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Listening to the deluge of mixtapes and free mixes from hip-hop artists and electronic producers alike is often an insurmountable task. That’s why we scour Datpiff, LiveMixtapes and beyond, separating the wheat from the chaff each week.

While the rap game was a little quiet this week, DJs and producers from across the map stepped up: Mumdance’s mix of ’93-94 hardcore, PC Music’s dance-pop adventures, London grime outfit Boxed’s first mix, and Mike Paradinas’ trance-meets-footwork mashup keep things interesting.

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MUMDANCE
MUSIC TO… MAKE YOU HARDCORE

It’s perpetually misunderstood, is hardcore, so it’s refreshing to hear a mix from an artist who very clearly knows what he’s on about. That’s not to say however that nu-grime bod Mumdance has rifled through his collection picking out trainspotter classics that should get the blog botherers in a state of full arousal – he’s actually just picked out the genre’s biggest belters. These are tracks that brought him the “happiest memories,” which we’re guessing involved sitting in his bedroom with a pair of well-worn, cheap Boots headphones, surrounded by tape packs.

This nostalgic flavour is explored across a collection of tracks culled from hardcore’s transitional phase. In 1993 and 1994 the genre began to melt into jungle (and later drum ‘n’ bass) on one side and happy hardcore (a staple of small town clubs anywhere north of Gloucester) and Mumdance captures that shifting sound absolutely perfectly. On the jungle end we’ve got drops from 4 Hero, Plasmic Life and Moving Shadow’s Omni Trio, and representing the pill-chewin’ happy hardcore brigade there’s the aptly-monikered NRG’s ‘I Need Your Lovin’ and Orca’s anthemic Beverly Craven-sampling ‘4AM’. Whether you know the tracks already or not, do yourself a favour and grab this one immediately, you won’t be disappointed.

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ZUSE
BULLET

Rapper Zuse has a voice unlike anything in hip-hop, fusing the dancehall flow (and patois) of his Kingston hometown with the pugilistic cadences of his Atlanta base of operations. While distinctive, it does take some getting used to, considering the last time dancehall crossed over to the US rap scene (apart from a few nods on Yeezus) was perhaps Beenie Man’s late 90s/early 00s run.

With production by Atlanta regulars like DJ Spinz, Metro Boomin, 808 Mafia, and Zuse’s Zooly Gang compatriots FKi, Bullet revels in trap menace, with touches of the bleakness found on A$AP Ferg’s Trap Lord and Travis Scott’s Owl Pharoah. Young Thug turns up on ‘Mayday’, and fans of his weird vocal tics might see a kindred spirit in Zuse, who bounds from half-sung dancehall hooks to assorted growls, grumbles and gunfire adlibs — lead single ‘Red’ does all of that and more.

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PC MUSIC
DISOWN RADIO

A.G. Cook’s PC Music has spent the last year releasing hyperactive, saccharine sweet dance-pop hybrids that seem to be equal parts Glass Swords, Sophie’s ‘Bipp’, J-Pop, Spice Girls, Eurovision trance, and Playstation soundtrack. In their set for DISown radio, Cook, GFOTY (Girlfriend of the Year, naturally), Danny L Harle, Lil Data, Nu New Edition and Kane West each take the controls for 10-minute mini-mixes.

The hour-long mix bounds from a version of Cook’s ‘HAD 1’ (last heard as a club mix on that Folie Douce Cold Confessions comp) to Diddy-Dirty Money’s Lil Wayne-featuring ‘Strobe Lights’ to edits of long-forgotten pop melodies with vocals that sound like pilfered mallrat conversations. If you can’t have fun with this, you’re taking things too seriously.

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DE LA SOUL
SMELL THE D.A.I.S.Y.

De La Soul have been in a surprisingly charitable mood lately. Not content with sharing their entire catalogue with fans on Valentine’s day, they’ve now put together a whole free mixtape dedicated to none other than sorely-missed superproducer J Dilla. You see while it’s easy enough to assume that the “D.A.I.S.Y.” in the title is a reference to the band’s daisy age rapping, it actually stands for “Da Inner Soul of Yancy,” meaning James Yancey (aka J Dilla).

While it might be easy to view this whole project as kind of cynical, it’s actually nowhere near the embarrassing mess it could have been. Reworking classic rhymes from their rightfully revered canon, De La don’t have to come up with any really “new” material, and a Dilla beat is a Dilla beat, it stands to reason that they go hard. Don’t think about it too much and you’ll be fine.

