Hip-Hop and large corporations didn't exactly go hand in hand. Things change however, and when multi-million dollar company Smirnoff launched their new Signature Mix series brand of vodka, the promotional run included exclusive tracks from some of hip-hop's premiere emcees and producers. The idea was to have some of the hottest beatmakers of the day create '08 versions of some of hip-hop's finest's most classic joints. The resulting three songs were made available for free via the now defunct Smirnoff Signature Mix Series website for a limited time, but luckily it didn't took to long before a 12" version was released; featuring the clean edits and instrumentals of the three joints. The idea and execution was a success, promting the brand to repeat the idea the following year; remixing classics by Buckshot, Nas and Nice & Smooth, but thaat's a post for another day. One last thing, the VLS included all the instrumenstals, but here I only featured thevocal mixes. Enjoy!
01. KRS-One / DJ Premier - "Criminal Minded '08"
For us true school heads, the true blessing of this 12" was the DJ Premier and KRS-One collabo for "Criminal Minded '08"; a dark production with a bass keys loop at the center stage; a time machine with sinister beats, ill scartches which inspire KRS to deliver a performance attacking sucker emcees and reminiscing of where he was in life when cooking up the original "Criminal Minded". Personally, I absolutely love this joint and as has been said so many times before, we need that "Return Of The Boom Bip" ASAP!
02. Common / Just Blaze - "The Light '08"
Just Blaze remixes Common's classic J Dilla produced hit single "The Light"; taking a more laid-back approach with piano and strings take the center stage while Marsha Ambrosious takes on the role of Erykah Badu on the original Jay Dee remix. Both Just and 'Com does a pretty good job here, but considering how fantastic the original version was, this is hard to fully appreciate. The scratches near the end is a nice touch though. Considering how superb just Blaze often is, it's a little suprising that this is without a doubt the least intersting song on the 12" single.
03. Q-Tip / Cool & Dre - "Midnight '08"
"Midnight" was and remains one of my favorite tracks from one of my favorite rap albums of all time, "Midnight Mauraders". And as perfect as that record was, the question is whether or not it was a good idea to do a 2008 version of this; produce by Cool & Dre on top of it all. However, Q-Tip gives a great performance on this record, revisiting the origina song topic with new lyrics to great effect. The production is not bad, but Cool & Dre's seems to be aiming to recreate the vibe of the original, but with heavily relying on a electro sounding synthesizer rather than the trusted Fender Rhodes piano that was so prominent on the early Tribe albums. It's an interesting song though, and as it was recored around the same time as The Abstract's "The Renaissance" he is, to me, bringing his A-game here.