The 2007 Hip Hop/R&B Remix Report Card

Back in January, I bemoaned the state of the the all-star remix, and the general indiscriminatory overkill that's resulted in virtually every moderate rap hit these days getting a remix. In the year since then, the remix saturation has only gotten worse, but I'm in less of a mood to complain. That's partly because of some interesting developments, like a lot of R&B singers following R. Kelly's lead and dropping verses on remixes where they, for all intents and purposes, rap melodically, and because there haven't been many more clusterfuck remixes with literally dozens of artists like Game's "One Blood" remix and Nas's "Where Are They Now" remixes.

So I decided to try and collect and evaluate all the significant remixes that have dropped since the beginning of the year, some of which were for songs that hit in '06, and I think I managed to cover just about everything (but feel free to let me know if I missed one. I generally shy away from attaching a number/letter rating to a piece of music when I can, but here I thought it was appropriate, since all these remixes have original versions to use as a basis of comparison. And remixes, even more than rap in general, are competitive to the degree that people argue over who had the best verse, I tried to call that, too, although I probably went against popular opinion with some of my choices. And for songs where there was only one new verse, or the verses were sung rather than rapped, I went "n/a" for the best verse distinction.

I should note that I limited my criteria just to official remixes that the original artist or their label was involved in, and only for songs where the original was a hit to some degree or another. So non-singles like the "Where Are They Now" remixes are out, as are songs that became big national hits in remixed form like "I'm A Flirt" and "Wipe Me Down," and popular unofficial remixes like the Kanye version of "Throw Some D's" and the Lil Wayne version of, well, everything. Songs are listed alphabetically by title.

"A Bay Bay (Remix)" by Hurricane Chris featuring The Game, Lil Boosie, Baby, E-40, Angie Locc and Jadakiss
There were a lot of remixes like this one in 2007, with a half dozen B-listers seemingly picked out of a hat at random, along with an up-and-comer from the main arist's own crew (in this case Angie Locc, who looks and sounds more manly than Hurricane Chris). Still, there's something refreshing about a remix to a Southern ringtone rap smash that features two West coasters and a New Yorker, and I wish Jadakiss showed up on remixes more often.
Best verse: Lil Boosie
Overall grade: C

"Beautiful Girls (Remix)" by Sean Kingston featuring Fabolous and Lil Boosie
A few months ago, I wrote about how Fabolous is a great punchline rapper who deserves to be on every remix way more than Jim Jones or Rick Ross or whoever, and how I hoped that the success of "Make Me Better" would put Fab on the remix circuit. It did, but mostly in the form of more shitty girl songs with The-Dream and Sean Kingston. But Fab's dropped hot verses on softer shit than this, and he actually turns in a pretty good verse by focusing on the suicide theme ("Picture me Cobainin'/ Belushi cocainin'") while Boosie screeches and sounds completely out of place.
Best verse: Fabolous
Overall grade: C-

"Because Of You (Remix)" by Ne-Yo featuring Kanye West
More than probably any other producer/rapper, I think Kanye pretty much only sounds good rapping over his own beats ("Touch The Sky" aside). Even back on the mixtapes he released prior to College Dropout, his best freestyles were over beats he produced for other artists. For some reason Kanye and Ne-Yo keep turning up on remixes together (starting with Ghostface's "Back Like That" and including a Cassidy remix I'll get to later), but I think I'd rather hear a Kanye-produced Ne-Yo song or a Kanye song with a Ne-Yo hook than all these half-assed collabs.
Best verse: n/a
Overall grade: F

"Buy U A Drank (Remix)" by T-Pain featuring Kanye West
Kanye verse on this is a little better than "Because Of You," but this pretty much has the same problems. In retrospect this remix was really nothing more than a goodwill gesture to pave the way for a proper collaboration on "The Good Life."
Best verse: n/a
Overall grade: C-

"Can't Tell Me Nothing (Remix)" by Kanye West featuring Young Jeezy
Here we go, finally a decent Kanye verse, which I like better than any of his verses on the original. The song from Jeezy's last album that this song was originally created as a remix of, "I Got Money," is better than any version of "Can't Tell," though.
Best verse: Kanye West
Overall grade: C+

