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Behind The Making of “Tale of The Tape” Documentary

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Tale Of The Tape

Source: Redsummer TV / Tale of the Tape

HipHopWired got to exclusively chat with the director and producer of Tale Of The Tape, a new documentary detailing the creation and history of mixtapes in Hip-Hop culture.

The mixtape is a vital component of Hip-Hop culture, and as Hip-Hop has recently celebrated its 50th year of existence, the history of how mixtapes originated is getting its time in the spotlight thanks to a new documentary. Tale of The Tape is a new film that shows the rise of mixtapes and their impact, with Royce Da 5″9′ narrating the journey.

The film features appearances by DJ Drama, DJ Clue, the late Combat Jack, Kendrick Lamar and J. Cole along with DJ Envy, who serves as a producer. Tale of The Tape is directed by Malik K. Buie, the CEO of the film’s production company Red Summer TV. The veteran Hip-Hop journalist Kim Osorio is also a producer of the film and Red Summer’s chief content officer. The hour-long film gives viewers a look into these artists’ views on mixtapes and how greatly it affected their careers and perspectives.

Hip0Hop Wired had the chance to speak exclusively with Buie and Osorio about their passion for making the film and the journey it took to finish it and have it be part of the culture’s growing archives.

HHW: So, to get started, I wanted to ask right off, how did the process begin to put this definitive documentary together?

Malik K. Buie: This began many years ago, over 10 years ago, to be honest. I was producing for Rap City and other platforms. Like any Hip-Hop head, mixtapes were an integral part of my youth. As I did a lot of interviews and traveled and documented things I always found that mixtapes were kind of like the common tissue to DJs, artists, everybody who was able to reach any sort of success. Or to be able to reach any sort of crowd. They all had a story of, “This mixtape inspired me, this mixtape influenced me, etc.”

And it’s funny because I remember thinking, “Well, I really want to do something based on mixtapes.” We posted about it the other day, a designer that I used to work with said to me,  I remember, we sketched out the logo on a napkin, at work, for ‘Tale of The Tape.’” Again, well over 10 years ago. So that was a big part of why I wanted to do the film, I wanted to honor the DJ, I wanted to tell the story of—we see all these really large mainstream artists, whether it’s Drake, whether it’s Kendrick, whether it’s Nicki, whether it’s Cole, they all achieved their success based off their mixtape. But nobody really knew the story of how these mixtapes started with Brucie B and those guys. And of course, Hip-Hip aficionado Kim Osorio. She knows a lot about the subject, and it just made sense for us to partner up and do what we do.

Kim Osorio: I’m glad that he gave you some context as to when it started because I can’t remember. It’s been such a labor of love and a work in progress. We used to have a column when I worked at The Source called Hip Hop One-on-One. And that was a column where we felt like it was our responsibility to educate as well as you know, entertain. And so I think with this here, what we wanted to do was to make sure—it was a responsibility of ours, right?

Especially with where mixtapes are now, for us to be able to say, “Wait, we love the culture, we love mixtape culture, we want to report on it.” But more importantly, we want to make sure that people understand the history. And we want to document that because these days, you see how quickly everyone is just changing the narrative. So for us there, we were teaming up just as fans really. Mixtapes, because I collected them. I used to think I was a DJ. You know, I’m not gonna talk about my turntables and the mixtapes that I used to make. (Laughs) That was a shameless plug.

To this day, right, one of my favorite things to do is to be a DJ, like build playlists. And if you really know me, a lot of people don’t notice about me. I think I’m a DJ, I had [Technics]1200’s. Everything. If you really know me, you know that I love to sequence music, and I love to build playlists. And I send playlists to people that are close to me. It’s like a love language of mine. Everything with me comes from Hip-Hop, everything. That’s how I was taught how to consume music, through a mixtape. I wanted to pick the songs that I wanted to pick. Even to the point when blend tapes were big, right? We want to take these vocals and put it over this instrumental, we want to hear it the way we want to hear it, in the order that we want to hear it in. That sort of curation of music is something that has always fascinated me. So doing this was a no-brainer because a lot of people, a lot of kids coming up to date even listening to Hip-Hop, they just don’t have the same experience. It’s a whole different game. We have to document ours.

