The connotation of the word “mixtape” has changed. During Hip Hop’s Golden Era, a mixtape was put out by a deejay, and it featured various artists, scratches, shout outs...the works. Now, a mixtape could simply be an album sometimes released for free by an artist to avoid paying for sample clearances and guest features. The Piece Maker Vol. 3: Return of the 50 MCs takes it back to when mixtapes were mixtapes, the results, as expected are a mixed bag (no pun intended).
Piece Maker Vol. 3 features a combination of classic mixtape favorites, and a couple of newer additions. While tracks like “BARS” features the LOX, “It’s A Queen’s Thing” showcases Action Bronson and Kool G Rap, who both flow smoothly over a laid back track provided by Statik Selektah. “Take it to the Bronx” features mixtape vets, Fat Joe, Sadat X, and KRS-One with an upbeat flow. The presence of Shady Records is felt on multiple occasions on Piecemaker Vol. 3. Eminem appears with lines reminiscent of the “old Eminem” that his fans often ask for on “Symphony In H.” Eminem raps, “Plus you remind me of cocaine hoe / You always in a mirror with your face, so I feel an urge to put you all in a line and, chop you up with a razer blade / Yo, wait, I’m an a hole / Devil with a halo / Yeah I nailed J-Lo…to a railroad...” Meanwhile a Joe Budden-less Slaughterhouse kills “Slaughter Session,” dropping an abundance of punchlines over a triumphant Just Blaze beat. It’s the kind of material that fits perfect on a classic style mixtape.
While Piecemaker Vol. 3 has its highlights, it’s not without its flaws. At times, the production of the Beatnuts (which covers most of the project) can feel dated, as do some of the featured emcees. On “Double A” AG and Masta Ace seem stuck in early ‘90s, over a slow, sleepy instrumental. Too Short brags of rapping since 1980 on “VIP,” and his flow and rhymes sound like they were written then also, especially when put next to what sounds like a reinvigorated Xzibit. Prodigy rapping “She dig me…like archeology / She looking for a big bone, she done hit the lottery” on “Street Corner Freestyle” also comes off incredibly bad.
Piecemaker Vol. 3: Return of the 50 MCs is a mixtape in its truest form, for better or worse. While some of the tracks are likely to create excitement for future projects (A new LOX album), or force people to go back and check the newer material of the featured artists (Papoose holds his own on “Brooklyn’s The Borough”), other tracks will probably be heard once, and never listened to again. While some will champion this as “true Hip Hop,” the abundance of filler can’t be ignored.