Clinton Sparks is a mixtape legend. He started making mixes in his house back in 1999. The Boston native would take acapellas of popular songs, lay the vocals over his own beats, then top it off by getting popular rappers to spit freestyle verses.
"Common would come to my house and give me a freestyle verse," he recalls. "I'd make a new beat for it and put it with something else. That’s how I met Eminem—he came to my house back when he first started. He gave me a bunch of freestyles and that's how we built a relationship. Everyone came to my house."
Obsessed with innovation, Sparks was one of the first DJs to treat his mixtapes like mini-albums. Which is probably why he's quick to claim, "People like Busta Rhymes would say, ‘Clinton Sparks doesn't do mixtapes; he does albums. He just throws albums out on the street.’"
Sure, Clinton has done plenty of other things in his career. He's worked as an E! News music correspondent, he hosts Smashtime Radio, and he even produced Lady Gaga's "Bloody Mary"—but to us, he's still the guy behind classic mixtapes like The Re-Up Gang's We Got It For Cheap Vol. 2 and Kanye West's Touch The Sky. That's why we got on the horn with him to find out what he considers his 30 Favorite Mixtapes (listed in chronological order). So click ahead and get familiar.
As told to Insanul Ahmed (@Incilin).