Eleven years ago, I had no idea what a real mixtape was, at least not in a way that didn’t entail making a tape full of songs that you like to give to a friend…or a girl…or a girlfriend.
Then came the internet boom, and I found myself stationed at a nice cushy graphics job. One day I was walking past a programmer’s desk and saw him doing something odd.
“What is that?” I asked.
“It’s a program that lets you download music from people on the web for free!”
“What Kind of music?”
“EVERYTHING!!! WHOO HOOOO!!!!”
So the next thing you know, I’m downloading away…and it’s even sanctioned by my company!
Needless to say I built up most of the original bulk of my digital collection in those heady days of the 1990’s. But one day I came across something I hadn’t seen before. While searching for tracks by Cut Chemist, I found something called “Rare Equations” and it was, like, and hour long. I wasn’t aware of any track by that name…or an album for that matter.
After a quick Google, I found out it was a mixtape; a professionally mixed compilation of music used by DJ’s as promo tools and give-aways. After that I was hooked. Now I have several hundred mixtapes, and even more live sets and radio sets. The genre is great because it gives you stuff you want and stuff you need at the same time, all while making the delivery as fresh as possible.
I’ve often thought that all modern recorded music will one day be used in this fashion. As a promotional tool to get people to come see you live. And of all the people I want to see live, DJ Spinbad is at the top of my list. Spinbad, born Spencer Kitson, grew up in New York as a member of the infamous Cold Cutz Crew and can be heard on NY radio stations WWPR and WHTZ almost on the daily. He also is one of the most prolific and collected mixtape makers in the world. (I own his entire collection)
In the mid-nineties, the mixtape game was kind of stale. As Spinbad puts it “A lot of the mixtapes that were coming out of New York at the time, were the Clue type of tapes, where things weren’t mixed together, there was no blending or scratching and they just shouted over the top. Basically they had only exclusive songs on DAT and they shouted over them. And I hated it, I couldn’t stand it and I wanted to do something that those people would absolutely despise.”
So what did he do?
He made an 80’s mixtape. Originally done as a 15 minute joke, Spinbad showed it to fellow NY DJ, Jazzy Jeff, who thought it was awesome. With Jeff’s encouragement, Spinbad went back to the studio and finished the tape which, when it came out in 1995, looked like this:
Full of every corny 80’s song you can think of, Spinbad mixes them up in really cool ways and has a knack for dropping in 80’s movie and TV quotes. Where else can you hear Chevy Chase shouting a line from “Vacation” only to have the track mix into The Go Gos ‘Vacation?’
Originally, only a few hundred copies were dropped off at Fatbeats NY, but the tape has been bootlegged more times that you can count and traveled around the world. The CD version I have has a completely different cover than the one at the top of this page, and I’ve seen several legit and non-legit versions. He has a sequel as well which is equally awesome on all counts.
If you see DJ Spinbad’s name on a mixtape, you can rest assured that your ears are in good hands. And to keep the underground vibe going, download the fucker HERE! (right click, save as) Or just visit Spinbad’s site and have a look around his mixtape page.
Give it to a friend…or a girlfriend.
And check out the set list HERE!