Mixtape Nostalgia: Culture, Memory, and Representation tells the story of the mixtape from its history in 1970s bootlegging to its resurgence as an icon of nostalgic analog technology. Burns looks at the history of the mixtape from the early 1980s and the rise of the cassette as a fundamental aspect of the music industry. Stories from music fans collecting hip hop mixtapes in the Bronx or recording songs off the radio permeate the book. She discusses the continued contemporary appeal of the mixtape as musicians, novelists, memoirists, playwrights, and even podcasters have used it as a metaphor for connection and identity. From Rob Sheffield’s Love is a Mix Tape to Questlove’s Mixtape Potluck Cookbook, Burns analyzes how the mixtape can function as a plot point, a stand-in for emotional connection, or an organizing structure. The book shows how creators use the iconography of the mixtape cassette to create ephemera, from coffee subscriptions to board games, which speaks to the appreciation of the tangible and the analog. The desire to find connection through sharing a physical artifact permeates the various creative uses of the mixtape. From blockbuster films like Guardians of the Galaxy to mixtape throw pillows, Burns highlights the mixtape as a site of collective memory tied to youth culture, community identity, and sharing music.
Jehnie I. Burns is associate professor at Point Park University
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 - The Birth of the Cassette
Chapter 2 - Musical Self-Production
Chapter 3 - The Mixtape Generation
Chapter 4 - Analog Nostalgia
Chapter 5 - Retromania
Chapter 6 - Kitsch Commodification
Chapter 7 - Technostalgia
Chapter 8 - Metaphor and Merchandising
Finally! The book I’ve been waiting most of my life for. Mixtape Nostalgia provides an extensive history of the various uses and meanings surrounding mixtapes as well as the multiple ways they continue to make meaning. Jehnie I. Burns does a remarkable job unpacking the cultural significance of this resilient artifact and idea. For music fans of a certain age, these stories and examples will take you back. We’ve all got mixtape stories!
Mixtape Nostalgia is a deeply personal book that diligently documents the evolution of the mixtape. Crafted like a perfectly curated mixtape, it traces the ebb and flow of the medium through its analog and digital eras, across genres, while thoughtfully centering the voices of ‘mixtapers.’ Jehnie I. Burns presents a masterpiece that's essential to mixtape scholarship.
8/14/23, Pittsburgh Magazine: This title was included in the “What We’re Reading in August” roundup.