I have never "copped a mixtape." And the closest I ever came to the corner bootlegger was getting a Best of the 80s cassette compilation from a neighborhood girl who lived in the cul-de-sac, but I don't think that counts.
Despite that novice-like background, I do own Soundbombing 2, am aware of Doo Wop 95 Live, and have downloaded enough Clue or Kay Slay mixes to make the average outsider suspect that the screaming DJ was Hip-Hop's version of the Fox News ticker. Of the genre, I also know that sometimes artists set their names off on mixtapes, sometimes artists supplement their LPs with mixtapes, and sometimes artists set expectations with their mixtapes that they disappoint with their LPs. All in all, I'm quite sure Shaheem Reid knows more than me.
Added to the growing number of rappers taking this route, and subsequently fueling the "Hip-Hop doesn't make good albums" argument, Nas and Dirty Harry teamed up this past year to produce Living Legends. As the answer to all the critics who were tired of hearing Nas rhyme over Dove Beauty Bar Sensitive Skin beats, Dirty Harry hooked up generally flawless blends and let Nas drop a few bars over more bounce than his last couple albums provided. Whereas Street's Disciple might have centered more on a Lifetime Channel feel and Chucky Thompson doing his best sonic representation of Midol, Living Legends satisfied the more conventional fan with interpretations of Mic Check, Soul Survivor, and You're Nobody (Til Somebody Kills You), for example. Cuts featuring new verses also came off quite well, such as Shootouts 2005.
Calling into name the classic storytelling number from It Was Written, Shootouts 2005 fittingly featured a mixtape-only artist of the moment, Maino, who even had previously invoked Nas and Mrs. Nas' names in a questionable fashion. (If you Xerox a gimmick, what are you left with?) But never the one to let past beef stand in the way of working relationships (more on that later), Nas came through with a story to tell. The tale this time was of an incident, in 1991, at a club on 54th Street called Red Zone. Oddly enough, the NY Daily News, in covering Puff Daddy and, in part, notorious parties he threw back in the early 90s, mentions a "W. 54th St. club called Red Zone that had drawn much neighborhood and police attention over the past year ." As well does the verse bring to mind the club robbery scene from the opening minutes of Belly, which Nas of course co-wrote. However, although all fiction has at least traces of truth in it, and maybe even Doubleday could shop it as a memoir, the bottom line is Nas and Maino and Dirty Harry together make for a dope track. The rest, you decide.
Nas f/ Maino: Shootouts 2005Played the bar, saw my man Ron, already the plan's wrong
Ron supposed to be upstairs, second level
The club was jam packed, front entrance detect the metal
A bouncer let him in through the back, two Maks
35 shots a piece, true that