April 29, 2010
A Reader's Gut Reaction: Amplive - Rainydayz Remixes (2008)
(Today, frequent contributor Dag Dilligent decided to jot down some words about a free project from Amplive entitled Rainydayz Remixes. He explains it in a bit more detail below. Be sure to leave some comments for him when you're done reading.)
Once upon a time, a DJ from California named Amplive decided to do a hip hop overhaul of one of his favorite albums: In Rainbows by Radiohead. He pulled a few West Coast emcees to lay down some rhymes, mixed up some beats, and posted his work, which he named Rainydayz Remixes, online. Unfortunately, he never asked for Radiohead's permission to use their music, and he quickly received a cease and desist order. He pulled the album and made a YouTube video directed at Thom Yorke (the head honcho of Radiohead) requesting permission to release the album. The video gained popularity, and some fans made videos of their own petitioning the release of the remixes. Eventually, Yorke and company gave their blessing, and Rainydayz Remixes was posted online for free.
I am a huge Radiohead fan, and In Rainbows is also one of my all time favorite albums. So you could say I was extremely skeptical about any remixes, especially since most Radiohead remixes tend to be absolute garbage, and mixing rap and rock typically produces nothing but pure sewage. So could Amplive, someone I'd never even heard of, pull off something so challenging?
The album kicks off with an extremely skippable (but short) intro.
2. VIDEO TAPEZ (FEAT DEL THA FUNKEE HOMOSAPIEN)
This track is a almost a direct translation of the slow but excellent original song "Videotape". Amplive steps up the tempo significantly with a nice piano sample from the original looped over a quick beat; he then adds a decent bass line and some good instrumentation. The chorus is from the first lines of the original with Del spitting a few solid verses. Everything fits together well, so this was a nice way to start the album.
3. NUDEZ (FEAT TOO $HORT & MC ZUMBI OF ZION I)
Definitely the best track on the album. It has a slamming beat pulled lightly from the song "Nude", but quickly establishes its own path. Too $hort and MC Zumbi both tear up the beat and sound really good over Thom Yorke's highly disassembled and looped voice. MC Zumbi and Amplive form the Oakland underground group Zion I, so his appearance in this album is no surprise, but he gets solidly owned by hip hop's reigning pimp Too $hort, who would be tough for anyone to follow on here. The best part of this song is the extended instrumental that gives the song a long finish after a nice change up, as it really slams and should be heard by all. Amazing.
4. WEIRD FISHEZ
After some unnecessary hard chopping at the beginning or this track, it really comes to life as its own beast. It's constructed from "Weird Fishes/Arpeggi", and it is basically a drum and bass instrumental that hits really hard. As the beat flows, Amplive mixes a few original vocals from Thom's "Weird Fishes" and cuts them into an amazing track. My only complaint is the drum machine solo, but I can live with it in order to hear the rest.
5. ALL I NEED
The original Radiohead version of this song is one of the best they've ever done. This remix, however, is torture. You'll know this track is bad from the first few notes, and you'll be temped to skip the song (which I encourage). I think Amplive was going for the same concept as the previous song (a hard instrumental redo), but this time he went too far. The beat is heavy on the drum machine and synthesizer but weak on the substance. The beat is quick paced and overproduced, with distracting echoing "horns", and an awful vocal loop. It reminded me of the novelty song "Inner City Pressure" by Flight of the Conchords, except that song was trying to be corny.
6. 15 STEPZ (FEAT CODANY HOLIDAY)
This is quite a departure from the rest of the album, as Amplive pulls a few of Thom Yorke's lines from "15 Step" and lays them over a hard guitar riff, reimagining the rest of the song as smooth reggae. The beat is okay, up-tempo, and moves well, containing a surprising complexity which makes it better than it should be. As a fan of the original, I really like this version, but it doesn’t have much to do with hip hop.
7. RECKONERZ (FEAT CHALI 2NA)
One of the best tracks on the album, with a dark and moody beat pulled roughly from the song "Reckoner". Amplive chopped up some of Yorke’s moaning to make a pretty ill loop. Chali 2na, formerly of the Jurassic 5, drops some solid shit on a conscious angle. Amplive throws in a terrible drum and voice breakdown, but it’s not enough to ruin the track as a whole. Your best bet is just to pretend as though you don't hear it when it comes on. Good song otherwise.
This is a raw remix of the original "Faust Arp". It has a great beat that drives the loop well and works great under a chopped version of York's original vocals. This is just a highly repetitive and upbeat remix. There is no emceeing here, but it works great, Amplive definitely has an ear for this type of shit.
SHOULD YOU TRACK IT DOWN? Amplive truly delivered with Rainydayz Remixes. This is the remix album that definitely didn't need to happen, as the original In Rainbows is unbelievably good. While I wouldn't say that this is an improvement, it has some substance that should appeal to hip hop heads. Rainydayz Remixes has only one bad song and a few too many stupid drum machine breakdowns, but otherwise it is solid. Not every song is hip hop and it definitely won’t appeal to everyone, in fact, it might only appeal to Radiohead fans who like hip hop (of which there are a lot more in the world than one may believe). So if that's you: if you like In Rainbows and, yet, you're still reading hip hop blogs, you will definitely find something that you'll like on Rainydayz Remixes. Besides, this is short, good, and most importantly, free. Even straight-up hip hop heads will find themselves surprised.
For those of you who are interested, you can download Rainydayz Remixes by going to this site.
(Complaints? Concerns? Have something to share? Then you should probably leave some comments below.)