July 10, 2014

Max Bell can sing a hook like Alicia Keys

Summer music festivals have become synonymous with performances from the current crop of DJs du jour. If you’ve the funds or connections necessary to attend any one of the major festivals this year, you’re bound to see (or at least past by) one man alone on stage with his computer and Serato, commanding the heading nodding, body heaving MDMA addled hordes.

The probability of hearing a “trap” remix of a rap song actually conceived in the trap during one of these sets is inevitable. Heavy low-end bass will break subwoofers as the pigment challenged chant “O.G. Bobby Johnson” in unison. Hi-hats will skitter over temporarily (perhaps permanently) fractured synapses. Nightmarish or the new wave, choose your own adventure. With the recent offerings from Migos/DJ Carnage (“Bricks”) and Freddie Gibbs/Young Thug/A$AP Ferg/Salva (“Old English”), you might actually hear original and arguably better trap-inflected tracks. Regardless, there will be a festival DJ somewhere playing DJ Sliink’s remix of Danny Brown’s “Smokin’ & Drinkin'” this summer.

The A-Trak and JMIKE produced original was ripe for a remix, possibly the best song A-Track’s ever had a hand in. Ominous, sub-rattling, and tailored for the turn up. In fact, “Smokin’ and Drinkin'” and other electronically inclined songs from Brown’s catalogue either directly or indirectly influenced the aforementioned tracks from Migos and Gibbs et al .

Sliink’s remix succeeds in retaining the aspects of the original that made it so successful: the eerie boinging warble, the foreboding chords, banging drums, and Brown’s inimitable, infectious squawk. The remix’s seemingly obligatory build-up and subsequent drop are predictable but effective nonetheless. The repetition of the hook can be monotonous, but it works best if you let the words become your mantra instead of your menace.

The only glaring negative is that Sliink accentuates Brown’s now trademark phrases like “blunt after blunt” and “check,” reducing Brown’s blazing and deftly rapped first verse to the former. A limitation of form or a just a poor choice, the absence of the verse may lead Brown detractors (read: myopic and tasteless rap listeners/writers)  to continue casting him as a party-crazed caricature. Then again, those people thought that when “Smokin’ and Drinkin'” dropped in its original form. They also probably don’t do enough of either.

Even though the remix isn’t wholly re-imaginative, it’s definitely solid when buttressed by overplayed trap tracks. If you’re looking for added incentive to inhale and imbibe at breakneck speed, it was made for you. If you hate this and hear it at the festival you paid through the grinding teeth to attend, you know what to do.

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