“Panda” is unorthodox, baffling, an imitation of a rapper with too many imitators. I assumed the song would only be heard after Kanye’s part on "'Pt. 2," I never saw it being much bigger.
Still, by some Based God miracle, Desiigner rose to number one on the charts and solidified “Panda” as a hit record. I thought having Kanye featured in the video was a victory, but what I didn’t expect was the announcement that a "Panda (Remix)" would be released on the Cruel Winter album that features every member of G.O.O.D Music. To turn “Panda” into a 15 minute Avenger short-film felt like the tactic of a madman.
Then it hit me. This move would be no different than an old tactic that just isn't practiced very often now. I clearly remember during the ringtone era that a popular record was usually followed up by a massive posse-cut remix that made absolutely no sense. If it was hot, on the radio, in the clubs, or burning up the streets, everybody and their momma was called. I imagine Kanye will be bringing back the massive, extended remix by using the biggest song to come out of G.O.O.D Music since “IDFWU.”
The last person I remember bringing their entire crew together to be showcased on a song was Lupe Fiasco’s “I’m Beaming (Remix).” It was the first and only time that the All City Chess Club gathered together for a single record. The song features Asher Roth, Charles Hamilton, Lupe Fiasco, The Cool Kids, Blu, Diggy Simmons, Dosage and B.o.B all gathering together as a supergroup to exercise their prowess as lyricists for eight minutes. I remember being more excited about the lineup than the results. There’s bars, a barrage of them, but you don’t feel compelled to return and really sit with the song. J. Cole and Wale were the only two members missing from the equation, sadly the All City Chess Club never met up after the release. Another group with potential that stopped before they could get started - just like CRS.
Game’s “One Blood” wasn’t big on the radio like "Hate It Or Love It," but it was a solid single to announce his return post-Documentary without Dr. Dre or 50 Cent. He filled the void of his G-Unit separation by releasing a 24 artist remix, extending the song to almost 12 minutes. It’s like one of those massive rap showcases where there’s two dozen acts on the bill and everyone performs only one song. The entire thing is pretty unnecessary but where else will you get to hear Chamillionaire, Young Dro, E-40, and Ja Rule on one song? My favorite part isn’t even who's on the track, but rather who isn’t. Game said on the original, “I made room for Jeezy / But the rest of you niggas better be glad you breathin,” but then he didn’t leave room for Jeezy on the remix.
When it comes to filling his hit records with a plethora of guests, no one does it better than DJ Khaled. Before he discovered Snapchat his entire marketing strategy was to create records with big features and then make the remix with even bigger features. I’m pretty sure he turned down zero verses when deciding to make “I’m So Hood” into a six minute long celebration of area codes. It had nothing on cult-classic “Welcome To Atlanta” but he did receive a pretty good Luda verse when at the time they were mostly scarce. You also can’t forget the “Welcome To My Hood Remix,” a different song, a different cast of artists, but the same concept. Khaled is excellent at recycling usual suspects - T-Pain is literally on everything - and song ideas but repackaging them as new bangers. Somehow they continue to work and Khaled continues to win, which is why “All I Do Is Win (Remix)” is both annoying and yet very fitting of a man who mastered social media.
You knew a single was really popping from a new artist when the remix would surface and they were surrounded by much bigger names. It’s a cheat code, drawing people in by dangling someone familiar, someone more famous. In the event there was any doubt, you knew Hurricane Chris' “Ay Bay Bay” was a monster when the label brought in Game, E-40, Lil Boosie, Angie Locc and Jadakiss to add a bit of oil on the fire. Nothing about this collection of artists make any sense. You can tell how old this record is by Game referencing the spinners on his rims, but don’t sleep on Jada’s verse. Rich Boy also got a monster remix after “Throw Some D’s” propelled him to national spotlight. This was when André 3000 features were more consistent than Frank Ocean sightings. He killed the first verse, the other four minutes are underwhelming in comparison. Where did Rich Boy find Murphy Lee is the real question?
Very few mega remixes are as forgettable as YC’s “Racks” and Mykko Montana’s “Do It.” The entire label’s budget was spent on these lineups and the results were both lackluster. Both songs also feature Nelly, it was the very moment that I realized Nelly had entered into the most washed phase of his career. Also, notice the quality of these music videos, despite the cameos, they are very basic. I'm certain the budget was $1,000, a green screen, and a bottle of Hennessy.
The “Deuces” remix was a huge deal with an all star line up - Chris Brown and Tyga scored Drake, T.I., Kanye West, Fabolous, Rick Ross, and André 3000 all on one song. Drake sounds comfortable, T.I. and Kanye are uncomfortably angry, I've never been fond of Ross on R&B records, Fab's verse is cringeworthy, and André sounds like he just woke up from a deep slumber but delivers another awesome story. It’s like a dream team, but with nightmarish chemistry.
The one really big remix that I will always remember is Busta Rhymes “Touch It.” This is the one that you watched on Rap City when you came home from school, after hearing it on the radio and seeing it again as number one on 106 & Park. It was everywhere. Busta, Mary J. Blige, Rah Digga, Missy Elliott, Lloyd Banks, Papoose - his verse was insane. And don’t forget DMX, he sounded like he was going to rip your entire face off. It was the ideal big remix at the time, bigger than "Pass The Courvoisier Part II." The remixed "Touch It" reminded me of the reaction that followed Fat Joe's "Lean Back" remix. The Mase and Eminem appearances shook the world. I can only imagine how the reception was for Craig Mack’s “Flava In Ya Ear” remix or De La Soul's "Buddy" remix.
It seems to be fairly rare to see the big, mega remix anymore. You think about huge records like Weeknd’s “Can’t Feel My Face,” Fetty Wap’s “Trap Queen” or Bryson Tiller’s “Don’t” that weren’t followed up with a big featured remix. Artists seem to be more strategic about creating massive moments with the right feature than trying to utilize their every industry contact.
Kendrick didn’t create a West Coast remix for “Kill My Vibe,” he went and grabbed the one feature that would halt the world - Jay Z. Fat Joe did the same with the “All The Way Up” remix. Anyone that wasn’t Jay would have been yesterday's news within hours, despite how great Remy’s verse is. Drake doesn’t usually do remixes but Bieber on “One Dance” is perfect marketing, the record could be mediocre and it wouldn’t change the fact streaming numbers will be off the charts because of Justin.
We are in a different time, where more doesn’t equate to merrier. An unnecessarily long version of “Panda” doesn’t make any sense in 2016, but Kanye West isn’t a man that cares about the logical. He posed a question on the song “Feedback,” “Name one genius that ain't crazy?”
He may be crazy and this G.O.O.D Music mega remix might be the craziest thing he pulls off in 2016, but there’s a small chance it could be genius and for that reason alone. I’ll be listening.
Yoh, Sir Yohcious L. Leftfoot, aka @Yoh31.