by Rauf Fadzilla
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Remember those wind-up sticky labelled mix tapes back when backstreet was back and Warren G was regulating?

Those were the days of Atari consoles and 8 track players, back when ingenuity and innovation was a part of everything, way before the simple 'download to playlist' and 'click to burn' tools of today's pampered generation Y'ers.

The mix tape embodied the culture of DIY (do it yourself) and even today, contain so much more personality than those soulless CDRs.

You could cry to them (on rainy days), rewind them and forward them until the magnetic tape rolls tore and began curling out of the little holes.

You could also lug them around with you and listen to them on those old school Sony walkmans (remember those?).

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The mix tape was the preferred choice for showing affection, for breaking up, for dissing the popular girl (or guy) at school, for sharing, for remembering periods and times in your life.

These tapes were used to express friendship, hatred and if you were entrepreneurially inclined you could even make a business out of them by creating your own compilations to sell to the other kids at school.

You would however, have to keep your venture on the down low because schools and enterprising kids with businesses generally don't mix (no pun intended).

Still, selling mix tapes sure was a much more legal way of making moolah than beating up smaller kids and taking their lunch money.

Creating the perfect mix tape is a delicate art, tailor made with the recipient's taste's in mind and including splices of the creator's personal qualities thrown in for good measure.

It allowed you to speak with someone else's voice/ music (or even your own), to another person and express your inner most thoughts.

Mix tape culture began in the 80s and was a defining feature of the era all the way up to the early 90s. 

Aspiring artists and rock bands such as the Smashing Pumpkins broke into the scene by creating and pushing mix tapes containing demo versions of their songs at gigs, concerts and street corners.
These tapes featured custom artwork and remain collector's items until today.

Wanna make your own mix tape?
Here's what you'll need:

1) Sticky tape labels: You can get these at any corner shop or music store and they usually come in strips.

2) Pair of scissors: Just in case you need to customize sticky tape label sizes.

3) Felt tip pen/ magic marker: For labelling your mix tape.

4) Blank cassette tapes- These come in a variety of sizes including full size, micro, and mini cassettes and can be purchased at any music store. Some of the brands available include Olympus, Maxell, and TDK tapes. The standard available lengths are 60 minutes, 90 minutes, and 120 minutes. There is a small square on the top of the tape that is removed when a tape is non-recordable, so you want the square to be intact.

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5) Cassette tape case- These usually come with the empty cassette tape and can be purchased at any music store.

6) Compilation album cassettes- The most popular ones back when I was a kid were 'NOW, that's what I call music!' and the 'UK top 40' compilations.

7) Stereo with multiple tape slots. These can be purchased at any electronic equipment store. Popular brands include Sony and Panasonic.

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Step 1 - Write on the label first before you tear it or pull it out. Call your mix tape anything you want. Example: Slow jams, Gangsta rap tunes...etc. You can label the individual tracks on your tape as well.

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Step 2 - Paste the label onto the top most part of the cassette tape housing.

Step 3 - This step may take a little more equipment and effort. Using the dual slot stereo, insert the two tapes, find the track on the store bought compilation album (the one to record from), slot the blank cassette (the one to record to) into the other bay, hit the play and record buttons at the same time. Once the track is finished playing, you should have a complete replica on your blank tape. Don't worry though, if anything goes wrong you can always re-record/ dub over the tape by repeating the process as many times as you have to.

Step 4 - Jazz up your creations with a cool design. If you've got a simple image editing software installed on your computer like Photoshop (hyperlink), you could easily design and print some cool graphics for your mix tape. Alternatively, you can spend abit more money and order a professional design from websites such as

After printing, carefully fold up your new cover art and slip it into the cover nicely.

Voila! Your mix tape compilation is now ready to be enjoyed. Take good care of it though. Don't leave it exposed to the elements (rain or heat) and be sure to put it back in its case once your done listening.

Look! Here’s a free collectible sticker (Right click to save). Collect them all!