"Come On Baby (Remix)" by Saigon featuring Jay-Z and Swizz Beatz
Cool song, but the Jay verse is, as usual, a mild disappointment (especially after it being promised and talked about for like 3 months before it finally leaked), and I just feel like Saigon handles the beat better.
Best verse: Saigon
Overall grade: B

"Do You" by Ne-Yo featuring Mary J. Blige
A lousy song to begin with, with Ne-Yo's limpest, most poorly sung performance ever, and it isn't much improved by Mary adopting the same weak, simpering voice. I know they're supposed to be emoting, but shit sounds awful.
Best verse: n/a
Overall grade: D

"Get Me Bodied (Remix)" by Beyonce featuring Fabolous
I'm an outspoken critic of most recent Timbaland productions, but this beat is pretty awesome, and it's a shame that it was buried on a remix barely anybody heard. It's perfectly tailored to B's vocal from the original, too, and gives her harmonies a little more to work with than on the brittle Swizz track did.
Best verse: n/a
Overall grade: B+

"Go Getta (Remix)" by Young Jeezy featuring Bun B, Jadakiss and R. Kelly
Jeezy raps better on this than the original, but it's worse in pretty much every other way. The new beat sucks, and doesn't suit the chorus, which is unchanged despite the fact that R. has demonstrated that he's willing to write a new bridge, verse and hook for every remix of every song he's ever been on. The one upside is that the song features two perfect guest choices, including a great Bun B verse bringing to mind his amazing 2004 run of guest verses.
Best verse: Bun B
Overall grade: C-

"Hip Hop (Remix)" by Joell Ortiz featuring Jadakiss and Saigon
It's kind of awkward (or funny) to listen to Saigon's verse, which is partly about how he couldn't wait to get signed and thought he'd blow up right away once that happened, since it kinda foreshadows the way he spent the next 6 months throwing hissy fits about his release date and sample clearance and vowing to retire from rap.
Best verse: Jadakiss
Overall grade: C+

"Hot Thing (Remix)" by Talib Kweli featuring Jean Grae and Ne-Yo
I didn't like the original, but fortunately this is one of those remixes that's virtually a whole new songs with a different beat and hook, although it's still on the easy listening tip. Kweli drops some of the most o_O sex rhymes ever, though ("my great balls of fire break down your great walls of China").
Best verse: Jean Grae
Overall grade: B

"Ice Box (Remix)" by Omarion featuring Usher
Kind of a big deal since Usher's the kind of artist that rarely turns up on other people's records in the way that R. always does, and it works as a co-signing gesture towards one of the many "next Ushers," but I only like it a little more than the original (which I didn't much care for to begin with).
Best verse: n/a
Overall grade: B

"I Get Money (Forbes 1, 2, 3 Remix)" by 50 Cent featuring Diddy and Jay-Z
This is an example of a remix that functions perfectly as a publicity stunt (the top 3 spots on Forbes' then-just-published "hip hop cash kings" list together on a song about how rich they are), but not so much as music. You know there's a problem when the one avowed non-rapper on the track has the most quotables (although, to be fair, 50 and Jay reportedly helped write Diddy's verse, so they do deserve some credit). The single best part of the song is 50's little breakdown right before Jay's verse where he raps over the original Audio Two break for a few bars. But mostly the reason this remix is a big anti-climactic mess is the incredibly annoying slowed-down voice that 50 smears all over the chorus on this version. I can't even tell what the fuck he's saying, but god I wish he'd shut up. On the upside, there were about 20 freestyles over "I Get Money," half of which were better than any verse on this (my favorites were by Ludacris and Milk Dee).
Best verse: Diddy
Overall grade: D

