Hang the DJ

 Image from newrambler on Flickr

Formerly published in The Other Press. Apr. 9 2013

Don’t panic, your mixtape is still good

By Elliot Chan, Staff Writer

Mixtapes are love letters, journal entries, and famous last words sung by your favourite artists. After all, who can express your emotions better than Justin Timberlake? Since the beginning, music has bound people together with mysterious links. In today’s world, with such a wide spectrum of music, nobody can tell your story better than you. Still, finding the right words to express your thoughts, feelings, and desires is best left to the professionals.

A mixtape doesn’t have to be a romantic gesture—it can just be a gift. Technology has changed since the days of recording audio tracks off speakers with a cassette tape recorder in a quiet part of the house. It took such effort then. As a gift, it showed you cared; for yourself, it was a work of art, showcased during parties or regular commutes to work. Now, burning a CD or loading songs onto an iPod is as easy as pushing a button. The idea of physical music is laughable to some, but like receiving a postcard, a properly crafted mixtape can evoke all the emotions you want it to. People are scornful of purchasing new CD albums, but everybody still appreciates the tangibles.

Like old photographs, mixtapes can stir up memories, both good and bad. The songs take you back to a moment in your life, so if you want friends and family to remember you, make them a mixtape.

Looking through someone’s iPod is like scanning a bookshelf. A lot of judgment can be made about the person and their taste. Therefore, a mixtape is like a resumé: it should show off your sophistication and diverse audible palate. Anybody can be a DJ, and most people are. Whether you do it recreationally or professionally, the point is to do it. Create.

To those who say mixtapes are cheesy, you’re right. The same way buying flowers is cheesy, the same way taking your mother out for lunch is cheesy, and the same way calling friends just to check up on them is cheesy. There’s nothing cheesy about showing someone how much you care.

With all that being said, a mixtape shouldn’t be a compilation of random songs—your iTunes can shuffle if that’s what you want. A quality mixtape should be like any good story: it should have an arc, a climax, and denouement. There are those who go to the grocery store and buy a card for a friend, but then there are those who get out the coloured crayons and glitter to decorate their own. A mixtape should have your mark on it. It should be something you wouldn’t want to lose in public. There should be a part of you in the tracks.

Mixtapes are personal creations. It doesn’t matter what musical taste you have or how similar it is to others‘—your compilation will always be unique. You might not be creating music, but a set list that suits your taste and expresses your emotions is something a DJ on the radio or at a dance club can’t do for you.

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