My favourite mixtape today is going to be Drake’s So Far Gone, and I’ve gone for that because it felt like a new moment and that I was being introduced to something massive.
This was a guy who was being co-signed by the hottest rapper in the world at the time in Lil Wayne, and kind of rapped similar to Wayne but with his own unique way of singing at the same time. I feel that was really fresh at the time, because he was including melody in his raps, which was a wave.
I think I was walking into school and someone played me something over headphones, and that was the first time I listened to the mixtape. I’d heard a couple songs from Drake already that weren’t on the mixtape, so I knew I would probably like it. I was gassed because he was really rapping, and he had lines like ‘I forgot to call you on your birthday’ which was just sick to me. I was into the bars so at the time it was all about the rapping for me, but he mixed that and going back to back with Wayne, with the melodic stuff as well.
In general, I wouldn’t say So Far Gone came to me a significant time, but it did open my ears up to different things. He was doing songs with Lloyd and Wayne at the same time which made up a great hybrid.
I think we all discovered 40 through the mixtape, and got to grips with the idea that not only was he his mate, but this was the curator of his sound, and that they have built a business and a brand for themselves today.
I remember the cover just being in black and white with the title So Far Gone, but I don’t think I saw the cover as I was listening to the mixtape. It was a simple cover but maybe that meant it was all about the music rather than anything else.
Since then, Drake has just turned into a ruthless, prolific machine and he’s learning to expand his message, in a sense of him making a song where he’s just singing, which he had done before, but they’re the hits as well, like ‘Hotline Bling’ and ‘One Dance’. But its still the same Drake.
Indirectly, the tape probably did influence and affect my music. For every Drake song I was listening to, I was also playing Ghetts, Kano, Scorcher, 50 Cent, The Game or even Amy Winehouse and Usher. I was soaking in things left, right and centre and made what I want to make out of it. It’s got to be that way though.
I think my favourite song off the tape is ‘Successful’, because it maintains the same balance. The beat is very downtempo, and gets us accustomed to the general Drake vibe, but he’s really rapping on there as well. He’s still conscious and flamboyant. I think Lil Wayne raps in the video version as well, so you have Drake in between him and Trey Songz who sings the hook, which I think is kind of ironic.
I feel this way about all great projects, as far as pricing; I think I would leave it to the artist and what they were rendering it at. But if you told me an album was £100 that wouldn’t seem mad to me, personally.
I might go Nando’s and spend £25 on a meal, whereas someone may have taken a year of their life to make an album, and put everything they had into it. So I would be prepared to spend more than a Nando’s on it, and own it and be able to repeat it.
If I had three words to describe the mixtape, I would call it fresh, soulful and hard-hitting. As much as it is soulful it is also very hard-hitting, because you have proper good rapping on there and the bangers. I say fresh as well because it really was like being introduced to something new and what he’s doing today has proven that that was the case.
Words by Avelino.
Catch Avelino at his debut headline show at London’s Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen this Thursday.