Image courtesy of Empire Distribution
It’s been a slow year for the all-star rap remix – the fact that DJ Khaled’s two latest singles feature only one and two guest stars, respectively, suggests that the general appetite for overstuffed posse cuts is at an all time low. But adding a bold face name to a song that’s already a hit will always generate headlines, and, after the hype has died down, I come around here to ask whether it was a good track, or just a shrewd networking strategy.
“ALL THE WAY UP (REMIX)” BY FAT JOE AND REMY MA FEATURING JAY-Z, FRENCH MONTANA, AND INFARED
Any time Jay-Z deigns to appear on someone else’s song now, there’s a palpable excitement gap between him and the people who are pumped to be on a track with Jay. That doesn’t always translate to them outrapping Jay, but in this case it does, especially with Remy Ma, who’s been ready to wash Jay since “Lean Back.” Jay repeating Guru’s infamously awkward lyric from “DWYCK” somehow makes it sound even more awkward, which may or may not be as disrespectful as letting his engineer call himself Young Guru for all those years. I do like Jay’s weird, morbid “Let’s Go Crazy” reference tying into Prince dying in an elevator, though; it’s clever and awful at the same time.
Best Verse: Remy Ma
Overall Grade: B-
“CUT IT (REMIX)” BY O.T. GENASIS FEATURING YOUNG THUG AND KEVIN GATES
There were two official remixes, one of them featuring aging workhorses T.I. and Lil Wayne, but lets focus on the remix that features two younger talents who haven’t really been on many all-star remixes yet. And both of them rise to the occasion, although Young Thug grabs the spotlight by twisting his voice in an odd new shape that he hasn’t before. Many rappers decline to record a new verse for the posse cut remix to their own song. But O.T. Genasis, who was already comfortable getting washed by Young Dolph on the original “Cut It,” at least recorded some intro ad libs to cop a plea about how he didn’t write a new verse: “This so hard I ain’t even getting’ on this one, I did what I had to do.”
Best Verse: Young Thug
Overall Grade: A
“MFN RIGHT (REMIX)” BY 2 CHAINZ FEATURING LIL WAYNE
When ColleGrove was finally released earlier this year, the long-delayed 2 Chainz and Lil Wayne duo project had morphed into a 2 Chainz album with Wayne on most of the tracks, perhaps due to contractual complications. But it’s indicative of how much Tity Boi carried the project that one of his solo tracks, which first appeared on his Felt Like Cappin EP, has become ColleGrove’s breakout hit, necessitating a remix with Wayne. But really, the entire magic of “MFN Right” is how it just felt like 2 Chainz loosely freestyling over a Mike WiLL/Zaytoven track, and the verse Wayne tacks on at the end lacks the chemistry the duo usually conjure, ending with Weezy’s corny mic drop joke.
Best Verse: 2 Chainz
Overall Grade: D
“MIGHT NOT (REMIX)” BY BELLY FEATURING 2 CHAINZ, YO GOTTI AND THE WEEKND
While Drake’s label has yet to result in any other Canadian rappers getting a Hot 100 hit, The Weeknd not only escaped OVO tent duty to become a bona fide superstar but has helped Ottawa rapper Belly to his first US radio smash. Belly kind of felt like a guest on his own song on the original “Might Not.” But he puts an effort into a new verse here, only to be handily upstaged by a typically charismatic 2 Chainz, who makes the song sound a lot more fun than it used to.
Best Verse: 2 Chainz
Overall Grade: B
“MOOLAH (REMIX)” BY YOUNG GREATNESS FEATURING LIL WAYNE AND YO GOTTI
“Moolah” is one of my favorite rap singles of 2016, but there’s something odd and half-assed about the remix, which doles out just six bars apiece from both Wayne and Gotti and mostly replays the original track. Although there’s a longer version of the Lil Wayne verse floating around out there, it’s still pretty underwhelming in unedited form.
Best Verse: Yo Gotti
Overall Grade: D
“ONE DANCE (REMIX)” BY DRAKE FEATURING JUSTIN BIEBER
Taking the baton from Snow’s “Informer” and Magic!’s “Rude,” Justin Bieber’s “Sorry” and Drake’s “One Dance” have cemented American’s enduring love affair with Canadian reggae. So it’s an appropriate endpoint of this “ting” that Bieber appeared on a remix of his big bro’s chart-topping hit, which premiered a few weeks ago on Drake’s OVO Sound Radio broadcast.
Best Verse: n/a
Overall Grade: F
“RIGHT NOW (REMIX)” BY UNCLE MURDA FEATURING FABOLOUS, JADAKISS AND FUTURE
Last year, perennial New York rap also-ran Uncle Murda stumbled into relevance when he pulled Future and Metro Boomin for his single “Right Now,” and Future made the song memorable by coining the now famous “if Young Metro don’t trust you” drop. So he’s extending that song’s fame, somewhat predictably, with verses by the two New York guys who do every remix. Even more predictably, Fabolous kinda ruins everything with multiple Young Metro jokes.
Best Verse: Jadakiss
Overall Grade: C
“2 TIMES (REMIX)” BY FAMOUS DEX FEATURING WIZ KHALIFA AND RICH THE KID
In a sign that 300 Entertainment may be ramping up the promotional machine for one of their latest signings, Chicago rapper Famous Dex, one of his biggest hits on YouTube has been remixed with Wiz Khalifa and Dex’s Rich Forever labelmate Rich The Kid. It’s a fun song and the guests add a little meat to a song that felt a little lightweight to begin with, but Wiz isn’t exactly bringing much more than star power to the proceedings.
Best Verse: Rich The Kid
Overall Grade: C+
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