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 "If you're a real rapper, you don't have to make a record for the radio or something for MTV." ...

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 While the "real" music business is crumbling, the mixtape industry is thriving ...

Page 3

 P. Diddy says labels don't have the heart to put out new artists anymore ...

Page 4

 50 Cent's mixtape success leads to record-breaking chart debut ...

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 "Distributing mixtapes is illegal, man!" ...

Mixtape History

 Grandmaster Flash and Afrika Bambaataa get the party started.

Classic Mixtapes

 Five mixtapes that changed the game.

Before We Had A Clue

 DJ Clue tells how he first became cool with some of hip-hop's most acclaimed line rippers.

 DJ Clue's Photo Album

Mixtape Mondays Archive

 For complete coverage of mixtape culture.

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"Peace to Ron G, Brucie B, Kid Capri, Funkmaster Flex, Lovebug Starsky." - Notorious B.I.G. from "Juicy"

Mixtapes have been around just about as long as hip-hop has, only they weren't called "mixtapes" back in the 1970s, they were known as "party tapes." They were born for the same reason mixtapes thrive today: the need to feed the streets.

In the mid '70s, people loved partying in the clubs so much they had to take the jam with them to their homes or cars. Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, Afrika Bambaataa and the Soulsonic Force, Kool Herc and the Herculoids, DJ Breakout, the Funky Four and DJ Hollywood were among the most popular crews of that era that prospered not only from their DJing gigs, but from the recordings they made of the gigs.

  "Tapes of these guys' live performances sold like [regular] albums ..." - DMC
"Mixtapes go way back, before rap records was made," an animated DMC of Run-DMC recalled. "The tapes of these guys' live performances sold like [regular] albums are selling now. If you think about it, Flash and them been platinum. Cold Crush Brothers would have had platinum records and they would have them on their wall right now, but back in the day there was no rap records."

"It was a combination of doing customized tapes and then there were the tapes I used to do of my performances with my group at regular parties," explained Grandmaster Flash, who started making his tapes in 1973 and credits himself, Kool Herc and Afrika Bambaataa as the originators of mixtapes.

Consumers had to be ready to empty their pockets if they wanted a Grandmaster Flash tape — the DJ would charge a dollar a minute for cassettes that ran anywhere from 30 to 120 minutes. He would compile the hottest music at the time, and then continuously shout out the tape purchaser's name using an echo sound effect.

"The people that was buying my customized tapes were the scramblers, the dealers, people that had money," Flash explained. "I was making a couple thousand dollars a month, easy, just doing this."

In addition to these made-to-order tapes for specific clients he would run across in the streets, Grandmaster Flash also established a steady business with livery cab drivers.

  "The people that was buying my customized tapes were the scramblers, the
dealers ..." - Grandmaster Flash
"The cab drivers had these fancy cars, and there was this thing called the 'Hold Call,' " he said. "A Hold Call is where a person who had some money would want to get into this particular vehicle and do just basically nothing, sort of just ride around for hours and hours. If [the driver] had the hottest tape he would get all the Hold Calls across the [taxi dispatcher's] radio."

Like Flash, Brucie B, who carried on the mixtape tradition into the mid-to-late '80s, made his tapes by recording his DJ sets. He was the main attraction at the legendary hip-hop club Harlem's Rooftop.

"I used to play everything, hip-hop, Mardi Gras, reggae, slow jams, jazz," B said, "anything that had a nice little groove to it."

Harlem native Damon Dash frequented the Rooftop as a teen. "Every Friday you went to the Rooftop and roller-skated. Dudes was dancing, they was roller-skating with their minks on. But the thing with Brucie B is back then, a lot of the highlights [on the tapes] were the shout-outs. I gave him $20 to give me a shout-out once. He said my name and I was happy. I'd rewind it to that part every time I picked a chick up."

NEXT: Brucie B sells his TDKs and makes $100 a block, the ascent of DJ Clue, and Ron G goes from mixtapes to producing J. Lo ...
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Photo: Johnny Nunez

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