VH1 prides itself on being a mashup of pop culture, so it seems only fair that we turn our attention to mashups of the musical variety! Although sometimes frowned upon for teetering towards copyright infringement, blends done with exquisite skill create a track that’s greater than the sum of its parts. Done right, a mashup enhances both songs, allowing us to discover new sonic possibilities contained within sounds that had become stale and boring. If that ain’t art, we don’t know what is.
Since the advent of cheap audio editing software and websites like YouTube, it’s become much easier to create and share “revisions” of well-loved tunes. These DJs work hard on their tributes, and so we’d humbly like to offer a showcase for some of our favorites. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Remix Rewind!
To get us started, we tapped Jay-Z to head-up our inaugural post. Mr. Shawn Carter helped spark our love of mashups back in 2004, when his Black Album was expertly mixed with the Beatles’ White Album by DJ extraordinaire Danger Mouse, creating (what else?) The Grey Album. The best of two (very different) worlds blew our 16-year-old mind at the time. So now we’d like to check out 10 other awesome uses of Hova’s verses and beats. Enjoy!
10. National Anthem (Jay-Z vs Lana Del Rey)
We admit, we arrived pretty late to the Lana Del Rey party, but this mix courtesy of 2Vegas has definitely made us converts. Our only complaint is that there’s not enough Jay! But bonus points for the Kanye cameo. And MLK’s verse is pretty dope, too.
9. Juicy State Of Mind (Jay-Z vs. Biggie)
Jay-Z and Biggie Smalls are probably two of the most mashup-friendly artists of all time, so it seems almost too right to hear how well they sync. If he were alive today, we can imagine the Notorious B.I.G. guesting on this love-rap to NYC.
8. Girlfriend In Africa (Jay-Z vs. Toto)
Sorry guys, but “Africa” is probably the least funky record this side of Pat Boone. The fact that members of Toto provided the backing tracks on Michael Jackson’s uber-funky Thriller still boggles our mind. Come on, you can’t share a name with Dorothy’s dog from The Wizard Of Oz and get away with it! But Jay’s duet with the-eventual Mrs. Carter on “03 Bonnie And Clyde” sits in their uptight groove pretty well. Kind of like how sweet and salty go together perfectly in a Reese’s Cup, we did this remixed confection.
7. 99 Red Problems (Jay-Z vs. Nena)
Some mashups are great because they’re so totally out of left field. Others are brilliant because they seem so blindingly obvious. This one is the latter. Jay’s “99 Problems” was begging to be crossed with the euro-pop classic “99 Red Balloons” from day one. There are many variations of it out there, but this one by Party Ben was our favorite.
6. Rolling In The Deep Redux (Jay-Z vs. Adele vs. Biggie)
We liked “Rolling In The Deep” the first six hundred thousand times we heard it. Really, we did. But after 14 months of literally not being able to escape it while walking around the city, it kind of got played to death. But then this mashup brought it back to life. Thank you, Voodoo Farm.
5. The Grey Album’s Encore (Jay-Z vs. The Beatles)
The one that started it for us. All of Danger Mouse’s Grey Album is a masterpiece, this cut is just our personal fave. Record exec’s got freaked, but Jay and Paul McCartney both loved it. So do we.
4. 99 Problems vs. Voodoo Child (Jay-Z vs. Jimi Hendrix)
We know, we did “99 Problems” already! But we liked this one crossed with Jimi Hendrix just as much. Please don’t make us choose! It doesn’t really shift keys, but just goes round and round, hypnotically. Very voodoo.
3. Bittersweet Dirt Off Your Shoulders (Jay-Z vs. The Verve)
Truth time: It’s impossible to listen to this song while walking around and NOT feel like a baller. This one from MTV Mashup the perfect victory song. Or perfect for walking to the deli to pick up toilet paper. It’s just perfect, period.
2. Here Comes The Girls Girls Girls (Jay-Z Vs. Ernie K. Doe)
Although relatively obscure in the states, Ernie K. Doe’s 1970 soul cut “Here Come The Girls” exploded on the British beat scene in 2007 after getting used in a pharmacy commercial. We’re not sure who’s responsible for this incredible mix with Hova’s “Girls Girls Girls”, but we owe them a huge debt of gratitude.
1. December 4th, Oh What A Night (Jay-Z vs. Frankie Valli)
Oh what a remix! It’s fast, furious and flawless. Frakie Valli should do a duet with Jay for reals! You done good, DJ Topcat
It doesn’t make our top 10, but A+ for trying to mix Jay-Z with Lisa Loeb! Keep on riding that ’90s chill-wave, SPMashups.
[Photo: Getty Images]