"I'm So Hood (Remix)" by DJ Khaled featuring T-Pain, Young Jeezy, Ludacris, Busta Rhymes, Big Boi, Lil Wayne, Fat Joe, Baby and Rick Ross
This is a great example of the transformative power of the remix. The original "I'm So Hood" was one of my least favorite tracks on Khaled's generally mediocre We The Best, and I dreaded it being made a single. But as soon as the remix hit, it became obvious that the problem wasn't the busy, overbearing Runners beat, but the fact that lethargic verses by Plies and Rick Ross weren't bringing out the best in it. The first four MCs on the remix utterly destroy the beat with relentless doubletime flows, and the remix improves T-Pain's chorus by chopping it in half, mostly abandoning the wordy first section and focusing on the more melodic second section (the "if you feel me put your hands up" part). Highlights include a shockingly capable Young Jeezy, and Big Boi, whose line "I’m nicer than MC in your top three" might suggest that he wasn't thrilled about that one list that put his partner just outside the top 3 and didn't mention him at all. But the real height of the track is Luda, who pretty much says it all: "Ludacris should have been on the original version." I can tell when a new Luda verse is great because when I picture him rapping it, he's still got the braids (even though he talks about cutting the braids off on this one). Unfortunately, the second half of the remix falls off hard, first with a Lil Wayne verse that's good but breaks up the fast pace of the ones before it, and then with a trio of guys Khaled puts on every damn song that noone is every particularly thrilled to hear. And Rick Ross was already on the original! What the fuck, people.
Best verse: Ludacris
Overall grade: A-

"It's Me, Bitches (Remix)" by Swizz Beatz featuring Lil Wayne, R. Kelly, and Jadakiss
My favorite remix of the year is, unsurprisingly, of possibly my favorite single of the year, mostly because it takes the song's best quality, its amped-up chaotic energy, and increases it tenfold. Lil Wayne manhandles the beat and throws ridiculous quotables over every beat drop, drops the beat a few more times, and then turns things over to R. Kelly for more insanity. Then Swizz suddenly switches the beat to my 2nd favorite hit he produced this year, "Get Me Bodied," for his verse, and then gives Jadakiss the "C.R.E.A.M." beat for no other reason than the "cash rules everything around me" refrain in the original.
Best verse: Lil Wayne
Overall grade: A+

"Krispy (Remix)" by Kia Shine featuring Swizz Beatz, LL Cool J, Slim Thug, E-40, Young Buck, Remy Ma and Jim Jones
Another minor hit with a really random assemblage of mid-level talent, but unlike, say, the "I'm So Hood" remix, which squeezes in that many guests in a relatively short track, this one goes almost 6 minutes and really wears you down. I guess LL respected the old school-style beat, but really, even now this is beneath him.
Best verse: Swizz Beatz
Overall grade: C-

"Laff At 'Em (Give It To Me Remix)" by Timbaland featuring Justin Timberlake and Jay-Z
I hated "Give It To Me" and was so bored by most recent Jay verses that I didn't even bother to listen to this when it leaked months and months ago. But wow, this is pretty good. Once again one of Timbaland's best recent beats squandered on a little-heard remix.
Best verse: Jay-Z
Overall grade: B+

"Last Night (Remix)" by Diddy featuring Yung Joc, The Game, Big Boi, Rich Boy and Keyshia Cole
This is one of those remixes where the new beat is more important than any of the new verses, mainly because Big Boi's the only above-average MC on here, but the way the track goes even more all-out with the 80's LinnDrum retro Prince sound is just awesome, especially when Diddy freaks with the beat and teases out the ending.
Best verse: Big Boi
Overall grade: B

"Let It Go (Remix)" by Keyshia Cole featuring T.I., Young Dro and Missy Elliott
The original "Let It Go" is close to perfection for me, and even with better rappers than Lil Kim on the remix it doesn't improve on it, although I like the really subtle new melodic variations on both the synth line and Keyshia's vocal.
Best verse: Young Dro
Overall grade: B+

"Look At Her (Remix)" by One Chance featuring Trey Songz, Bobby Valentino and Lloyd
A posse cut R&B remix! As much as Trey, Bobby and Lloyd might be considered somewhat anonymous newjacks, alongside the truly anonymous members of One Chance each of their voices actually stands out and reveals its individuality.
Best verse: n/a
Overall grade: B+

