Mixtapes are like opinions. Everyone has one, but not all of them matter.

Your mixtape should be a totally uninhibited creative space. A platform where you can impulsively exhibit your talent for a more focused and passionate audience. The mixtape is a very reliable vehicle for hip-hop, especially in the digital era where free information spreads feverishly. In some cases, artists give away music that is significantly more awesome than their commercial releases. It just depends.  

Time and place matter. They matter for the artist. They matter for the listener. Every once in a while, these intersecting variables between artist and listener produce extremely valuable products and experiences, all starting with a great mixtape.

With that, here are ten artists that capitalized off their mixtapes. Please note this is not a "complete" list of every artist that's ever blown up off a mixtape, but rather ten extremely notable ones.