We chopped it up with the legendary DJ Mars to discuss his new upcoming book, The Art Behind the Tape. During our conversation, the turntable expert turned author discussed the inspiration behind creating the coffee table influenced compilation, interviewing over 90 DJs, his favorite anecdotes, and much more. In addition, Mars listed his personal favorite mixtape covers, his favorite mixtape art designers, favorite places to tour, and architecture. Hope you enjoy our interview, and don’t forget to purchase The Art Behind the Tape here. Stay tuned for part 2 of our feature that includes the OG’s take on his favorite sneakers and rappers at the moment.
On the creative process and inspiration behind The Art Behind the Tape:
The book is titled “The Art Behind the Tape” — it’s the very first book focusing on the development of cover art as a marketing tool to sell mixtapes. It’s a self-published book, and there were three other writers involved in the process: Tai Saint-Louis, Bril Ndaiye and Maurice Garland. We worked hand-in-hand putting the project together for a year and a half consistently, but historically I started the project 8 years ago. The original idea was to shoot a documentary, but that was taking too long. The book was always going to be part of the package, but then it became an easier project to do moving forward. I knew I could do it, and I knew the marketplace needed a project like this because there’s no other book out there that fits this mold. I knew the audience would receive it well, so I just went ahead and tried to knock it out.
On his favorite part of The Art Behind the Tape:
Because I’m a DJ, my favorite part of the book was the interview process with the DJs. We have over 90 interviews with other DJs, from DJ Hollywood to DJ A-Trak, and the stories that you hear from the different DJs are so incredible. Hollywood talking about his early days as a DJ before there even was such a thing called hip-hop. He was taking us back to when he was DJaying playing disco music and funk crates. All the way up to DJ A-Trak telling us how when he was a kid he would come to New York City to come up to Harlem to buy mixtapes. Now this is DJ A-Trak, the super huge EDM act that tours in front of audiences of over 50K people. He’s telling me that used to go to Harlem to get DJ SNS mixtapes because SNS was one of his favorite mixtape DJs. When you hear those kind of stories and you put the stories together with the artwork, you tell the visual and audio story of the mixtape game. So to answer your question, it’s the interviews that I love the most. But the whole overall book, I’m just proud to bring it to the masses.