"Make It Rain (Remix)" by Fat Joe featuring R. Kelly, Lil Wayne, Baby, T.I., Ace Mack and Rick Ross
The lineup is basically every rapper from "We Takin' Over," plus R. and some guy named Ace Mack who I've never heard of, whose verse actually turns out to be pretty good. When Wayne just did the hook on the original, it seemed silly to not have him do a verse, but once he actually does one on here it's kind of anticlimactic.
Best verse: R. Kelly
Overall grade: B-

"Make Me Better (Remix)" by Fabolous featuring Raekwon and Ne-Yo
Nice blend with the Rae song that used the same sample, going back and forth between the Timbo beat and the RZA one, makes me almost like "Make Me Better."
Best verse: Raekwon
Overall grade: B+

"Money In The Bank (Remix)" by Swizz Beatz featuring Young Jeezy, Eve, and Elephant Man
This, to me, is a great example of how a remix can cover all the bases without featuring a billion different artists. It's got an A-list MC the main artist has never worked with (Jeezy), a female twist on the original song's perspective (Eve), and someone completely unexpected to come at the song from a whole new angle (Elephant Man, who makes a great case for this bizarre beat's potential as a dancehall riddim).
Best verse: Young Jeezy
Overall grade: B+

"My Drink N' My 2 Step (Remix)" by Cassidy featuring Kanye West, Ne-Yo and Swizz Beatz
Great song, but this remix is somehow anticlimactic, even though Kanye drops one of his better remix verses of the year. Cassidy's verse is really weak compared to the original, but the worst part is that Swizz feels the need to put his stamp on the new version with a clunky Gorilla Zoe-inspired refrain tacked onto the original chorus. But Ne-Yo really steals it with a melodic verse that's really more of a rap than I would've expected from him, even if it's just him smugly addressing gay rumors (and dropping a regrettable "is he straight"/"is me straight" couplet).
Best verse: Ne-Yo
Overall grade: C

"Pain In My Life (Remix)" by Saigon featuring The Game, B.G. and Trey Songz
Nice guest selection on here, not too predictable or New York. I like B.G. more than the other dudes on here but I have to admit that Game sounds damn good on that beat.
Best verse: The Game
Overall grade: B+

"Party Like A Rock Star (Remix)" by the Shop Boyz featuring Lil Wayne, Jim Jones and Chamillionaire
This is the kind of situation where the artists have everything to gain by making the remix a big event, because the original has a good chance of being their only hit ever. But this blows, mostly because the original was pretty terrible to begin with. The Shop Boyz know you don't care what their names are to the extent that one merely says "I am a Shop Boy" instead of stating his name. They do a good job of picking some guests that were into the rock star chic thing in rap before their song hit, but Wayne drops one of those really annoying verses full of awkward affectations (although he still lets out one great quotable in "Weezy F. Baby, no abortion") and Jones tries a hilarious bad doubletime flow. Surprisingly it's Cham, whose recent stuff is mostly terrible, who rises to the occasion and actually stays on-topic with lots of rock music references in his verse.
Best verse: Chamillionaire
Overall grade: D

"Please Don't Go (Remix)" by Tank featuring Ginuwine and Tyrese
This takes a pretty similiar format to the "Ice Box" remix, with the original artist turning to the other singers for advice about the problem detailed in the first version. But I think this one does the concept better, and bodes well for the 3 artists' supergroup, TGT.
Best verse: n/a
Overall grade: B+

"Pop, Lock & Drop It (Remix)" by Huey featuring T-Pain and Bow Wow
I can barely remember what the other verses sound like but it's classic just for T-Pain's insane malfunctioning robot verse, which was one of the first times I realized that he could be really awesome sometimes.
Best verse: T-Pain
Overall grade: B+

"Promise (Remix)" by Ciara featuring R. Kelly
Even moreso than the "Let It Go" remix, it's hard for me to get into this just because the original was pretty much perfect, and R. doing his usual silly schtick over such an emotionally affecting song really diminishes its impact.
Best verse: n/a
Overall grade: C+

