Mixtapes have an out-sized role in the emergence of hip hop around the world. Before radio play, the internet, and social media, there were mixtapes. No matter where you lived, you could pop a cassette into a tape deck, and be transported to a party halfway around the world. DJs were taste makers, trendsetters and creators of the sound that became the biggest musical genre on the planet. A meteoric rise for an art form not yet 50 years old. The importance of mixtapes goes well beyond the tapes themselves. Mixtapes were a form of currency. A signifier that you were In-The-Know and had your ear to the streets. A skeleton key to the underground. The culture was too strong to be stopped, and the artists were too talented to be ignored – so they turned the sub-culture into the mainstream, and made hip hop what it is today.