"Boo'd Up" and the dying art of the remix
Our excitement used to stem from being eager to see how the track could be amplified, but due to unoriginality and oversaturation, we have no reason to really care.
—by Kemet High
Alright, maybe this “Boo’d Up” thing has gotten out of hand. Serving as the single to Ella Mai’s third EP Ready, the song has become the auditory drug that we can’t seem to stop playing. This anthem to being inseparable creates no limitations on who can relate, as we’ve watched this track hit the rotation of thugs, teachers, and everything in between. Hailing from London, Ella Mai has been under the wing of DJ Mustard for three years now, but 2018 appears to be the year it started paying off. In months, “Boo’d Up” went platinum, proving that the hype was well worth the build. As listeners increasingly became infatuated with the song, naturally, so did artists.
Plies was the first artist to rip the track back in May. Seeing how most people viewed the song as already golden, an extra verse from the right artist would make it shine even more. And when a song is this good and well-received, typically we see a few artists put their spin on it, like with SZA’s “The Weekend” or DJ Khaled’s “Wild Thoughts,” so maybe one or two would have sufficed. But in the last couple of month’s, “Boo’d Up” has been “remixed” over 10 times from artists like T-Pain, Fabulous, K Camp, Fetty Wap, and Saweetie. The still growing popularity of her song most likely prompted her to drop an official remix, featuring Nicki Minaj and Quavo. And this is where it got out of hand.
A song that we thoroughly enjoyed truly became oversaturated and underwhelming. Having a plethora of artists rip the same beat didn’t even make us blink twice or, in some cases, click twice. With all of these different renditions, we should have been feeling blessed, but we don’t because remixes just don’t feel the same.
It used to be that the most exciting part of a remix was getting more out of something already good. It meant the song was remastered, recreated, and re-valued, in all positive ways. But today, the art of the remix has been damaged by the lack of relevancy and effort, ultimately devaluing the original product. Because we stopped getting more, we want to hear less.
“Boo’d Up” is the modern-day example of how remixes have changed over the past couple of decades. Historically, the idea has always been that the remix is supposed to be better than the original. Now we’re starting to feel like the original should just remain untouched. A remix used to feel different, and that may have stemmed from the impact of musical unity; the best hip-hop remixes happened when artists mobbed on a beat together, rather than releasing their own separate verses.
If we were to take it back to 20 years ago, a remix would sound a lot different. The 1990s is genuinely responsible for musically introducing the term “remix” into the industry. In the early 90s, Craig Mack released the remix to his hit “Flava In Ya Ear,” featuring the likes of Biggie, LL Cool J, Rampage, Busta Rhymes, and a new verse from Craig himself; having that many artists on one song sounded like a street cypher, both authentic and rugged. And the power of a remix stemmed from an artist turning the song into their own, rather than just adding a little taste onto what was previously recorded. As the main artist, even if you didn’t have a new verse, you cosigned and watched as others murdered the beat made famous by you. “Flava In Ya Ear” became the prime example as to how a remix could and should advance the record.
In 1997, Lil Kim’s remix of “Not Tonight” (affectionately dubbed “Ladies’ Night” by fans) would reiterate why remixes were so exciting. We love a unit, and with the right one, a song can get better and better as each second passes. “Not Tonight,” featuring Angie Martinez, Left Eye, Da Brat, and Missy Elliot, was yet another classic that solidified and added definition to the term.
Ten years later, after being defined in hip-hop, remixes now came with an expectation: to elevate and include, meaning the song should be even hotter than the original, and should also include new artists, a new verse, or at least a new beat. In an early 2000s era, when dance music began to thrive and technology began its takeover, the industry got a little more interesting. The spike of phones and the internet allowed for people and artists to connect even quicker, any and everybody could hop on your song with just one call, text, or email. And not much has changed in that sense, but the art has drastically.
Current remixes are mostly composed of the original, with no new beats, chorus, or verses from the original artist, but instead a few tacked-on bars from an officially or unofficially invited guest. Not every remix has to be star-studded to be successful, but that’s that we’ve come to love. Different artists changing the mold of the original gave us the opportunity to fall in love with a song we may have skipped over before. But now, a short, social media-circuited clip of an artist carelessly rapping or singing over a beat while in their car just doesn’t feel the same. And the time has shockingly come where it matters less. We’ve all watched hip-hop change more in the 2010s than any era prior. But with that change, who would’ve thought that the art of the remix would be slowly dying?
Somebody has got to come back and save it. Our excitement for a remix used to stem from being eager to see how the track could be amplified, but without that, and with them being delivered at a increasing speed, we have no reason to really care. The art of the remix is now flooded. And it does nothing but water down the original product.
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