Evan Nabavian sold more powder than Johnson and Johnson.

Inviting your friends over to remix Biggie songs is a really dumb idea unless you’re DJ House Shoes and your friends are today’s eminent left field rap producers. Shoes sent Biggie Smalls acapellas to his buddies and came back with a pack of experimental remixes, a few of which sidestep the usual pitfalls of remaking classic records to great effect.

First, the pitfalls. Blends and mashups of classic records are destined to fail because it doesn’t make sense to “update” a song that’s representative of an era, no matter how sick your beat is. You’re more likely to just give someone a mangled sense of nostalgia for three minutes. Most producers recognize this and opt for more elaborate remixes, but these are often just shitty songs with recognizable samples that artists use to snare traffic from people searching for 90s favorites (by the way, guaranteed coverage to whoever remixes “Too Close” by Next).

The rare remixes that succeed play on nostalgia, but introduce enough new ideas to get somewhere further than Shook Ones 2.5. P.U.D.G.E.’s “Eryday Skrvgglez” dices up Big’s vocals to inject some excitement into a song we all have memorized. It’s akin to listening to a DJ cutting up a record and running back small music moments that we all love (“You better have your gat in hand, ’cause maaan”). The beat turns a fragment of the original into something noisy and bombastic. It’s not a replacement for the original and it doesn’t try to be. Quelle Chris picks a more obscure text from the Biggie canon: a verse from Biggie’s song with Uncle Luke, “Bust a Nut”. Again, the tone shifts completely, this time from sex romp to surreal. Biggie’s voice is retrofitted to a track he scarcely could have found in 1995.

You have to wonder what a rapper who worked with R.A. The Rugged Man and once asked to watch Pete Rock make a beat would be doing now. Which new styles would he mess with, if any? Would superstardom allow him to lend some bars to Alchemist? Games of ‘What If’ are as fruitless as they are sad. It’s disheartening to think that the greatest rapper to ever do it only had time for two albums and some loosies.

ZIP: House Shoes Presents: B.I.G. Reimagined (Left-Click)

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