Filed under: Crates,Features,In Search Of...,Not Your Average,The Unkut Guide
Written by: Robbie Ettelson
Hip-hop was the music of the twelve-inch single up until the ’87-’88, when the rap album became it’s own animal, as opposed to a collection of singles. But the Maxi-Single wasn’t going to just lie down and take that shit lightly, and it struck back like CAP-One, “the object is more…not the biggest or the beautifulist – but more”. Once having remixes out the ying-yang caught on, that shit went nuts. It was almost as if some of these A&R kids were competing to see how many big-name producers they could get on one single! Either that, or dudes were just too blunted to make a concise decision, so they figured, ‘Fuck it, throw ’em all on there!’ Next thing you know, there are seven different mixes of the same song to choose from.
Here’s a prime example – the third single from Leaders Of The New School, ‘The International Zone Coaster’ came complete with a ‘Re-Remix Edit’, ‘Remix’, ‘Ultra Shandilere Tango-Trixx Mix’, ‘Zone Flight Z9ZU Mix’ and the ‘Radio Edit’ (which was actually another remix!). The problem was, all the mixes were good so trying to figure out which one to rock was a pain in the ass. Das-Efx gave us ‘Real Hip-Hop’ with four versions (Premier‘s LP Version, Pete Rock Remix, Solid Scheme Remix and the PMD Remix), while King Tee‘s ‘Diss You’ featured the ‘Dance Mix’, ‘Dust Mix’, ‘Single Edit, ‘Club Mix’ and ‘LP Version’, as well as two instrumentals. No shots at King Tee The Great, but that song didn’t need one version…
From here, things really got out of control, with the introduction of the double 12″ remix fad. The earliest example of this that springs to mind was the Rebel MC / Double Trouble 21 Remixes, which featured ‘Street Tuff’ as the ‘Scar Mix’, ‘Club Mix’, ‘Robin Albers ‘The Indian’ Mix’, ‘Norman Cook Mix’, ‘Longsy D Remix’, ‘Ruff Mix’ and the ‘Bass Heavy Mix’, in addition to ‘Just Keep Rockin’ as the ‘Hiphouse Mix’, ‘DMC Mix’, ‘Sk’ouse Remix’, ‘Robin Albers Mix’, ‘Hiphouse Remix’ plus various dubs! All of them were garbage, obviously. Remember the endless remixes of East Flatbush Project‘s ‘Tried By 12’? Ninja Tune included eleven alternative versions of this indy track that most notable for it’s original loop rather than the vocals. Were Trip-Hop versions worth the effort? Of course not.
But it wasn’t all bad news though, as The Roots had a run on Geffen which resulted in some of the best value-for-money rap singles ever. For example:
Silent Treatment (Kelo’s Mix-Clean)
Silent Treatment (Da Beatminerz Mix-Clean)
Silent Treatment (Street Mix)
Silent Treatment (Da Beatminerz Bonus Beats)
Silent Treatment (Black Thought’s ’87 You And Yours Mix-Clean)
Silent Treatment (Question’s Mix-Clean)
Silent Treatment (Radio Edit) 4:32
Silent Treatment (Kelo’s Bonus Beats)
Silent Treatment (Black Thought’s Bonus Beats)
Let’s not forget the five different – and equally superb – versions of ‘Distortion To Static’ and ‘Proceed’. But thanks to Craig Mack‘s ‘Flava In Ya Ear’ remix, everyone figured out that the easiest way to do a remake was just to invite a bunch of MC’s to rap over your original beat. Combine that with the virtual extinction of the vinyl single, and the art of the rap remix has become somewhat of a forgotten discipline, with the exception of endless Black Album and Nas bedroom remixes.
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