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Remix Report Card

The Winter Remix Report Card

Remy Ma teams up with another Nicki Minaj foe, Katy Perry works with Lil Yachty, and Lil Bibby gets the Kevin Gates verse of the year.

Al Shipley

The early months of 2017 have been relatively quiet on the rap remix front. But things have started to pick up, with an epic verse Kevin Gates recorded before going behind bars last year, Remy Ma teaming up with another Nicki Minaj foe, and E-40 offering sage business advice.

"Both (Remix)" by Gucci Mane featuring Lil Wayne and Drake

Last summer, after the release of "Back On Road," I wrote on Noisey that "it would be depressing for Gucci Mane to become yet another rapper who only gets on the radio when Drake throws them a bone." And, features like "Black Beatles" notwithstanding, that's exactly what's happened recently with "Both," Gucci's biggest solo hit since "Wasted." The Wayne verse appended to the song here is all right, with the now compulsory shots at Cash Money ("I shoulda left with Juvie"). But mostly it's a welcome change of pace from the original song's verses, one of Drake's worst and Gucci's sleepy repetition of various rhymes from "Photoshoot." 

Best Verse: n/a
Overall Grade: C+

"Buy Back the Block (Refinance)" by Rick Ross featuring Nipsey Hussle, Slim Thug, E-40, and Fat Joe

Rick Ross's recent single "Buy Back the Block" was, despite being left off of Rather You Than Me, a pretty perfect little posse cut featuring 2 Chainz and Gucci Mane verses that are hard to top. But Rozay revisited the black-owned business anthem with a "refinance" rather than a remix, with four of rap's hardest-working entrepreneurs expanding on the song's concept, and everyone rose to the occasion. 

Best Verse: E-40
Overall Grade: A

"Chained To The Rhythm (Remix)" by Katy Perry featuring Lil Yachty

The uncharacteristically dark, socio-politically charged lead single to Katy Perry's next album has been iffy on the charts. And instead of getting a woke rapper to double down on the song's themes for the remix, Perry instead drafted one of rap's most colorful new personalities to lighten up the song over a trap beat. It's a little disorienting and off-putting, but then, so is the original. 

Best Verse: n/a
Overall Grade: D

"Down (Remix)" by Marian Hill featuring Big Sean

The Philadelphia duo Marian Hill's single "Down" is one of those chilly, unobtrusive indie electro songs that only seems to get on the pop charts if it's featured in an Apple ad campaign, which it was. So it's a little odd to see one of the goofiest rappers in the mainstream at the moment thrown on the official remix, although Big Sean does his best to mutter with his inside voice and not disrupt the vibe. 

Best Verse: n/a
Overall Grade: C

"I Don't (Remix)" by Mariah Carey featuring Remy Ma and YG

It's hard to ignore that one of Remy Ma's first features since dissing Nicki Minaj is a remix for old Nicki foe Mariah Carey. And whether or not the timing is a coincidence, it's amusing to hear Remy invoke one of her "Shether" catchphrases ("are you dumb!?") in her brief verse. 

Best Verse: n/a
Overall Grade: B

"Location (Remix)" by Khalid featuring Lil Wayne and Kehlani

Texan teen Khalid's debut single was, in my opinion, a pretty great song to begin with. And there's nothing wrong with this remix per se, but it just feels like a lot of empty calories were added to it. One of the local stations I listen to put the remix in rotation in place of the original, and I now feel actively annoyed by it. 

Best Verse: Kehlani
Overall Grade: D+

"Skateboard P (Remix)" by MadeinTYO featuring Big Sean

Would it be too on the nose for MadeinTYO's homage to Pharrell Williams to feature the man himself, or someone more indebted to the Neptunes producer like Tyler, The Creator? Perhaps. But Big Sean at least sounds good on the beat, and I kind of enjoy his self-referential closing lines: "Treat my first day like it's my last / boy, my first single was 'My Last,' that should show you right there where I'm at." 

Best Verse: n/a
Overall Grade: B-

"You Ain't Gang (Remix)" by Lil Bibby featuring Kevin Gates, Lil Durk, and Dej Loaf

There's been a slow, steady trickle of new Kevin Gates music over the last six months that he's been locked up. And his snarling 20 bars at the end of this remix to Chicago rapper Lil Bibby's latest underground hit are probably the best new Gates verse we have until he comes home. 

Best Verse: Kevin Gates
Overall Grade: B+

Al Shipley is a writer based in Maryland. Follow him on Twitter .