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While the recording industry is busy lamenting the death of their business model at the hands of the Internet, a number of local hip-hop artists have found a way turn this market threat into an opportunity. Free download mixtapes (which are neither mixed nor on tape, discuss…) have been catapulting artists such as Wale, Ra the MC, Marky, XO and others into the upper reaches of internets stardom. No more standing on U Street peddling burnt CDs, the free download is the new strategy to burst onto the scene and connect with a new generation of listeners. Its like the indy punk zine for D.C. hip-hop.

Judah, one of the producers behind Wale, Ra the MC, XO and others, summed it like this: “Who cares about the radio, we know that radio doesn’t make or break artists. With the internet, the fans gonna find you.” Here’s some free downloads worth finding:

Ra the MC – A Mixtape About Something. One of DCs finest female MCs shows the boys in the industry she doesn’t play!

Marky – The Drive Thru. Theres something about a 19 year old DC MC rocking over a Citizen Cope track that’s worth checking.

The DMV Mixtape – August 08. Get ready for September’s edition with this fresh installment of the monthly mixtape from the DMV Music Blog Cartel.

XO – The Takeover. We wrote this up a few months back – get a late pass!

Wale – 100 Miles and Running. This is like the OG of the DMV free mixtape ish!