Remix Report Card

The Fall Remix Report Card: Gucci’s Home and Running the Remix Circuit

Kanye West has deigned to appear on a few songs, too.

by Al Shipley
Oct 28 2016, 4:45pm

Perhaps the biggest news on the all-star rap remix circuit in the last three months is that Gucci Mane is back on the scene and has done some of his best recent work on guest verses. But the usual suspects like 2 Chainz and Lil Wayne are still devouring remixes as well, and Kanye West has deigned to appear on a couple lately, too.

"Cold Water (Remix)" By Major Lazer featuring Gucci Mane, Justin Bieber, and MØ

With Guwop home and getting the most mainstream attention he's had since that weird era where he was featured on a Mariah Carey single, Gucci has landed on the remix to one of Justin Bieber's recent blockbuster EDM collabs. Gucci's surprisingly adaptable flow works well as he yells "Biebs! Gucci! What's good!" over the song's trendy island groove, but nobody really wants Gucci Mane to get out of the trap house and into trop house.

Best Verse: n/a
Overall Grade: C

"Don't Mind (Remix)" by Kent Jones featuring Lil Wayne and Pitbull

While I'm not chomping at the bit to hear Gucci Mane on EDM, I do find it refreshing to hear Pitbull rap over the kind of relaxed midtempo groove he's rarely been heard on since he ascended to Top 40 dance pop stardom.

Best Verse: Pitbull
Overall Grade: B-

"FDT Part 2" by YG featuring G-Eazy and Macklemore

YG's original "Fuck Donald Trump" with Nipsey Hussle has only grown more relevant in the months since he released it during the GOP primaries. But while I can appreciate the symbolism of YG drafting two prominent white rappers ("your own kind don't even like you!") for the song's remix, this is a rare occasion when I would've approved of an epic ten-minute remix with as many major stars as possible cosigning the message. Besides, Macklemore is handed a plum opportunity to use his self congratulatory wokeness for a good purpose and botches it with a stupid punchline about Starburst flavors.

Best Verse: YG
Overall Grade: B

"Get Paid (Remix)" by Young Dolph featuring Juicy J, Project Pat, La Chat, 8Ball, and Gangsta Boo

Young "It's" Dolph's latest street hit is an anthem that borrows the joke from Fight Club that the second rule is simply an emphatic reiteration of the first rule. And the self-proclaimed King of Memphis lined up some hometown legends for the remix, including 8Ball and four Hypnotize Minds veterans. I would've preferred if he had deployed this lineup for a song with less of a generic Atlanta sound, but then I might like Dolph more in general if his music had more Memphis rap in it.

Best Verse: La Chat
Overall Grade: B

"In Common (Remix)" by Alicia Keys featuring Kanye West and Travi$ Scott

Uh, remember the Kanye remix of "If I Ain't Got You" back in the day? That was good. "In Common" had already started to evaporate from playlists by the time the remix debuted on Travi$ Scott's Beats 1 show, however, and did little to recover the song's commercial footing. Also, if you're going to remix "In Common" with Kanye, shouldn't you just go ahead and be obvious and get Common involved? Travi$ Scott's verse is accompanied with all sorts of trippy arty changes to the beat, which in this context feel less creative and more insecure that he knows he's worthless as a rapper and more valuable as the custodian of an aesthetic.

Best Verse: Kanye West
Overall Grade: F

"Into You (Remix)" by Ariana Grande featuring Mac Miller

Years before they became a couple, Ariana Grande and Mac Miller teamed up for what would be the first pop hit by either artist, "The Way." That song and their more recent collaboration "My Favorite Part" find a useful musical common ground for the two young stars, a cozy midtempo groove. But the original "Into You" is the kind of strident dance pop that Grande thrives on but Miller has little to do with, and the remix changes the tempo without really making the track more hospitable for a Mac Miller verse. Maybe he should've hopped on a "Dangerous Woman" remix instead.

Best Verse: n/a
Overall Grade: D

"Key to the Streets (Remix)" by YFN Lucci featuring 2 Chainz, Lil Wayne, and Quavo

One of the best parts of YFN Lucci's breakthrough radio hit is Quavo sounding starstruck that his current fame means "I'm down in Miami, one phone call, I pull up on Weezy." So the news that Wayne was on the remix made me imagine that he'd break into that verse at the mention of his name, much like Jay-Z on the "Diamonds From Sierra Leone" remix. That doesn't happen, but Wayne does sound more inspired than usual.

