Legendary mixtape platform DatPiff has uploaded the entirety of its over 366,420-project catalog to the internet archive. Last March, the service which calls itself “The Authority In Mixtapes” experienced a server crash that put their canonical library of free music in peril. A month later, the site relaunched with a page announcing plans for “evolving beyond our website and app” to “continue to make the library accessible!” And now, almost a year later, their 50 TB cache of mixtapes and free albums from the likes of Kendrick Lamar, Lil Wayne, and more are streamable on The Internet Archive. Their massive file upload ensures that a valuable reserve of rap history won’t be lost to the 404 gods.
Listeners can access the DatPiff music they’ve come to enjoy while the platform goes into veritable maintenance mode and builds their next ideation. The front page promises a “next generation” of Datpiff, and notes, “We’ll have more to share soon, but in the meantime make sure to follow us on YouTube and Instagram to stay on top of new mixtape releases!”
No one at DatPiff divulged much about what happened with last year’s server crash or their new plans for their platform. They developed an app in 2019, but it’s no longer on the App Store or Google Play store. It’s unclear what Datpiff 2.0 will look like in a digital ecosystem where streaming providers and platforms like SoundCloud have become the primary venues for artists to upload their music. But what’s surer, for now, is that their upload to The Internet Archive will protect a generation of music.
Jason Scott, a Free-Range Archivist at the Internet Archive, told Rolling Stone that he was “glad” DatPiff brought its collection to the Internet Archive as a long-term storage solution “instead of just deleting the music.” Scott says that no one at DatPiff consulted them before the upload, and the 50 terabytes of music amounted to “half of a day’s worth of data” that’s usually uploaded to the site, which houses files of all kinds.
“I suspect what got their attention was my public belief that hip-hop mixtapes are some of the most important yet fragile cultural artifacts out there,” Scott says. “Even with digital distribution, unless an act goes really big, a lot can be lost due to either disinterest or natural entropy. There are so many voices in hip-hop that attack the current news or issues, and they can be discarded so easily—the chances of losing it all are huge.”
Last spring’s DatPiff furor occurred at the same time that De La Soul’s return to DSPs drew attention to just how dominant — and tenuous — the digital marketplace had become. De La Soul’s rift with Tommy Boy Records (which was mended in August 2021) made their first six albums difficult to find for younger listeners who didn’t have access to their CDs and vinyl. Similarly, a DatPiff erasure would have deprived listeners of seminal work from the 2000s that they hadn’t downloaded. The digital music realm is convenient, and lighter than a CD book, yet too susceptible to the frailty of intangible factors. Physical media can scratch, pop, and warp, but it doesn’t inexplicably disappear. In 2019, for instance, Myspace lost millions of songs uploaded to the site, effectively erasing the archives of an entire era of music online. In that case, The Internet Archive was able to preserve a small portion of the uploads thanks to who Scott deemed “an anonymous academic group.”
DatPiff was founded in 2005 by Marcus Frasier. The platform served as a hub during the Blog Era, an exalted chapter of rap history where everyone from upstart artists to veteran acts began placing free music on their site and others. DatPiff and blog sites essentially comprised a digital marketplace that allowed independent acts to be seen next to established acts, bolstering their profile and allowing some to circumvent major labels altogether. In 2019, Taylor Gang President and Wiz Khalifa’s manager Will Dzombak told Complex that “at the height, DatPiff was a huge part of life” and “it helped mold the course for Wiz’s success.” Khalifa uploaded his well-regarded Kush & Orange Juice, Taylor Allderdice, and Cabin Fever projects to the platform, helping pave his path to stardom. DatPiff may well yet become the same kind of springboard for a new generation of acts. But even if it doesn’t, thanks to The Internet Archive, their era-defining library has a stable home.