June 25, 2012

Son Raw checked his calendar: Escobar season has arrived.

All apologies to Deen but The Don connected like a Mike Tyson uppercut in the original Punch Out!, at least on an underground level. Nasir has been a topic of discussion amongst my peers over the weekend and while some would crown him the greatest of all time, a reasonable opinion, I’ve got a hard time supporting a dude who last impressed me with the Thief’s Theme.  The Don changed all of that and reminded myself and a bunch of people why we habitually get mad every time Nas drops a substandard album: it’s because he could do so much more. But hey, it’s 2012 and we’ve all gotten over the fact that the former Escobar as an artiste who’ll do whatever the fuck he wants regardless of what the rest of the world considers good music. DJ Premier collabo? Never going to happen but we’ll still probably have to deal with the aftermath of that Damian Marley album for years to come. Nas knows how to piss me off.

He also makes for great remix material – remember that Biz Markie flip on It Ain’t Hard to tell? – and a couple of interesting takes on The Don have emerged. Now I doubt anyone has actually danced to Nas since You Owe Me but I guess that Supercat vocal inspired a bunch of producers to up the tempo since the original’s on that 90s tempo and DJs aren’t going to mix anything that slow unless it’s an actual dancehall set. Hot City’s flip pretty much eliminates all of that rapping and loops Supercat for what sounds like forever. I wouldn’t bump this one in the headphones but that’s not what it’s meant for anyways.

A Better flip would be Tom Wrecks’ trapped out take which re-organizes the song into a contemporary form familiar to rap fans. At this point I’m not sure if I should applaud the original for sticking to true school ideals or hail this remix for being au-courrant. Rap criticism is funny these days: you’ve got dudes who’ve been supporting down-south music for the past 10 years suddenly jumping on Joey Badass’ bozack.

Finally Massive Attack, yes the Massive Attack, emerge from whatever hole they were hiding in to give the song a slow-and-low Trip-Hop feel. Predictably, it’s the most polished of these mixes and probably the smartest one since it doesn’t up the tempo to chipmunk territory. As for the reason behind it’s release, who knows, I guess these 90s cats are finally running out of money and need to make ends meet. Can’t be mad at that.

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