The best free music of 2010

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It was not the best year for the free exchange of music, as a concept. This is good for the music industry, since it can hope for more “streaming revenue” and enforce its nascent online etiquette (“Please do not rehost this mp3”). But it spells the future enclosures of music ownership in the Cloud, whenever we finally get to the point where all our data remains stored and controlled not in our individual mp3 players, but by proxy through mass servers.

Or so the theories go. And in that (more lucrative) socialist sounding future, we may not “own” mp3s but rather license them from the sites where they actually reside. Until then, the hip hop mixtape and the weirdo digital versions of tapes were the only real mainstays of legit, free downloadable mp3 music this year. In that realm, much was solid. Also, Girl Talk.

The Complete Work of Odd Future Wolf Gang Crew Kill Them All

OFWGKTA don't give a flying fuck, blending horrorcore aesthetic, skate
video culture and the knock of crack rap's deadliest medleys into a
sound that's as screw loose as their smoothies. It's the sort of young
mania – from a natural OD on hormones – that makes the OFWGKTA crew's
sound untainted and raw.

Download their stuff on their blog.

Girl Talk, All Day

Go get it, we say, without an ounce of critical angst!

Friends Records' Whartscape preview cassette

The tape that
went with the last Whartscape ever was up to the task of documenting
the wide-open Baltimore sounds of right then, summer 2010. You can
already sniff the rare collectible scent off these fifteen artists'
tracks (many exclusive) stuck to one reel.

Download it here.

Busdriver, Computer Cooties

No one can deliver
left-brain braggadocio quite like Busdriver. He sneaks in nuggets of
brilliance like “I'm a self-employed dapper-dan” that go unnoticed
while you scratch your head over “I go so hard it's like I co-starred
in a Ferris Bueller movie” and this is before he wraps up his battle
with a signature double-time punching bag exercise.

Download it here.

Kendrick Lamar, O(verly) D(edicated) mixtape

from Compton, Kendrick Lamar's gruff laissez-faire flow is tinged with
enough gangster authenticity to make a group named “Black Hippy” sound
raw. If you're still sleeping on Kendrick, the only way to persuade you
otherwise is in video format – check them here.

Then download his mixtape O.D. here.

Al Lover, Creative Controlled mix

The man who came under fire from Woodsist in the form of a cease and desist letter for remixing their catalogue without permission gave the same vintage hip hop haircut to Thee Oh Sees and Ty Segall. We're callin Creative Controlled his 2010 masterpiece.

Download that here.

Central Services, Forever Frozen In Television Time EP

Services is a collaborative project between El-P and Camu that was
recorded in 2005. Half a decade old, it's eight songs of pulsating
madness, big brother paranoia and drug-addled ruminations that spill
into odes to Oxycotin and loose interpretations of Huey Lewis' “I Need
A New Drug”. It's truly baffling that Definitive Jux kept the EP locked
away, as the chemistry between El's terror-funk and Camu's fried vocals
makes for a haunting listen… a inkling I got during many a nights
spent with “Oxycotin” prior to Camu's death.

Download it here.

Speak, Beautiful Sounds for Beautiful People with Fantastic Taste

might not look the typical rapper part, but people said the same thing
about Lushlife, then properly shut their mouths when he opened his. The
comparison works for Speak!'s doo-wop samples, which give his beats a
tender bounce proper for lamenting on the woes lasses bring. Speak!
gets lovestruck all over Beautiful Sounds for Beautiful People with Fantastic Taste, available for download here.

Freddie Gibbs, Str8 Killa No Filla mixtape

Gibbs could not have been more on point with the titling of this tape.
It's god damn impressive how hungry Gibbs remains in spite of the media
nut hugging. Gibbs told me this tape would “shit on most of these nigga's albums“, but I never expected to discard my Big Boi and Curren$y* records before the end of July. (*Ed. Note: Pilot Talk sank in and we changed our story.)

Download it here

Theophilus London, I Want You mixtape

I Want You
is grown man's meditation. More than a mixtape, London samples with
genuine homage incorporating Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye and an
assortment of soul brothers that help him speak the language of love to
a special someone. Ha – and he covers Tweet's “Oops (Oh My).” Somehow,
someway it works out.