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DULLAH BEATZ
BOXED MIX 001

Grime producer Dullah Beats weighs in with ascendant London outfit Boxed’s first mix and it’s an expectedly high value set. We’ve come to expect a certain level of quality from Boxed over the last year or so, and Dullah throws together a sizzling (if hasty) selection of his own productions, occasionally stopping to give the nod to a few of his peers – namely Brum producer Preditah (who he re-jigs on ‘Dullah Circles’), Spooky, Mr. Mitch, Aura Vinetti and Emvee.

It’s Dullah’s own cuts that make this blend such an essential prospect – these are dubs you probably won’t hear anywhere else right now (especially if you don’t live anywhere near London), and they’re dripping with attitude. Don’t sleep on this one.

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MASSACOORAMAAN
#LOCOSONLY DUBLAB MIX

Portland-based multi-hyphenate Massacooramaan stops by the Dublab for an hour-long set of dembow grooves, jacking house, frenetic club music and more. There’s no tracklist, but listen closely for edits of house classic ‘Jack Your Big Booty’, Kingdom’s ‘Fukin Jaker’, SWV’s ‘Rain’ and plenty more from his Fade to Mind family and beyond.

Stream or download

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MIKE PARADINAS
TRANCEWORK

It’s the collision of genres that literally nobody has been waiting for – Mike Paradinas has managed to do the unthinkable and bolt together 90s trance and footwork. We’re not even joking, he’s managed somehow to find skittering juke reworks of Paul Van Dyk’s ‘For An Angel’, Alice Deejay’s ‘Better Off Alone’, Fragma ‘Toca’s Miracle’, ATB ‘9pm’ – seriously the list just goes on and on.

You can probably imagine how it sounds (honestly, just imagine those tracks with a footwork-y beat behind it and you’re there) but we are actually quite surprised how enjoyable the mix is. It’s definitely not one for the snobs, but if you’re prepared to admit that you’ve still got a soft spot for euphoric proto-EDM then it’s probably worth a look – after all, Araabmusik managed to make it work, right?

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COURTNEY NOELLE
LOVE ON THE RUN

Pittsburgh’s Courtney Noelle makes her debut with Love on the Run, a solid if unspectacular collection of contemporary R&B. For the most part, Noelle dabbles in Cassie-core: all smoky vocals, synthy ambience and rap-laced beats on songs like ‘On The Run’, ‘Fooled’ and ‘Recollect’. While her lovey-dovey lyrics are nothing special, she flashes a wider vocal range on outliers ‘Libra’ and ‘Guarantee’ and does well with a ‘Climax’-reminiscent melody on the outro.

Every hip-hop stable worth its salt has an R&B singer in the fold, and Wiz Khalifa’s Taylor Gang (of which Noelle is part) is no different. Noelle’s association with the label is a double-edged sword, though. Sure, it brings her to a wider audience and lands her pro-grade productions, but phoned-in verses from Wiz, Juicy J, Ty Dolla Sign, and Chevy Woods do nothing for anyone. And while there have been worse offenders, why the hell does ‘Just Fuckin’ bother sampling ‘One in a Million’?

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DJ VICTORIOUZ & DJ BANDZ
WE MEAN BIZ COMPILATION

Chicago mixtape dons DJ Victoriouz and DJ Bandz pull together some of the lesser known talents from Chicago (and elsewhere) on their latest compilation. There’s so much cross-pollination between Chicago and Atlanta street rap that drill rappers from the Chi (like Ty Money and controversial youngster Lil Mouse) fit in perfectly with Southern reps like Rock Dillon.

Highlights include MOB PNG’s Young Thuggish ‘Bill’, offerings from un-Googable talents B.R.I.C.K. (‘Brick’) and Taco (‘Thank God’), and a lighthearted R&B tune from Chief Keef’s teenaged cousin Matti Baybee (‘Somebody’). And somehow Chicago R&B singer Chris James recruited Pusha T for the downcast ‘Love Hates Me’.

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WAKA FLOCKA FLAME
RE-UP

Despite managing to rope in Young Thug, Young Scooter, Giggs (seriously) and Too $hort for guest verses and being able to rustle up some typically tough beats from Metro Boomin’, London on the Track and 808 Mafia, Waka struggles to maintain much momentum on Re-up. The Atlanta superstar’s transition from trap innovator to EDM superstar is well underway, to the point where his dedication to rap seems as if it’s rapidly fizzling out.

Re-up is his laziest mixtape to date, and Waka’s usual charisma and energy is replaced by lackluster hooks and yawn-inducing verses. Admittedly, he’s not had a particularly stellar run recently, but October’s From Roaches to Rollies at least sounded as if the Gucci beef (which has then reached its peak) had re-energized Waka’s bars. At this point however it sounds like he’s had it with rap, and to be honest we’re not sure if rap still needs him anyway. That Steve Aoki money must be damn good.

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