To start, I have to prepare to be savaged by Afistaface, Andey DeLesDernier, because my mixtapes long ago ceased to be rendered on actual cassettes. She is the only person I know who is more of a purist than I am.
Mixtapes are a very important subject to me. I’ve been thinking about them for as long as I can remember, even though I was never quite the savant that some of my friends were when they were younger. In fact, I don’t think I ever made a proper mix until recordable CDs were on the scene; I made a few tapes to play in my car or give as gifts, but I didn’t really use them properly back in their heyday, and it’s definitely a case now where “mixtape” is more the preferred nomenclature than any representation of the physical product.
As I tend to do in my life, I have over time evolved a set of rather draconian rules about what a mixtape is for me. Of course, as with most of my self-imposed rules, they apply only to me; I think someone else using them might even defeat the purpose.
(This gets into a whole other issue of why I give myself strict limitations for work on which I have historically failed entirely to follow through. But I think that might be an entirely different subject.)