Download it here.

Back to the Future the Ride's EP

Deathbomb Arc offers a desolate synth meditation as a free online release, made by label head Brian Miller. Headphone music for the SADs and post-apocalyptic garbage collectors.

Download the free EP here. Bonus: Back to the Future the Ride's Tron Legacy EP here.

Wiz Khalifa, Kush & Orange Juice mixtape

When Wiz stays in orbit he makes some solid smoke and riding music. All in all, the title says it all: fresh fruit and bad bitches rolling good weed in the AM. Can't argue with that.

Download it here.

J. Cole, Friday Night Lights mixtape

When J. Cole dropped the link to Friday Night Lights, it blew up so large it broke. Cole was on top off his grind, posting an alternate link in anticipation of the first one's demise. But this mixtape's hype exceeded even Cole's expectations as both hookups went dead within the day.

Download it here.

White Rainbow's EPs

The Fresh Purp Scrape Juice from Sgt Forkner EP takes on White Rainbow's DJ moniker for some deep beats melded into glitchy club tracks. Boring Guitar Music begins in esoteric ambience, dips into haunting, ricocheting guitar melodies, and eventually swells into the organic one man guitar orchestra of which White Rainbow has long been the maestro. Then there is the dub project with Honey Owens (Valet) and Eva Salens (Inca Ore) called We Like Cats. Which is amazing, but not free.

Get his digital EPs at his website.

Lush Cola, Patient Sounds

The solo project of Denver's Tim Perry, Lush Cola specializes in lucid dreams and hoo's and ahh's harmonized sweetly. Simple, supple tunes.

Download it here.

Monster Rally's self-titled EP

Yes, it's indeed time to slap on the SPF 30. We're looking at blue and orange and not a hint of grey, mid-70s Fahrenheit, Madlib-citing pop sample music. Ducktails has been here, but there's still plenty of seats on the wagon.

Download here.

Cool Calm Pete, Over You OST

There is no movie to accompany Pete's original score to his make believe film Over You.
The mixtape is 60 minutes of source material recognizable to hip hop
junkies, but its less about the boom and the bap, more about the
continued thump of a broken heart. I really wish the movie wasn't
pretend – this would be an incredible soundtrack.

Download it here.

Change Leopardon, Juchitán

Here's an album with tracks graduated from the school of new age crystals chopped and screwed by Oneohtrix Point Never's crew, slathered with a flattering layer of ambient bliss, and locked into some square beats for the long ride from the bandcamp page to your hard drive.

Download the whole album here.

Mount Pleasant, The Flood

Tropical/noise combination plates may be the budget item of the blogateria but it will always take some special sauce and a few secret ingredients to spark an aroma like this double album from Mount Pleasant.

It's thick and pungent and peppered with equal-part fractured noise and deviled vocal melodies, and available for free here.

Captain Ahab, The Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts

Even if your idea of easing into a Monday morning isn't skull-smashing double-time electro clattering against mantra-screaming dudes, try this out instead of that cup of coffee and see where it goes.

The Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts is out on Cock Rock Disco for free download. Get the whole thing here.

Beko Digital Singles Label

We've been a big fan of Beko's delectable taste in music for their regular single series, for their digital “cassette” compilation, for their digital LPs. One of the most consistent sites for free pop and electro on the web. Check them out here.

Yelawolf, Trunk Muzik

The Alabama rapper/skater who spits like a machine gun over Dungeon Family spirited music, Yelawolf's Trunk Muzik was less of a mixtape than a complete album that achieved an eerie, aggressive, bass-banging southern rap collection for the ages.

Get it here.

Atlas Sound, Bedroom Database Vol 1-4

All four of these “volumes” are good enough to blow most of the bedroom
pop that drops daily out of the bath tub; Cox is a songwriting savant
with a good sense of how to play on noise and texture with supple,
melodic delay and looping. But count him more immediately a descendent
to the songwriter's tradition that might include Michael Hurley, Todd
Rundgren, his own self-avowed favorite Bobby Conn.

Download them here.