Our picks for the 20 best mixtapes of 2015.
This year, it became increasingly difficult to discern the difference between mixtapes and albums. When the year's bestselling rap release (Drake's If You're Reading This, It's Too Late) was announced as a "mixtape" but was immediately sold on iTunes, the waters become a little murky for everyone. Three more releases that were, for some reason or another, touted as tapes but sold as albums (Drake and Future's WATTBA, Young Thug's Barter 6, and Donnie Trumpet & The Social Experiment's SURF), were on our initial best mixtapes list, but then, due to the lack of availability in our "mixtapes" section, decided to count them all as albums. For the record, all of them made that year-end list.
As a result, our mixtapes list skews closer to the off-the-cuff, less serious type of release that originally encapsulated the definition. You might think that means more up and comers, but don't be so sure-- there are plenty of veterans who want to kick back and have a blast without the commercial concerns of an album. Beyond that, there are even some insanely well-curated EP-length tapes that make the argument for mixtapes as more bitesize (and even, in some cases, consistent) offerings than albums. Who knows if we'll even be talking about the format in the same way in twelve months.