State of the Streets: Drake Talks Mixtapes

On Mondays, we usually bring you our main pick, but we had to start this week by saluting mixtapes. We're proud that so many MCs are stepping their mixtape game up. The mixtape world is strong, potent and competitive right now.

This year alone, we've seen Fabolous, Wiz Khalifa, Jim Jones and Asher Roth drop product off in the streets and the Internet. The next few weeks are going to be flooded with ferocity, with Young Jeezy, the Game, T.I. and Rick Ross, just to name a few, dropping soon. Long live the underground!

We asked Drake — the guy with the biggest mixtape of the past few years, So Far Gone — what he thought about the state of mixtapes right now. He said everyone has to come with their best.

"I think that when creating a mixtape, you have to approach it with a selfless mind-set," Drake told us. "A mixtape can't be the songs that don't make your album, or songs that aren't good enough to make your album make your mixtape — unless you're that good. There aren't that many people that are that good. I'm not that good. That mixtape [So Far Gone] is me working my hardest. It wasn't 'Oh, here are the songs I'm gonna give away to you 'cause I have better songs coming.' A mixtape has become an album.

"Before, I remember people used to be in the studio cutting songs, and they would be like, 'Oh, that song is OK. I'll just put it on my mixtape,' " he added. "Now a mixtape is an actual tool. It's a format you need. You don't necessarily need it, but it can be useful. Like with Fab and the other guys, I know they do a lot of rapping on other guys' beats. It's hard to tour like that, as incredible as it may be. Now Wayne, when the No Ceilings set comes on, it's ridiculous. It's hard to rap over other people's songs and have it be timeless. With So Far Gone, when I did flip other people's songs, half the time people didn't know what song it was. I tried to pick stuff that was new or rare or just like an album cut. But yeah, man, if I use somebody else's beat, I try to make a song out of it."

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