The year 2011 has already proven to be a game-changing year for the music industry. With artists such as Frank Ocean, and The Weeknd, releasing their respective mix-tapes, "Nostalgia ULTRA," and "House of Balloons" they have proven their capability to rise to the platform and redefine genres with futuristic sounds.
These artists get their appeal from storytelling in an innovative way laced over revolutionary beats while utilizing lyrical strategies to expose their experiences to the world. However, there is one man who has pushed the envelope and successfully gained recognition as a legitimate artist through the release of three mix-tapes; this led to a record deal with Young Money Entertainment. This was the first time America witnessed the power and capacity a quality Hip-Hop mix-tape can possess. With his debut album entitled "Thank Me Later" reaching 447,000 sales during its first week and landing No. 1 on the Billboard 200, Aubrey Drake Graham changed the Hip-Hop and R & B scene and paved the way for some of the artists we have seen gain recognition this year.
Fast forward to the year 2011, Christopher Breaux (better known as Frank Ocean) has put the final touches on his mix-tape "Nostalgia, ULTRA," a project that is reminiscent of Ocean's childhood and also paints an abstract picture of his experiences as an artist.
In the single "Strawberry Swing," Ocean said "I'm still kicking, I'm daydreaming on a strawberry swing. Just in case an atom bomb comes crashing on my lawn, I should say and you should hear, I have loved the good times here." Ocean lures listeners in with raw lyrics that they can relate to. As a lyricist, Ocean represents mortality, heartbreak, triumph and an overall passion for life. There is no question that Ocean's honesty has earned him a place in the music industry; he has even been rumored to be writing for Beyonce.
Abel Tesfaye better known as The Weeknd is another unsigned artist who has taken his personal experiences and turned them into refreshing tunes. His mix-tape, "House of Balloons" tells the tales of relationship issues, drugs, women, unforgettable nights and hustling to create opportunities for himself. The lengthy tracks that evolve and interconnect different genres are what make "House of Balloons" unique. Similar to Ocean, The Weeknd's open honesty is the very characteristic that makes him a raw artist, which is exactly what America had been craving.
Record labels are generally in control of promotion, and distribution of an artist's work. However, the easy accessibility of creating mix-tapes has placed the power of music industry success for these artist into the hands of the listeners. Mix-tapes ultimately grant artists the opportunity to speak up and sing out, uncensored.