April 27, 2004

Mixtape Friday: Classic Rock Remix
By Canyon Cody
Originally published in The Heights

"Hey DJ, got any classic rock?" I love classic rock, but it's not party music. There is something fundamentally wrong with partying to music that your parents still listen to. I'm glad your family can all agree on Billy Joel on summer road trips, but at a party the music needs to bump louder, dirtier, and a lot sexier. Nevertheless, I try to accommodate everybody's tastes - but like Atmosphere said, "I'm the type of DJ that only plays what I like." Here's the closest thing to classic rock that you'll hear me play while people are dancing.

Rolling Stones - Sympathy for the Devil (Remix)
The original version of this song is just about as perfect as music can get. Fortunately, the Neptunes respected the basic structure of the classic on their remix but threw a thick bassline under Mick Jagger's vocals to make it even more danceable. The remix amounts to something like an Irish coffee: A nice cup of joe gets even better with an added shot of whiskey for the extra kick. If you don't immediately recognize the bongos because of the new beat, then Jagger's opening lines will certainly catch your attention: "Please allow me to introduce myself, I'm a man of wealth and taste." The Neptunes get points for self-restraint, but that's about it.

Sublime - Summertime (ft. Pharcyde)
In general, playing this ode to the Southern California sun while I'm here in Boston is kind of depressing. A Sublime song is perfect for warm weather and wafting weed at the beach, but it's a bit chill for serious partying. Once again, Pharcyde slightly alters the original to make it more appropriate for dancing, throwing some meat on the bassline and a few rapped verses in between Bradley Nowell's singing.

Public Enemy - "He Got Game"
There's something a bit sneaky about hip-hop. It's both exciting and a little disappointing to find the original song that Kanye West turned into a modern radio hit, because it seems like he's pretending he created the song all by himself. Producers need to be more meticulous with their bibliographies and cite for the public where they stole the hook for their new song. Or they should just include a whole verse of the original like Public Enemy does with Buffalo Springfield's "For What it's Worth."

Jay-Z - Encore (Danger Mouse Remix)
The best part about DJ Danger Mouse's brilliant Grey Album was that it didn't sound like your typical mash-up, where a DJ superglues 50 Cent's lyrics to Britney's beat. These hybrids are surprisingly entertaining when done well (see below), but they ultimately sound hollow and uninspired. Danger Mouse, in contrast, made it sound like the Beatles actually went into the studio with Jay-Z to record this song.

Red Hot Chili Peppers and Ludacris - "Stand Up"
Here's your basic mash-up song: Take two unrelated songs and mash them together. What separates this song from the pack is that it actually works; the Red Hot Chili Peppers have (or at least used to have) quite a hip-hop sound to them already. Most of Blood Sugar Sex Magik, including "Suck My Kiss," was produced by Def Jam co-founder and hip-hop producer Rick Rubin, which makes it the perfect beat for Ludacris to rap over.

Jay-Z - "The Takeover"
When Puff Daddy released his painfully horrible version of Led Zeppelin's "Kashmir" for the Godzilla soundtrack, I blamed Jimmy Page for not only granting permission but for also actually going into the studio with Puff to re-record the guitar solo. In contrast, The Doors made the right decision to give Jay-Z clearance to sample their classic "Five To One." Though they rarely permit their songs to be sampled, The Doors' drummer John Densmore finally agreed after Jay-Z promised that he would donate a significant portion of his royalties to charity.

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