotify, but without classics like Wolves in Sheeps Clothing or Yall Dont Hear Me Tho, it just doesn’t quite hit right. The Soul Tape trilogy saw Loso obliterate classic beats from artists ranging from 2Pac to J.Cole, Wiz Khalifa to Lil Kim. A wealth of punchlines and Fab’s rugged, yet approachable sound make The Soul Tape an enduring project that we’d love to revisit on streaming services.
A staple of college DJ playlists in the early 2010s, Big Sean’s mixtape Finally Famous Vol. 3 remains our favorite body of work in his discography. Bolstered by Don Cannon’s empyrean narration, Sean Don is charismatic, energetic, and lyrical. From highs like Meant To Be, Home Town, and Too Fake to emotionally charged and authentic Memories Big Sean shows incredible range. All while honoring Detroit to the fullest.
There was a time when many pundits, bloggers, and music fans put Wale and J.Cole on a similar trajectory. 2011 felt like the height of his power, and The Eleven One Eleven Theory was one of the most balanced tapes of the era. Blending and sampling Go-go, using a wide array of metaphors relating to athletics, and pushing modern black issues to the forefront with honesty and insight make Wale special to this day. Heavy hitters like Bait, Barry Sanders, and Fuck You remain in our rotation to this day. What a gift this vibrant project would bring to streaming services.
THE DROUGHT IS OVER 2 is our generation’s childhood, embodied. So many first blunts lit to this tape. So many hours ballin’ on the blacktop with classics like Kush, LA LA LA and I’m A Beast blaring through the speakers. And of course, the irrefutable force of a record like I Feel Like Dying. THE DROUGHT IS OVER 2 was initially supposed to contain several records from Wayne’s album The Carter III, which were leaked by The Empire. Whatever the case, this body of work sees Wayne at his absolute best, at a time when the game desperately needed him.
Two of the greatest mixtapes of all time. Period. Cole’s inconceivable talent, lyrical genius, and congenial mic persona started here. Long before he was a global icon. A combination of classic beats from other artists, and self-produced brilliance, both mixtapes show a level of lyricism and songwriting that have stood strong over time. Two of the most cohesive projects of the mixtape era, complete with soul samples and an underdog story. An equation that was destined for success. Streaming Services will not feel complete until both tapes are included.