Universal Music Group Mints Legal DJ Mixtape Series

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Universal Music Group is now spinning a rap mixtape series, a move that follows an RIAA-led raid against high-profile producer DJ Drama.

The Lethal Squad Mixtapes, triggered by Universal Music Enterprises, will retail for price points in the $5-6 range and showcase Universal artists.  The first edition is being mixed by DJ Bear Herron, part of a familiar formula that positions an emcee as the presenter of new and existing tracks.  “DJ Bear Herron, known for his vocal street savvy swagger and turntablist techniques, mixes the hottest hip-hop street tracks from UMG’s current and upcoming releases,” Universal Enterprises described on its website.

The series is not the first of its kind, as major labels have been delivering above-board mixtapes for more than a decade.  Moreover, promotional – and label-approved – promotional compilations are also commonplace.  But a thriving underground mixtape community – of which DJ Drama was a major player – was abruptly interrupted as part of a highly controversial enforcement move in January.  Although the Drama raids were coordinated in part by the RIAA, a number of urban promotional departments within major labels actively court mixtape inclusion to popularize their artists.  Following the raid, retailers and mixtape deejays significantly curtailed their activities, though it remains unlikely that label-sanctioned mixes will fill the void.