What are Walkmans and Mixtapes?

I recently had a conversation with a much younger friend who was born in the 90s about She-Ra. Or more to the point, he had no idea what I was talking about. Even using the current reboot from Netflix for context didn’t help. While my heart sank at the thought of someone never knowing the pleasure of the original Princess of Power (or even Jem!), it occurred to me that some of my 80s and 90s references might be not be completely understood by everyone. So sit back and relax as we go on a journey to find out what walkmans and mixtapes actually are.

Why walkmans and mixtapes? Well since they play a central role to The Mixtape to My Life (see, it’s even in the title), I figured they were the ones that needed the most attention.

The (brief) History of the Walkman

Legend has it that the walkman was created because Masaru Ibuka, the co-founder of Sony, wanted a way to listen to opera that was more portable. So Sony designer Norio Ohga got their brain in motion and came up with the first portable cassette player made from a prototype based on the Sony Pressman. This occured in 1979, with the initial cost of $150. Sales weren’t that great in the beginning, but little did they know that the Walkman would later become one of the most iconic items in pop culture.

While most people still liked the sound of vinyl (and I hear still do), the portability soon caught on, making Sony one of the biggest and most recognizable brands of all time.

And Here Comes The Mixtape

Mixtapes have a very long history you can read about here. The word also has different connotations. When we hear Mixtape now, it’s usually from an artist who released a set for free online. In The Mixtape to Life, a Mixtape refers to a compilation of music recorded on a cassette. In the story, a Mixtape represents Justin’s many moods, as he plays each song to perfectly capture what he is feeling.

Mixtapes can have any types of songs you want. You can make one of pure love songs, of angry songs. You can mix artists or have just one. It’s really up to you.

Music Mondays

Starting in October, I want to highlight artists and songs found in Mixtape. So that means every second and fourth Monday of the month until the release of Mixtape will be Music Monday, a brief overview of the song, the artist and what it means for the story. I hope you’ll stick around for the ride.


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