"Same Girl (Remix)" by R. Kelly featuring T-Pain
Here's an example of how R.'s schtick can work really well, while still being faithful to the song's original concept. T-Pain shows up to declare that he's not only also seeing the same girl as R. and Usher, but that he's married to her, and R. proceeds to humiliate the cockolded sad T-Panda, and mock "Buy U A Drank" with a hysterical Michael Jackson impression.
Best verse: R. Kelly
Overall grade: A-

"Sexy Lady (Remix)" by Yung Berg featuring Jim Jones and Rich Boy
I'm probably underrating some of these remixes if I already disliked the original song, but I totally hated "Sexy Lady" and really have to give the remix some props. The shit they did to change up the beat and the sample makes the song ten times fresher than it originally was, even if the guest list ain't all that.
Best verse: Rich Boy
Overall grade: B+

"Shawty Is Da Shit (Remix)" by The-Dream featuring R. Kelly
I wish this had taken on the same argument-song format as the "Same Girl" remix, and R. and T-Pain had both shown up to confront The-Dream about how this song sounds like an unimaginative composite of "I'm A Flirt" and "Buy U A Drank." As is, though, this is a decent remix, R. does his usual thing, nothing to write home about.
Best verse: R. Kelly
Overall grade: C-

"Sweetest Girl (Remix)" by Wyclef featuring Akon, Lil Wayne, Raekwon and Niia
The original version of "Sweetest Girl" featured a refrain of "cash rules everything around me," so Wyclef completes the nod to the Wu classic with a remix that jacks the "C.R.E.A.M." If that sounds familiar, it's because Swizz did the exact same thing 6 months earlier on the much better "It's Me, Snitches" remix, as I mentioned a minute ago. I had to dock 'Clef a full letter grade just for the retread of the idea, then I gave half of it back for getting an actual Wu Tang member on his version, then took it back for the recycling of Akon and Wayne's verses from the original.
Best verse: Raekwon
Overall grade: C-

"Tambourine (Remix)" by Eve featuring Missy Elliott, Fabolous and Swizz Beatz
This remix pretty much met my expectations without exceeding them. I like "Tambourine," though, I think Aftermath really fucked up by not continuing to push this song harder when it cracked the top 40, instead of moving onto the boring song with Sean Paul that flopped and got Eve's album pushed back to 2009.
Best verse: Fabolous
Overall grade: B-

"This Is Why I'm Hot (Remix)" by Mims featuring Junior Reid and Baby Cham
This is one of those remixes that I think just destroys the original, and I'm not even that into dancehall. The best part is the way it mixes in dancehall classics like "No, No, No" the same way that the original flipped through beats like "Nothin' But A G Thang." The Junior Reid verse is full of so many great moments that a lot of them were looped up in one of my favorite Baltimore club tracks of '07.
Best verse: Junior Reid
Overall grade: A

"Throw Some D's (Remix)" by Rich Boy featuring Andre 3000, Jim Jones, Nelly, Murphy Lee, Lil Jon and The Game
This one's good but just falls short of expectations, considering how good the original was. Someone (Polow?) changed up the beat a little, and I don't appreciate the way the synths are now mixed higher than the creamy Switch sample, and there's annoying atmospheric wooshes over the whole track. But this remix is special in the sense that it features the worst Jim Jones verse of all the remixes he took a shit on this year.
Best verse: Andre 3000
Overall grade: B-

"2 Step (Remix)" by DJ Unk featuring T-Pain, Jim Jones and E-40
Another one where I can't even remember what the verses after T-Pain sound like, because every DJ plays just his part and then switches it off. I'm glad this one got a remix as big as "Walk It Out," though, since I like this one more.
Best verse: T-Pain
Overall grade: B+

"Umbrella (Cinderella Remix)" by Rihanna featuring Chris Brown
I hate Chris Brown with a passion, and I never thought this song was the perfect pop gem it's often made out to be, but I at least have to give the kid credit for the semi-clever flip of the song from "Umbrella" to "Cinderella." When he tries to harmonize with her on the bridge, though, oof.
Best verse: n/a
Overall grade: C-

