Remix - Urban Music

Urban Music

Remixes have become the norm in contemporary dance music, giving one song the ability to appeal across many different musical genres or dance venues. Such remixes often include "featured" artists, adding new vocalists or musicians to the original mix. The remix is also widely used in hip-hop and rap music. An R&B remix usually has the same music as the original song but has added or altered verses that are rapped or sung by the featured artists. It usually contains some if not all of the original verses of the song however, these verses may be arranged in a different order depending on how the producers decided to remix the song.

In the early 1990s, Mariah Carey became one of the first mainstream artists who re-recorded vocals for a dancefloor version, and by 1993 most of her major dance and urban-targeted versions had been re-sung, e.g. "Dreamlover". Some artists would contribute new or additional vocals for the different versions of their songs. These versions were not technically remixes, as entirely new productions of the material were undertaken (the songs were "re-cut", usually from the ground up). In 1988, Sinéad O'Connor's art-rock song "I Want Your (Hands On Me)" was remixed to emphasize the urban appeal of the composition (the original contains a tight, grinding bassline and a rhythm guitar not entirely unlike Chic's work). M.C. Lyte was asked to provide a "guest rap," and a new tradition was born in pop music. George Michael would feature three artistically differentiated arrangements of "I Want Your Sex" in 1987, highlighting the potential of "serial productions" of a piece to find markets and expand the tastes of listeners. In 1995, after doing "California Love", which proved to be his best selling single ever, Tupac Shakur would do its remix with Dr. Dre again featured, who originally wanted it for his next album, but relented to let it be on the album All Eyez on Me instead. This also included the reappearance of Roger Troutman, also from the original, but he ended the remix with an ab lib on the outro. Another well-known example is R. Kelly, who recorded two different versions of "Ignition" for his 2003 album Chocolate Factory. The song is unique in that it segues from the end of the original to the beginning of the remixed version (accompanied by the line "Now usually I don't do this, but uh, go ahead on, break em' off with a little preview of the remix.") In addition, the original version's beginning line "You remind me of something/I just can't think of what it is" is actually sampled from an older Kelly song, "You Remind Me of Something". Madonna's I'm Breathless featured a remix of "Now I'm Following You" that was used to segue from the original to "Vogue" so that the latter could be added to the set without jarring the listener.

Many hip-hop remixes arose either from the need for a pop/R&B singer to add more of an urban, rap edge to one of their slower songs, or from the need for a rapper to gain more pop appeal by getting an R&B singer to sing some lines here and there. When a song by a solo artist does not take off, a remix with additional performers can give the song a second chance.

Thanks to a combination of guest raps, re-sung or altered lyrics and alternative backing tracks, some hip-hop remixes can end up being almost entirely different songs from the originals. An example is the remix of "Ain't It Funny" by Jennifer Lopez, which has little in common with the original recording apart from the title.

Slow ballads and R&B songs can be remixed by techno producers and DJ's in order to give the song appeal to the club scene and to urban radio. Conversely, a more uptempo number can be mellowed to give it "quiet storm" appeal. Frankie Knuckles saddled both markets with his Def Classic Mixes, often slowing the tempo slightly as he removed ornamental elements to soften the "attack" of a dancefloor filler. These remixes proved hugely influential, notably Lisa Stansfield's classic single "Change" would be aired by urban radio in the Knuckles version, which had been provided as an alternative to the original mix by Ian Devaney and Andy Morris, the record's producers.

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