Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Hate It Or Love It: Kids Today and Their Remixes

"My theme is memory...These memories, which are my life—for we possess nothing certainly except the past—were always with me." Evelyn Waugh, Brideshead Revisited

Last week, I binge-watched the mini-series version of Brideshead Revisited (my dog has now seen the entire series three times in his short life), and perhaps that is what has put me in a wistful mood.  This week, I found myself listening to original songs that were later remixed into hip hop and getting annoyed with the kids today, what with their remixing and maiming originals and grumble grumble grumble.  This isn't really a post about memory, per se, because I have no memories of these songs in their original format.   But it is a post about feeling that something is missing in the present day that existed in the past, and what could be more Brideshead-inspired than that?

1) Curtis Mayfield, 'Move On Up' (Remix: Kanye West, 'Touch the Sky')

Let's start with the Mayfield:

Correction: let's start with that suit.  Wow.

Let's move on to that vibe.  Also wow.  The high-energy, the sound of the brass, the multiple layers.  What do I mean by multiple layers?  There are many different things going on simultaneously.  For instance: follow the drums, which have a driving, complex beat (it's not just drum kit here but also features congas, which adds to its depth of sound).  The horns, which are tight and brassy.  The strings, which add an important ostinato above (move on up, get it?).  Most of all, notice the tempo, because it is integral to the drive of this track.

Kanye's version:

Do you see how he missed the whole thing by slowing it down???

I feel like this is part of some ca. 2006 trend by Jay-Z and Kanye to add funky horns to hip hop (which would be a great campaign slogan for someone, possibly Hornography):

And I guess in slowing it down, there is more of a relaxed-soul classy vibe or something.  The Jay-Z video certainly implies some kind of upper-class, sophisticated, fondue-plate eating aesthetic.  But I hates what Kanye has done to the Mayfield track now, after listening to the original a few times.  Also, where did the awesome drums go?  Now the beat is far more generic.  Boo!

2) Trammps, 'Rubber Band' (Remix: The Game, 'Hate It Or Love It')

You may not know the original here, unless you happen to play Grand Theft Auto 5 (I only know this because of YouTube comments):

Outstanding.  Also, the matching one-piece suits: outstanding.

You may be familiar with the remix, which was featured on the 2005 track 'Hate It Or Love It,' a collaboration between 50 Cent and The Game:

My objection here is more subtle.  Listen to the original and count carefully.  You'll notice something during each chorus.  It doesn't fit into groups of 8!  It breaks off at 'Palm of your hand,' which is on 7, and it never really recovers.  Pretty much all dance music ever fits into groups of 8 (hence why, when you go to dance class, people count to 8).  Here, instead, it breaks in the middle.  You can follow the vibraphone part if you want to hear this a bit more clearly.  What does this mean?  I'm not sure.  I could read something into it about how the singer feels broken or disjointed or whatever.  But honestly, I just think it sounds great.   A bit of irregularity in a very unexpected place.

Of course, this is not the case in the 50 Cent/The Game version, where this irregularity has been neatly straightened up to make groups of 8.  Take another listen, I think you'll be able to hear it pretty quickly.  It even loops at the vibraphone, so you can here the repeat.  Boo!

Final tally:
Back in the day -- 2
Kids today -- 0

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