Best Verse: Lil Wayne
Overall Grade: A-

"Lockjaw (Remix)" by French Montana featuring Gucci Mane and Kodak Black

It's understandable that this remix merely tacks a new Gucci verse on the original, since Kodak Black hasn't been around to do a new verse, but it's one of the best Gucci verses of the year.

Best Verse: n/a
Overall Grade: B+

"Look Alive (Remix)" by Rae Sremmurd featuring Migos

It's fun to hear two of the era's top groups on a track together, but it probably didn't need to happen on a remix to one of the groups' weakest singles. We'll probably get a great Quavo/Swae Lee collaboration someday after they stop hemming and hawing about going solo, though.

Best Verse: Takeoff
Overall Grade: B+

"No Limit (G-Mix)" by Usher featuring Master P, 2 Chainz, A$AP Ferg, Gucci Mane, and Travi$ Scott

A song like this namechecking figures from hip hop's past seems almost tailor made for a remix featuring some of them. But as appropriate as it is to have Master P kick off the remix, I wish they'd gone a bit further and brought in Mystikal or Mia X too. Travi$ Scott once again brings a whole moody beat change along for his verse to little effect, while Guwop and Tity compete mightily to run away with the best verse.

Best Verse: 2 Chainz
Overall Grade: B

"OOOUUU (Remix)" by Young M.A. featuring French Montana

It's been pointed out that Young M.A.'s flow on "OOOUUUU" is similar to one of New York rap's last big breakthrough hits, by Bobby Shmurda, two years ago. There's another parallel, in that both songs have official remixes that recklessly tack a French Montana verse on to cement the song's hometown support, while also stifling the universal appeal that made these songs pop more than your average French banger. Of course, this remix dropped a while ago, and has since been eclipsed by the countless unofficial remixes by various big name rappers, although I still feel like they all lack the spark of the original.

Best Verse: n/a
Overall Grade: F

"Pass Dat (Remix)" by Jeremih featuring Chance the Rapper, Young Thug, The Weeknd, and Starrah

"Pass Dat" was a universal favorite off of Late Nights: The Album when it dropped late last year, and The Weeknd and Young Thug were among the stars that uploaded brief freestyles over the track. Once the song was finally released as a single over the summer, Jeremih brought both in to appear on the official remix, along with Chance The Rapper (who was famously kicked off of another Jeremih single, "Planes").

Best Verse: Chance The Rapper
Overall Grade: A

"That Part (Black Hippy Remix)" by ScHoolboy Q, featuring Jay Rock, Kendrick Lamar, and Ab-Soul

In the tradition of the "Swimming Pools" remix, when a member of Black Hippy scores a hit, they'd often rather bring the rest of the group in for the remix than get the usual mix of stars. And everyone sounds pretty inspired here besides Ab-Soul as usual, who competes with Kanye for the worst verse anyone's had on this beat.

Best Verse: Jay Rock
Overall Grade: A-

"Tiimmy Turner (Remix)" by Desiigner featuring Kanye West

Desiigner's original XXL a cappella was really the hit that people actually liked, and the overproduced song that followed was the remix. Now we've got a remix to put some new life into the turgid single, but I don't think Kanye saying "I'm the new Steve" and "I'm the new Walt" does it any favors.

Best Verse: n/a
Overall Grade: D

"Wat U Mean (Remix)" by Dae Dae featuring Lil Yachty

"Wat U Mean" always sounded to me like the kind of hard-nosed anthem that Atlanta rappers have done for years, so it surprised me a little that Dae Dae invited the whimsical new face of ATL, Lil Yachty, to be the remix's sole guest. But it kinda works. Yachty says "all my hipsters call me big poppa," which is I guess a clue to one of the few Biggie songs Lil Yachty can name.

Best Verse: C+
Overall Grade: Dae Dae

"Wishing (Remix)" by DJ Drama featuring Fabolous, Tory Lanez, Trey Songz, Jhene Aiko, and Chris Brown

Once upon a time, DJ Drama was an influential mixtape DJ, but his attempt at making all-star albums like DJ Khaled never really worked out, and he recently scored his biggest radio hit with a middling Chris Brown song padded out with no names. The remix brings in some stars, but the song is still mediocre—and now much longer than it has a right to be because Trey Songz takes over the track for a minute and a half for no real reason. Tory Lanez almost seems to be making fun of how often he's confused with one of his contemporaries ("My ex bitch is tryin' to front but DON'T—no I'm not Tiller").

Best Verse: Fabolous
Overall Grade: D+

Al Shipley is a writer based in Baltimore. Follow him on Twitter​.