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Thank Kendrick and Missy Elliott for Keeping the Summer Event Remix Alive

Plus, Gucci Mane runs the remix circuit and Young Thug cosigns Sahbabii in this edition of the Remix Report Card.

by Al Shipley
Jul 20 2017, 3:15pm

It's been over a year since Gucci Mane came home, and getting him on a track is no longer merely a trendy thing to do because he's available again: he's consistently been the busiest and most reliable MC on the remix circuit. But the biggest remix news of this past quarter was undoubtedly Kendrick Lamar's love-it-or-hate-it appearance on Future's "Mask Off."

"Cold (Remix)" by Maroon 5 featuring Gucci Mane and Future

Maroon 5's collaboration with Future didn't exactly strike anyone as a great idea, as evidenced by the fact that "Cold" was their first single to miss the top ten since "Moves Like Jagger" revived their career six years ago. But they've opted to double down on the trap rap crossover attempt with a remix featuring Guwop, and I like to imagine that Adam Levine insisted on making this happen because he was a huge fan of Free Bricks. Gucci makes the most of his appearance, but it's hard to rescue such a drab song.

Best Verse: n/a
Overall Grade: C+

"Congratulations (Remix)" by Post Malone featuring Future and Quavo

The original "Congratulations" features one of Quavo's laziest guest verses and a characteristically lazy verse by Pigpen Paul Wall, so it really doesn't take much for Future to improve the track. But his voice really does sound great on his beat, particularly in his little addition to the last chorus.

Best Verse: n/a
Overall Grade: B

"Crew (Remix)" by GoldLink featuring Gucci Mane, Shy Glizzy, and Brent Faiyaz

"Crew" has been one of the best songs on Washington, D.C. radio stations for the last six months, and it's been great to see it finally go gold and creep onto the Hot 100 with a little help from this remix. Shy Glizzy's verse always sounded to me like a riff on Gucci's "I Think I Love Her" flow, so it feels very appropriate to have Gucci on the remix, even if he opts for a completely different flow in line with his more relaxed 2017 delivery.

Best Verse: n/a
Overall Grade: A-

"Everyday We Lit (Remix)" by YFN Lucci featuring Lil Yachty, Wiz Khalifa, and PNB Rock

Something that always drove me nuts about the original "Everyday We Lit" was that YFN Lucci says "I got the hottest 16, one of the best you've ever seen" on his only verse, which is eight bars long. He returns on the remix with a new verse that is once again only eight bars, but it's a pretty great verse, and I guess you can put them together and make a 16 now.

Best Verse: YFN Lucci
Overall Grade: B+

"I'm Better (Remix)" by Missy Elliott featuring Eve, Lil Kim, Trina, and Lamb

It's hard not to be nostalgic about the moment in the late 90s and early 2000s when several women were major hip-hop stars at the same time, and they assembled for posse cuts like Lil Kim's "Not Tonight (Ladies Night Remix)." So it's great to hear four women from that era come together on one track in 2017. But I won't lie, Kim sounds a little rough. It's Eve, who seemed to have stepped away from music completely since marrying a wealthy British entrepreneur in 2014, who steals the track simply by sounding like she's out there living a fabulous life and wanted to stop by for a minute to show solidarity with her sisters in rap.

Best Verse: Eve
Overall Grade: B

"iSpy (Remix)" by KYLE featuring Kodak Black

Whatever you think of "iSpy," it did a pretty good job of packaging Kyle and Lil Yachty's goofy, whimsical personalities in the form of a massive hit. Kodak Black may travel in the same orbit, but he feels like a very different kind of rapper who doesn't quite fit on this song, although there's some novelty value to hearing him spit with his usual intensity on such a cotton candy beat. KYLE modifies his verse from the original song slightly to welcome his guest back from a stint in jail, replacing one bar in the verse with "they freed Lil Kodak, the kid's back."