HHW: What were the challenges in making the documentary? I noted how the process was, but what were the challenges that stuck out the most with documenting and telling the story?

Kim Osorio: Trying to be a perfectionist? (Laughs)

Malik: (Laughs) So, one, we’re both perfectionists. Look, this is a Red Summer TV, Buffalo Eight production, we’re pretty much self-funded for a lot of this. And, you know, that’s probably the main challenge. I want to have three cameras, I want to have jibs swinging in when we do these interviews, etc, etc. and the resources said different. We would’ve loved to speak to a few more folk. But sometimes that’s kind of what it is. The plan is, of course, to make this a series moving forward. Me and Kim joke a lot, because there were some things like I will write, she’s like, “Oh, I don’t like that, just throw it in the trash.” And she’d do her version of it. So I have to acquiesce because that’s what it is. But if there’s a certain look, a certain way. I’m gonna be like, “Nah, Kim, this is what I want.“ And so yeah, when starting this out years ago, I honestly thought it would take a year maybe, and we’d be done with it any day. And as the story kept changing for the mixtape DJ, it’s fine. We went right along with it as you can see, with what D’-Nice did with Club Quarantine. It’s a part of mixtape culture and history.

Kim: I think that when I talk about being perfectionists, I feel like anything that we approach, we’re always trying to do our best. But really, the challenge for us becomes just letting it go. Because the execution of producing this, that’s the hard part. We can ideate over it all day. We can talk about the things that we left out in the story, like the interviews that we couldn’t get, that was something even Malik and I went back and forth on for a while. I feel like, for years. We wanted to open up the doc and say, “Okay, let’s get more interviews in” and at a certain point, you just have to say, “No, we’ve got to get it done and get it out.”

So, the creating and putting it together when you know that the story is just so much more than just an hour. Right? You can’t squeeze everything into an hour. So for us, I think it was being able to stop and just say no, like, it’s time to let it go. And we can, you know, do more. Do a part two, and keep going.

HHW: And so, that takes me to my final question. And that is, how do you both feel about being able to have this documentary available as Hip-Hop celebrates 50 years? 

Kim: I think we have a duty, now that we’ve reached Hip-Hop 50 to continue to do more of this type of content in these pockets of all of these different facets of Hip-Hop. I jokingly say all the time it’s “Hip-Hop 51” because I don’t want to lose the celebratory feeling that we had last year with everything we did for Hip-Hop 50. We can’t stop telling these stories just because we haven’t reached a milestone number. And I think we saw that with Hip-Hop 50 because we saw how great it was just to be able to celebrate the culture in that way, and to celebrate the history because you don’t get a lot of that. You know, when you said last question, I said, “if he asked about Kendrick and Drake, I’m gonna hang up this phone.” (Laughs) But seriously, when you asked the question about Hip-Hop 50, I felt like that was something that we talked about with Tale of The Tape. We’ve talked about how, “Is this something that we’ve considered as part of Hip-Hop 50 content? And that’s when I say it’s Hip-Hop 51.

Malik: I’m ecstatic that this project is available to the masses. As Kim said, we have a duty to tell our stories and dictate the correct narrative. I had an OG-slash-mentor tell me years ago about filmmaking. He’s like, “Look, you want to leave a legacy with what you’ve created.” And this is part of it to us. 100 years from now, I would love for a student of Hip-Hop to be able to watch this in whatever format, right? To see my name, see Kim’s name and the people that were a part of it. So they can be able to say, “Okay, this is what I’ve learned.” That’s super, super important. I feel extremely blessed to be able to have this out in the universe, extremely fortunate to be able to have partnered up with Kim to tell his story. And it’s here forever, period. I’m good with that.

Tale of The Tape is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video, and Verizon and Spectrum networks.

Behind The Making of ‘Tale of The Tape’ Documentary Chronicling The Mixtape’s History 
was originally published on

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