A couple weeks back I listed what I felt were the top 10 best beats of all time. Which got me thinking about remixes, and how a great remix could completely change an artist or producer’s career. There’s so many great hip-hop remixes, but for the sake of this list, I’M JUST JUDGING SONGS THAT WERE REMIXED WITH NEW BEATS, not like the shit DJ Khaled does with like 86 rappers on a beat that was already shitty to begin with. I’m talking about real remixes. So without further ado, the top 10.
10) “Rainy Dayz” (Remix)- produced by The Rza- the original was one of the best songs on Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, but Rza’s flip of Harold Melvin and the Blue Note’s classic “You Know How To Make Me Feel So Good” was a slept-on gem that got lost in the Wu-Tang takeover of Summer 1995.
9) “Street Dreams” (Remix)- Nas ft. R. Kelly- produced by The Trackmasters- pardon Nas’ cheesy Casino-inspired video. This remix was a complete redux of the original song. Whereas the original was an up-tempo track, this one was more subdued, and allowed Nas to wax poetic over piano chords and big brass hits. Thinking man’s rap at its finest.
8) “Ebonics” (Remix)- Big L- produced by DJ Premier- I feel like I only heard the original version of “Ebonics” a couple times back on Stretch and Bobbito’s Hot97 show, and after his death, when Rawkus was putting out The Big Picture, I caught the remix. Shit it might have came out earlier, I can’t remember. Still, an incredible track for L to let loose on.
7) “Nappy Heads” (Remix)- The Fugees- Produced by Salaam Remi- Unless you have a copy of the Fugees ’94 debut, Blunted on Reality, you probably aren’t even familiar with the original version of this song. After “Vocab,” The Fugees needed to come back with something strong, and Salaam Remi’s remix did the track, giving the group their first bona fide hit, and a cementing a hip-hop classic.
6) “I Gotcha Opin” (Remix)- Black Moon- produced by The Beatminerz- The original album version of this song had a lot less melody, and was way harder, but somehow The Beatminerz (I’m not sure which one, Mr. Walt or Evil Dee, did this track) were able to flip Barry White’s “Playing Your Game Baby” into a hard rock anthem that made even the nerdiest of nerds wanna rock a goose down and lace up a pair of timberlands.
5) “Paid In Full” (Coldcut Remix)- Eric B and Rakim- produced by… Rakim?- The original was pretty much just the drums and bass line, and actually it’s a good song, but just not anywhere near the level the remix is at. When the Im Nin’Alu vocal samples come in, the song gets taken to a whole nother level.
4) “California Love” (Remix)- 2pac- produced by Dr. Dre- the original was all big horn loops and hard drums, where the remix was rolling bass lines and blurping synth sounds. It was like the original was made for the East Coast, and the remix for the West.
3) “One More Chance” (Stay With Me Remix)- The Notorious B.I.G.- produced by ????- Easy Moe Bee did the original from Ready To Die, and I’ll go out on a limb here and say the remix was either done by him or Rashad Smith. Either way, I remember the first time I heard this song, I said what the fuck is this?!? There was no snare drum. It was just that little rimshot from the Debarge sample. It wasn’t hip-hop, it was something else, it was R&B. It was light-sounding, not rough rugged and raw like everything that was out at the time. It was the total opposite of the original version.
2) “Scenario” (Remix)- A Tribe Called Quest- produced by Q-Tip?- again, not 100% sure if Tip did this joint, I’m guessing he did. Commenters, feel free to confirm. The original “Scenario” could quite possibly be one of the top 5 best hip-hop songs evar (how did I forget to put it in my top 10), but the remix is another beast altogether. It was one of the rare instances where a remix and the original song were both equally as great.
1) “Shut Em Down” (Remix)- Public Enemy- produced by Pete Rock- Pete came with his signature horns and classic SP drums and turned what was already an incredible Public Enemy track into one that was even more incredible. I think this particular remix has been cited more times than any as the #1 hip-hop remix ever, and here it is topping my list just the same. It’s just that good.
So there you have it. The top 10 best hip-hop remixes. I honestly scratched my head for a week trying to think of a post-2000 remix that actually had a different beat to it that was really exceptional. Not even that Dangermouse Grey Album shit struck a chord with me. I dunno, maybe the remix died and became the mash-up.
Think I don’t know what I’m talking about, that my list sucks? Feel free to post your own Top 10 in the comments.
Shouts to Semantik over at CrateKings.com for helping out with some ideas for the list.