The Internet has accelerated the typical release schedule so much, that dozens of mixtapes and independent projects (free or otherwise) are released daily. In an effort to keep track of them and highlight the best and/or most relevant releases, HipHopDX is bringing back DX Review Bits. We’ll regularly highlight three projects that have caught our attention.

#MikeWillBeenTrill by Mike Will Made It

“Man, I done dropped ‘bout three classic mixtapes, dawg,” a blunted Mike WiLL Made-It proclaims at the beginning of his newest compilation, #MikeWillBeenTrill. “I feel like, niggas should start calling me Saint Nicholas.” Beginning with 2011’s Est. in 1989 (Last of a Dying Breed), the Atlanta producer has dropped a new mixtape every December around the holidays. Mike Will’s latest project collects 25 recent tracks he produced for Future, 2 Chainz and Juicy J, among other collaborators. We hear Jay Z shout out his wife, Beyoncé, on “Beach is Better” and Miley Cyrus reinterpret Ben E. King’s “Stand by Me” on “My Darlin.” Then there’s the epic 11-minute remix of “Shit” featuring, well, everybody: Drake, Juicy, Pastor Troy, Diddy, etc. Look elsewhere if you want complex lyrics and 1990s boom-bap. Like its predecessors, #MikeWillBeenTrill is meant for that turn up.

Microwaves by After the Smoke

There isn’t much difference between Rap and R&B these days. Both genres use the same trunk-rattling 808s and sing-songy flows. So an artist like After the Smoke represents both worlds; the Florida collective’s recent mixtape, Microwaves, drifts by in a boundless wave of late-night slow jams and druggy sex narratives. Like on “Can’t Deny,” for instance: “Met a girl that I can’t name, but her pussy good, she a yellow bone.” They drone through personal exploits as canned drums and hollow synthesizers float throughout the backdrop. Some songs (“Drunk Bitches,” “Raise Your Cups”) are exactly what you think; others require a deeper listen to fully absorb. It’s a rewarding listen overall that harbors the same psychedelic fuzz as old Snoop and OutKast songs. But while Smoke is charming throughout Microwaves, the beats take center stage here. It’s the right pace for your next smoke-n-sex session.

JDWP by Wendel Patrick

There’s a video clip that shows Baltimore producer Wendel Patrick playing music for rapper Eze Jackson. He spins J Dilla’s “Take Notice” and Jackson nods in approval. Then Patrick drops his own version of the track, prompting a wide smile from the emcee. “Wow, that’s crazy,” Jackson says brightly. “That’s like a whole other feel.” Patrick’s JDWP—one of three albums he released January 1—puts symphonic spins on notable Dilla instrumentals like “Find A Way,” “Let’s Ride” and “Stakes is High,” rebuilding the originals with layered drums and sleek electro-soul. On “Fall in Love,” Patrick bolsters the tune with light strings, airy chimes and bouncy percussion. As a result, JDWP is a polished tribute to Dilla and superb outing for Patrick. Nothing beats Dilla, but these songs come pretty close.

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