WHAT THE HECK IS MIXTAPE??
When I was a kid, I'd spend hours labouring on a single side of a 60 minute mixtape. It was hard work-- you would need to have a dual cassette player and you would play a song on one deck while recording it on another. If you didn't own the music, you would have to sit patiently (and sometimes impatiently) next to the player with the radio on, waiting for the song to play. The second you heard that first note, you'd hit record on the deck and capture it. Using the radio to make a mixtape was a lot like fishing, you would need to wait until you caught what you were waiting for. (That's an analogy by the way)
When you were making your mixtape, the pacing of the songs really mattered!! You wouldn't want to put a really sad song next to a super happy song; instead you would want to slowly change the tone of the tape, so that it would fit the mood you were going for. The most common type of tape would be one you'd make for a boy or a girl you had a crush on. They were like sonic poems, your way of letting that person know you took some time out of your day to let them know they were special. Mixtape making wasn't limited to people you had a crush on, often mixtapes were traded among friends and strangers alike in order to learn new music. In 1987 or 88, I heard my first hip-hop songs on a mixtape brought to my next door neighbour by his cousin who lived in the South Bronx, the birthplace of hip-hop.
One of the songs on the mixtape was "My Adidas" by RUN-DMC and it really opened my whole world up. It was music I'd never heard before, beats that weren't played on the traditional guitar and bass and drums I was used to. As I listened to this song, my imagination was set on fire. I had literally dozens of questions and images rolling around in my head-- remember there was no internet yet, so I couldn't just google terms like "Live Aid" and "adidas." I think this is the first time I was using skills I would later learn in school to make sense of what I was listening to.