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Hip-hop industry rule #5,080: freely downloadable albums, mixtapes and singles are to be of equal (or greater) quality as the music consumers pay for.

This has been a rap maxim since the mid-aughts, when artist-friendly grassroots websites like 2DopeBoyz and DatPiff took the place of record label distribution deals. It’s an adage that has allowed for the rapid burgeoning of underground hip-hop scenes just like the one in our fair city. Making beats and rhymes and then distributing them freely to millions on the internet is the modern-day equivalent of singing into your hairbrush and dancing around in front of a mirror. (Okay, bad example for hip-hop, but you get the idea.)

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