Back in the day, it was tapes.
We would listen to hours of radio, Bryce and I, waiting for an elusive “Love Rollercoaster” or “Letting the Cables Sleep”. We would tune to MTV, a channel that my parents had taken care to hide from us, tape deck balanced against the TV speakers, volume loud enough to distort, and add a little hip-hop or hard rock for flavor. When we were older, we’d meet Nick Brotzel, and, from him, we’d learn about rap music. I’d take care to generate “clean” versions of “Gin and Juice” and “Cartoon Ghetto”, though the effort was hardly worthwhile. My thinking was that this could help exonerate me, should any of my mixtapes fall into the wrong hands. Thus, hours were spent; days were devoted. We collected songs like lepidopterologists collect butterflies.
This is the art and passion of the mixtape. Tapes gave way to CDs which have given way to mix playlists (mixlists). Lengths have increased, though I keep my playlists to CD length. One thing hasn’t changed: the passion.