The month of June was declared Black Music month in 1979 by President Jimmy Carter. But if you have been with us for awhile you know we don’t wait for permission to celebrate our creative genius. (See some of our other posts on music here, here, and here.) When it comes to creativity among other things, Black people are simply outstanding. I believe at the core of this brilliance is the determination to re-imagine and reinterpret our existence in a hostile world. In so many ways music has been our means of survival and a form of resistance.
As we delved into the idea of “Music as text” in our Woke Cypha, we have never lost sight of just how dope hip-hop is. Each of us, Khalilah, Nakeeba and I, certainly have our own preferences in terms of the artists that we like and we may even have some in common, but it is the shared recognition that our music is so rich and layered that it cannot be ignored. Complex Magazine features a great top 15 list of hip-hop remixes that is worth checking out to see if you agree with their choices.
One that made their list is “I’ll Be There for You/You’re All I Need to Get By” (“Puff Daddy Remix”)—Method Man featuring Mary J. Blige. For me this song is the ultimate in not only remixes but also collaboration, bringing together the musical worlds of hip hop and R&B and all the while paying homage to an original Motown classic, You’re All I Need to Get By. The original duet originally recorded in 1968 by none other than silky soul singer, Marvin Gaye and the talented Tammi Terell.
Although Gaye and Terrell’s version expresses a joyful celebration of love, Method Man and Mary J. Blige’s 1998 take added layers of meaning to the story of two young lovers determined to be there for each other in the face of all obstacles. Method’s verses speak for themselves.
“Back when I was nuttin
You made a brother feel like he was something
That’s why I’m with you to this day boo no frontin
Even when the skies were gray
You would rub me on my back and say “Baby it’ll be okay”
Now that’s real to a brother like me baby”
This remix is not only brilliant but it also demonstrates the genius in our creativity and our ability to re-tell and refine our stories to reflect our present realities. Mary and Method were extolling that “ride or die” kind of love, a love that endures in the face of harsh realities, both personal and political. This remix shows how we can take something from our parents or grandparents era and make it our own.
We see this continually throughout Black music whether it is a remix, sampling, allusions or a new rendition of a classic. All of these methods are a kind of lyrical or musical Sankofa, by honoring what came before us. In many ways it makes our music an ongoing adventure, where you are always discovering a history and a connection. If you have time this weekend check out the story behind your favorite remixes, you may be surprised at what you learn.
Peace and love good people.
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