In 2008 I was a freshman at Northeastern Illinois University. I attended Carthage in Kenosha initially, hoping to major in social work. I despised Carthage; the choice to go there was heavily influenced by my guidance counselor from my snobby, upper class, private high school. I wanted diversity and I wanted a school I could easily get into. Enter Northeastern. I switched majors to Psychology after attending some excellent classes that peaked my interest right away.

One of the friends I made at the college, Jean, was a huge hip hop head. As I stated in my other article on Lil Wayne, I was very much into the genre, but hadn’t grasped the amount of excellent albums that had released since Tha Carter III. Jean showed me some underground artists, ones I didn’t connect with much, but started my love affair with the discovery of music. I looked up record stores throughout Chicago and spent all of my savings on CD’s and vinyl. I didn’t even have a record player, but just the ability to hold a piece of merch from the artists meant so much to me.

Around the time I visited record stores in Chicago religiously, I discovered I was amazed at the endless amounts of downloads the site hosted. I also found some music blog sites such as Pigeons and Planes, Hotnewhiphop and DJ Booth (which I still check almost every day). They had articles on mixtapes being album quality, and I was very interested in the concept. Yes, I listened to mixtape Weezy heavily, but didn’t consider it “album quality” (looking back a few years later I saw just how wrong I was).

I found more hip hop blogs throughout 2009, and How Fly was consistently praised. At that point I had merely glanced at Datpiff; interested, but not fully captivated. I decided to give How Fly a spin, as I had heard Curren$y on Diamonds and Girls off of Lil Wayne’s mixtape The Drought is Over 2, and Poppin Them Bottles, Where The Cash At and Ridin’ Wit The Ak off of the The Dedication 2 (which is my favorite Wayne mixtape of all time). I didn’t love his verses on the tracks, but his appearance on the tapes was enough for me to give How Fly a spin. I didn’t know much about Wiz.

How Fly came out around mid August of that year, but it took some time for me to download. At that point I had caught the hip hop bug and made a decision to apply to Columbia College in Chicago with the hopes of majoring in music business (I got in and had the time of my life). It wasn’t until the beginning of my sophomore year at Northeastern that I gave the tape a spin. After track 3 I was in a trance. It was amazing, and I very much understood why blogs all over the internet were calling it album quality.

After endless amounts of plays I went back on Datpiff and downloaded my ass off and found a lot of gems. But How Fly will always have a special place in my heart as the first tape that made me believe quality music didn’t have to be purchased.

With that said, take a listen to the newest track from the dynamic duo. I’m glad Wiz has gotten back to his roots.