"Until The End Of Time (Remix)" by Justin Timberlake featuring Beyonce
Great song, probably my 2nd favorite off this album after "My Love," but the new Beyonce vocal sounds really tacked-on and it doesn't quite work as a duet.
Best verse: n/a
Overall grade: C

"Wall To Wall (Remix)" by Chris Brown featuring Jadakiss
This was just barely a hit to begin with, and not very good, but I respect Chris for getting someone other than Juelz or Wayne on a remix for once. On a side note, I had no idea at all until like a week ago that Swizz Beatz produced this song, or that it was yet another Daft Punk sample.
Best verse: n/a
Overall grade: B-

"We Takin' Over (Remix)" by DJ Khaled featuring Akon, R. Kelly, T-Pain, Lil Kim and Young Jeezy
Considering that "We Takin' Over" was an overstuffed posse cut to begin with, this feels a bit unnecessary and redundant, especially since it isn't an obvious improvement like the "I'm So Hood" remix.
Best verse: T-Pain
Overall grade: C

"When I See You (Remix)" by Fantasia featuring Polow Da Don and Young Jeezy
Polow is the king of remixes that completely switch up the beat for the better ("Fallen," "Luxurious," "Back In Da Mud"), and this is no exception, and it's nice that after "Throw Some D's" he's now famous enough to kick a verse of his own on it, although I wish he did more than just a few bars.
Best verse: Young Jeezy
Overall grade: B+

"White Girl (Remix)" by USDA featuring Lil Wayne, Fabolous and Rick Ross
I think my opinion of Lil Wayne's verses on remixes automatically drops a little whenever he does that annoying "remix, baby!" thing. I also really hate how both Fab and Wayne do "white girl, Lindsay Lohan" references. I know that on 90% of these remixes, all these guys' managers just e-mailed each other files of the verses, but did they have to make it so obvious that they weren't in the same room listening to each other?
Best verse: Young Jeezy
Overall grade: B-
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Angie Locc's verse was ill. Hate Omarion, but "Ice Box" was the shit. "I Get Money (Remix)" was lackluster. Hated "I'm So Hood" the 1st half of the remix is banging, when Wayne comes on it goes downhill. "It's Me Bitches" sick - simply sick. Timbaland had a semi-nice album, much better than Swizz or Pharrell's and I fuck with P. Hate "Make it Rain." Hate "until the end of time" any version. "Wall to Wall" beat was dumb hard. Oh yeah Daft Punk gets it in. I got all their shit, the Movie, the Louis Vuitton mix they did, all that.
 
this is awesome alex.

i was always a little salty over the fact that wayne made boilerplate flood references on the "make it rain" rmx considering how he positions himself as some favorite son/savior/unofficial spokesman of post-katrina NOLA.

the "can't tell me nothing" rmx that blended the kanye/jeezy one and busta/wayne one is awesome. maybe my fav lil wayne quotable of the year, something like "we flying over california, now you see LA like a bruin" (or something like that)

another great one is the "get it shawty" remix with wayne, big boi and chamillionaire, which combined w/ the "i'm so hood" rmx and "international players anthem" kind of got me thinking that big boi might be top 3 as he claims.

anyway thanks for this, a bunch of this shit gets lost in the shuffle when you're just listening to zshares posted on nah right all the time. fun to go back and listen to them outside of the vacuum, even if it's only like 4 months after the fact.
 
I must've totally missed the "Get It Shawty" remix, only one I ever heard was the one with Yung Joc that a lot of stations played as the song's main airplay version. "Can't Tell Me Nothing" was pretty confusing with all its different versions with Beanie/Freeway and the ones you mentioned, but I guess the Kanye/Jeezy one is the official official remix.

But yeah I thought it'd be interesting to kind of go back to these since outside of like 5 that get videos or stay in radio rotation the whole year, these usually disappear after a couple weeks and you just forget about them or whether they were any good. I almost attempted to end this with a remix MVP tally based on the grades and # of appearances/best verses, but it became too much of a logistical nightmare to finish. I was surprised how high Jeezy and Big Boi got, though, and how low Wayne and Andre were (mostly because Andre's big remixes besides "Throw Some D's" dropped in late '06).
 
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