A Tribe Called Quest: Oh My God (Remix)
From “Oh My God” 12″ (Jive, 1993)

Lord Finesse feat. Big L: Yes You May (Remix)
From “Party Over Here” 12″ (Giant, 1992)

If there was a golden age of remixes in hip-hop, it likely began around 1987 with the Coldcut remix of Eric B and Rakim’s “Paid In Full” and ended somewhere around 1995 with the remix of “One More Chance” by the Notorious B.I.G. In between there, remixes were de riguer for your average hip-hop 12″; some songs were virtually redefined by their remixes, from the Pete Rock remix of Public Enemy’s “Shut ‘Em Down,” to De La Soul’s Native Tongues posse cut, “Buddy” to Black Moon’s “Buck ‘Em Down.” I still have found memories of the days where artists might hit you not with one remix but with two or three: anyone remember The Roots’ “Silent Treatment” 12″?

Here are two of my favorites (out of many) from the early ’90s. Tribe’s “Oh My God” took a great song and gave it a remix of at least equal quality (though it’s hard to exceed the OG). What I appreciate about the remix is how different it is: the mood is darker, more reflective compared to the happier, cheery feel of the original. The lyrics are the same but re-rhymed.

In terms of the “Yes You May” remix by Lord Finesse, starring Big L, this far exceeds the original (good as that was) from Finesse’s Return of the Funkyman album. This is strictly some back-in-the-day-when-MCs-could-spit (what up JC!) as L and Finesse murder this song with some of the best braggadocio lyrics ever committed to tape. “I bend a rapper like a fender/I’m slender/but far from tender/killin’ ni**as like a Clan member.” or how about “brothers couldn’t win against with me with their hardest tactics/I hang ’em and use their ass for target practice/if you think you can troop/go get your team or group/we can battle for some loot/shit.” Unfuckwittable.

And the track? That minimalist, smoky drum loop plus the horns on the chorus? Siiiiick.