We Got the Remix
lipse, the reliable, droll, and violent Virginia duo, did a fantastic vanishing act after 2000’s Neptunes-captained album, Lord Willin’. One moment, they had that gaudy nerd Pharell tapping them on the shoulders as the heralds of some smelly, crack-rap, V-funk playground; the next, “those crackers weren’t playing fair at Jive,” and the floor fell out from under them. For the past few years, with their nearly-in-the-can sophomore album stalled in label limbo, the duo has depended on the mix-tape industry to keep their names fresh in the minds of hip-hop fans.
The most famous of those, 2005’s We Got It 4 Cheap Vols. 1 and 2, are full of sneering taunts at more fortunate rappers and affection for the trap over the magazine cover. Money is won from coke deals, not videos. Fame comes from elderly fiends. Pride comes from making more on the street than they ever did in the studio.
It was so good, in fact, that Hell Hath No Fury is now off the shelf and finally has an official first single, “Mr. Me Too,” included on Michigan resident DJ Benzi’s scattered, breezy We Got the Remix, a remix plate from underground studio tweakers like Diplo, The Amps, and Ghislain Poirier.
A less cinematic, recognizable selection of melodies than the G-Unit and Dipset thievery of Cheap Vol.1, Remix takes an immediate misstep by favoring the drier, tighter-lipped verses from that same volume over the exclamatory rage of Vol.2.
Benzi probably assumed that any listener has had time to work through both of Cheap’s volumes. It’s a good assumption to make, because although Remix’s sleight-of-hand (Clapton’s “Cocaine” as the new beat behind “Re-Up Anthem”’s guidelines, a plucked string loop piercing the opium haze on “Itchin’ to Get Ya”) is cool for those who know at least a slice of their Virginia’s eerily calm blood money plots, there’s none of the instant narcotic pleasure of hearing the record-label heisting on Cheap Vol.2 for the first time. That’s not a knock against the beats here: thin, exotic flutes (the Clipse, like other Virginia acts, are masters at working with vaguely East and South Asian instruments) and quasar funk keep Clipse fresh. Their verses, while witty, pleasant and occasionally revelatory, do their best work just settling in around a track, soaking up lyrical tone and emotion from the melody.
So if they sound restrained (“Me, my kids / We love Will Smith!) and unconcerned on the disc—if they weren’t so adamant about their willingness to maim and nourish junkies, their propensity to shout out a European couture house almost every eight bars might make them metrosexual—that’s because Remix is an unconcerned album. The remixes are fine and pleasurable—the Tin Pan Alley piano refrain in “Lil’ G’s” stings, “Crew Deep” is a gem of a lost cut—but passionless at times. Once you’ve heard Clipse sum up the conscious/trap rap drama by howling “All I see is blackface, and you playin’ Mammy!” at no one in particular on Vol.2 there’s simply no way that a few new images (their new obsession here are pieces of furniture stuffed with bricks of the white stuff) are going to trump incandescent, deserved, true declarations. That’s counterintuitive praise—“show, don’t tell” still eludes most rappers—but sometimes after cataloging and posturing with no spiritual or visceral kick Remix can sound satiated. That’s a mark against a duo that sounds best fighting from their knees.
Download tracks and buy We Got The Remix here.