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September 25th, 2000

The Art of the Mix Tape

Is the art of the mix tape* no more?

Back in the day when cassettes were the only consumer-grade recordable medium and hard drives were too small to even consider storing sound files, making a mix tape was a religious experience. It involved digging through tapes, CDs, and occasionally records to put together a collection of songs that either reflected your mood (if the tape was for you) or followed some other theme (if you were giving it to someone else). I have countless tapes like these, especially from my early high school years (Slow Songs, Start of School Compilation vol. I-III, and my most substantial series, Jams for the Ride vol. I-VIII), but have made pretty much none in the last three years (for myself or anyone else). But even now, years later, on ocassion I go back and listen to my mix tapes and the few that other people gave me (Paul gave me one nine years ago that I still have).

I think that recordable CDs may be partially to blame. It seems that people are much more likely to burn only songs from another digital source, be it another CD or an MP3. That right there cuts out part of the mix tape experience — digging through old albums and tapes (maybe even other mix tapes) in order to find just the right song.

What’s the last mix tape you made? Agree/disagree?

* When I say “mix tape,” here I refer more to a “compilation tape.” I probably didn’t need to specify that, but wanted to do so for the more hip-hop oriented readers in the audience -ram

Posted in Television, Movies, and Music

FROM: dave
DATE: Monday September 25, 2000 -- 6:53:32AM
I made a mix tape just a couple weeks ago...they still make great gifts. It's still a great medium for those of us who don't have easy access to CD writers or who haven't gotten into the MP3 scene yet...

FROM: Monica
DATE: Monday September 25, 2000 -- 11:35:32AM
I just have to say that Robert is keeping it alive. Way to go, dude :)

Elvis Pres-LEY....Elvis Pres-LEY... just heard that one....

FROM: Aaron
DATE: Monday September 25, 2000 -- 1:46:55PM
Yet another apropos Daily Ping; I just made a mix tape for someone last night.

FROM: Ryan
DATE: Monday September 25, 2000 -- 2:16:05PM
Dave -- agreed. CD writers are not quite down to the sub-$300 level yet, and they may not be anytime soon. They still have a long way to go as far as usability, too.

Monica -- Which Robert are you referring to?

Aaron -- Good for you!

FROM: Matt
DATE: Monday September 25, 2000 -- 2:58:46PM
Woah, Monica Harkeys in the house!
I made a mix tape for my friend Garett a few weeks back and he did for me also. I made a hip-hop one for him, which since it was all off of vinyl and continuous it was a hip-hop mix tape. He made a hardcore one for me.
I don't necessarily think they are dead. Especially like you said Ryan in reference to hip-hop mix tapes that dj's comercially sell. However alot of people prefer to use mp3's and stuff which really doesn't have much heart behind it and overall makes an over-sanitized collection of songs.

FROM: Ryan
DATE: Monday September 25, 2000 -- 3:23:23PM
Matt -- I purposely excluded hip-hop mix tapes from the equation, because they are alive and very well. Same with drum-n-bass/house/etc. mix tapes.

But I'd count yours since it was made for one person -- that's another unqiue quality about personal mix tapes.

FROM: Monica
DATE: Monday September 25, 2000 -- 3:23:24PM
Hi Matt! Hi Ryan! I was referring to the one and only RAS. The Alton-meister himself :)

FROM: Robert
DATE: Monday September 25, 2000 -- 3:39:23PM
Damn, I could go on all day about mix tapes. They are gift that really proves how much the thought counts.

Monica--Expect another installment in the coming weeks. I think I have a particuarly clever theme idea for side 1.

FROM: Matt
DATE: Monday September 25, 2000 -- 4:21:11PM
Monica--You need to drop me a line and let me know about that show you were going to tape for me and send to me.

FROM: Maria
DATE: Monday September 25, 2000 -- 5:43:41PM
Back in high school (I say that like it was so long ago) my friends and I made mix tapes for each other sometimes. I still make them to listen to in the car, but I do it a little differently now--hook the computer up to the stereo and record MP3s onto tapes. It works really nicely and instead of digging through old albums I just have to dig through Napster users.
The most fun part of making a mix tape, for me, is making the cover--you know that ugly piece of heavy paper they stick in there with a blank tape--I cover the outside of it with magazine clippings, collage-style, and print the song listings off my computer (in a cool font, of course) and glue that on the back.

FROM: Old Fezziwig
DATE: Tuesday September 26, 2000 -- 9:21:30AM
For me, the mix tape took on many different faces depending on the era:
Back in the day, I'd make mix tapes by holding up my little cassette recorder to my parent's 'hi-fi' radio speaker during "Casey Kasem's Weekly Top 40". I'd accidently get commercials thrown in there and the sound quality was terrible (you can hear people talking in my house and trains going by) but it was a technological wonder to me nevertheless. I still listen to those tapes for a good laugh.

High School
In high school, the big thing to do was make a mix tape and hand them out to people you liked (any girl)....a strange sort of mating call. You'd always do well with this ploy if you managed to include Keith Sweat, Bell Biv DeVoe, Jodeci, or Al B. Sure in the mix and call the tape something like "Slow Jams".

In college, I made mix tapes for myself and my road-tripping partners. Titles included "Spring Break '93", "Prince Tunes", "Old-School/New Jack Rap", and the ever-famous "Songs from 1991".
During the last week of college, everyone was running around our fraternity house borrowing each other's CDs and making quick mix tapes - - we were used to having all these songs within our reach for 4 years and since we were all going in different directions, we had to make copies to get us through the hard times until we all found jobs and could afford to buy the CDs ourselves. I think Soak even copied LL Cool J's "Milky Cereal" during this tramatic and chaotic time.

Present Day
Mix tapes/CDs make great Valentine's Day gifts - they are quick and cheap and if you do it right, the recipient finds it meaningful.

-Old Fezz

FROM: Robert
DATE: Tuesday September 26, 2000 -- 1:25:29PM
Ryan--One day I hope to become a more hip-hop oriented reader. :)

FROM: Tony
DATE: Wednesday September 27, 2000 -- 6:00:40AM
I making a mix tape now, Ive always thought mix tapes take more time, and show you care more to the person you give it to. Rather than just drag-n-dropping .mp3's into a burning app. Not that recorded mix CD's is bad, its just easier, and more effort shows better when giving the mix tape to a significant other.

FROM: Maria
DATE: Thursday May 31, 2001 -- 3:00:43PM
Check out

FROM: Ryan
DATE: Thursday May 31, 2001 -- 3:34:24PM
Good find, Maria.

DATE: Saturday January 1, 2005 -- 2:48:09 pm

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