June 07, 2005

Various Artists "motown: remixed"

As hard as it might be at times, a reviewer must be an objective listener. He or she must remove their prejudices when they listen to a record, because the reviewer must suspend their preconceived notions. After all, it's theoretically possible that what might be wrong. Sure, that musician who claims to be a "sexy mix of Peaches and Britney Spears" might be good. That band that proclaims itself to be "like Nirvana without the lyrics that make you think" may very well be genius. That lo-fi folk guy who claims that "I don't really think I'm very good, but I have heart, and I'll let you decide," could possibly be the next Nick Drake.

I met the news of Motown Remixed with a great deal of skepticism. Having grown up listening to the Four Tops, Supremes, Jackson 5, Marvin Gaye and the Temptations, the idea of radically making over these classic songs just didn't seem right, regardless of the intentions of either the label or the remixer. Sorry, it just doesn't play with me. There's no way you can improve on these songs, so why bother? It just doesn't seem to make much sense to me, and after listening to Motown Remixed, I still can't claim to understand why this project exists. I don't know how Motown could possibly think this has some sort of relevence to today; or that the only way "the kids" could appreciate these songs is to have them dumbed down by being run through the Hip Hop Cliche machine.

Modern hip-hop producers and DJ's remixing classic Motown hits? On so many levels, that just doesn't seem right. On one hand, the Verve:Remixed series seemed like it would have been a major disaster, but it turned out better than expected; but on the other hand, the less said of the utterly terrible What is Hip?, the better. To some (this writer definitely included), the Motown catalog is sacred ground, not to be disturbed, lest you want the ghost of Michael Jackson to haunt your ass. It doesn't help that mediocre hip-hop artists and musicians (and Lil Romeo) have vandalized the good Motown name, either. There are only three moments on Motown: Remixed that make this project worthwhile, and that's because Jazzy Jeff's a genius, ?estlove knows a thing or two about good music, and "War" is a song that's malleable enough to withstand reinterpretations.

And you know what? I have to say this now.

"Quiet Storm" DOES NOT NEED TO BE REMIXED, and unless your name is Marvin Gaye, YOU CANNOT MAKE "LET'S GET IT ON" MORE PERFECT! Period. End of story.

For pimping out his children like this, someone should take the Michael Jackson Ugly Stick and repeatedly slap Berry Gordy ten times harder than the Joe Jackson-style bitch-slap that Diana Ross deserves. Black popular culture (and Michael Jackson) already has a tarnished reputation, and ghettoizing the one truly genius creation of 20th Century Black America into the slums of half-assed Urban Contemporary Hip-Hop ain't helping. It's only because God is merciful that P.Diddy wasn't involved with this project. (Maybe even Mr. Combs could see that this project is crap? If so, it only proves that miracles never cease...)

PS. Ain't nothin' like the real thing, baby.

--Joseph Kyle

Project Website: http://www.motownremixed.com
Label Website: http://www.motown.com

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