Best Verse: n/a
Overall Grade: C

"Mask Off (Remix)" by Future featuring Kendrick Lamar

This is the kind of serious event remix, with an A-list rapper jumping on one of the biggest songs out, that we really don't see very often anymore. In fact, it may be the first one since that JAY-Z version of "All The Way Up" that we're better off forgetting. By that standard, the "Mask Off" remix is much better, but it's managed to be pretty divisive. In October 2015, Kendrick Lamar and Future co-headlined a pair of radio stations' annual concerts, and on both occasions, thousands of Future fans started filing out before Lamar's set. And that basically happened again when a lot of people made a big show of being annoyed to hear Kendrick spit some vaguely political rappity raps on a Future song (nevermind the fact that the song samples a musical about Martin Luther King, Jr.). But honestly, I think it works. The whole reason "Mask Off" took off is that the flute sample stands out from Future's usual taste in production, and the beat is much more firmly in Kendrick's wheelhouse than "Humble" if you ask me.

Best Verse: n/a
Overall Grade: A-

"May I Have This Dance (Remix)" by Francis And The Lights featuring Chance The Rapper

I don't really know anything about Francis And The Lights other than that they sound like a poor man's Peter Gabriel and have collaborated with Chance The Rapper on at least four occasions before this remix. Your mileage may vary, but you already know whether you're going to enjoy Chance singing and rapping about his daughter on an indie pop song before you hear it.

Best Verse: n/a
Overall Grade: B-

"Pull Up Wit Ah Stick (Remix)" by SahBabii featuring Young Thug

The first thing that pretty much everyone has noticed upon hearing the original "Pull Up Wit Ah Stick" is that SahBabii is palpably influenced by Young Thug. And in a way it's nice to see Thugger embrace his stylistic progeny so quickly, lest we wind up with another conflict like his ongoing cold war with Lil Wayne. But really, this remix does a pretty good job of highlighting the differences between these two MCs, mainly by virtue of Thugger twisting his voice into increasingly odd new shapes and ad libbing over the track for longer than he spits his eight-bar verse.

Best Verse: n/a
Overall Grade: B

"REDMERCEDES (Remix)" by Aminé featuring Missy Elliott and AJ Tracey

Amine never did an official remix for his big breakthrough hit "Caroline," but he did a pretty interesting job of remixing the follow-up single. "REDMERCEDES" has an odd beat that rides a shrill siren loop, but both of the guests, Missy Elliott and grime rapper AJ Tracey, have enough experience rhyming on left field production that they tackle the track with aplomb and help put it in a new context.

Best Verse: Missy Elliott
Overall Grade: A-

"That's What I Like (Remix)" by Bruno Mars featuring Gucci Mane

When Bruno Mars appeared on the horizon in 2010, singing sunny hooks for pop rap hits by B.o.B and Travie McCoy, the last thing I would've wanted was to hear him on a track with Gucci Mane, then at his trap god peak. But seven years later, Bruno has fully crossed over the R&B radio with a series of throwback funk jams, and a more easygoing post-prison Guwop is a great fit to remix one of them.

Best Verse: n/a
Overall Grade: B+

"Unforgettable (Remix)" by Rae Sremmurd

"Unforgettable" is nominally French Montana's song, but it's generally agreed upon that pretty much anyone could have put their verses between Swae Lee's hook and the song would've been a hit (in fact, a leaked early version of the song reveals that it was once meant for WizKid). And Rae Sremmurd took the unusual measure of emphasizing that point by uploading a remix to the group's official YouTube channel that completely removes French from the track to make room for a verse by Swae's brother Slim Jxmmi. It's nothing special, but again, it's as good or better than the French version.

Best Verse: n/a
Overall Grade: B

"Young, Dumb & Broke (Remix)" by Khalid featuring Rae Sremmurd and Lil Yachty

I liked Khalid's debut single "Location" about as much as I dislike his second single, which scarcely can be more obnoxious even with the addition of Lil Boat. Swae Lee works his usual melodic magic but there's just no getting away from that grating hook.

Best Verse: Swae Lee
Overall Grade: C+

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