How the art of the remix brings new life to originals

In the 70s and 80s, genres of music like electronic and hip-hop were still local burgeoning movements. Like any new form, there needed to be a connection to the music of the past to draw listeners in. While styles like jazz and blues blossomed from prior advancements in folk traditions, the new genres of the late 20th century had a new advantage: technology. In hip-hop, the turntables recontextualized funk and disco breaks, creating a space for MCs to rhyme. Electronic music benefited from turntables and mixing consoles differently, making mash-ups and essentially crafting new songs. Today that tradition is still strong, but what constitutes a remix has changed.    

Today, most deem a remix to be when an extra verse or two is added onto an already popular song, usually by an in-demand guest artist. The added verses definitely change the song, but it’s arguable that they don’t recontextualize the music in the way that original remixes did. The magic of the remix is often hearing original melodies and lyrics in an entirely different musical setting, and the accessibility of music creation software is making this form of remixing more prevalent than ever. Streaming sites like SoundCloud are chock-full of remixes that reimagine classic and current hits alike. Here are just a few of the most popular approaches to transforming the music we love.

Going Old School

The sound currently dominating hip-hop production is a futuristic mix of trap drums with heavy influence from electronic music. Hits like “Mo Bamba” exemplify the harsh, bass-heavy tendencies that have catapulted artists up the charts. R&B and soul — separate from but equal to these new developments — are crucial predecessors to rap, which provided many of the breaks for the original turntablists. Known for luscious full arrangements, it’s surprising how well an old school R&B loop or sample accommodates a vocal track made for a completely different sound. The loop changes the overall rhythm and emphasizes different parts of the original verse. This method of remixing also acts as a time capsule of sorts, transporting your favorite rapper back a few decades in the musical past. The old school remix is for those who love Luther Vandross and Anita Baker just as much as Juice WRLD and Gunna.

Check out these soulful SoundCloud Rap Tracks: “1.inmyroom” by Awhlee, “whogives?” by Knxwledge, “goosebumps” by SWARVY.

Chop It Up

DJs and producers alike have always taken advantage of the a cappella tracks that float around on the internet, for many different musical purposes. As previously noted, artists will often lift an entire vocal track and throw it over new instrumentals. Another common tactic is chopping up vocal tracks, essentially slicing them up and extracting a few crucial syllables or riffs. From there, approaches vary from elongating certain lines and speeding up others to playing with the lyrics of the song and repeating phrases. Chopping up vocal tracks can remove another degree of familiarity from the original song, with a new instrumental being paired with new vocal aspects. 

Top Chopped Tunes include: “At All” by Kaytranada, “me&yourmomma(LT.REMIX)” by brainorchestra., “Dang lo” by Mndsgn.

This is Jersey

You should have seen this coming from a paper affiliated with Rutgers. Yes, it’s time to discuss the art form that is the Jersey Club Remix. Originally deriving from Baltimore Club Music, house and bounce, the Jersey style started to emerge from Newark in the 1990s through artists like DJ Tameil and DJ Tim Dolla. Compared to the genres that inspired it, Jersey Club is usually faster-paced and more energetic. There are plenty of hallmarks of Jersey Club, from the distinctive kick drum pattern to classic bed spring sound effects. Jersey Club mixes often use the chopping approach when parodying popular songs, but many of the most memorable tunes are instructional. Whether it’s DJ Lilman telling you to point ‘em out on “I Like The Way She Move” or #TeamFranklin imploring you to boogie to the right with “Get Saucy,” Jersey Club is a communal approach to the remix.

Some Jersey Club Mixes: “Sydney Challenge” by Jiddy2x, “Slide” by Trippy Turtle, “Work” by DJ Taj.

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