Well, KJ-52 is back to work. After four solo albums, as well as two side projects, many rappers would be thinking about taking a break, but obviously sleep and rest is not a factor for KJ. It seems that it was about time for something different from KJ, and a remix album seems to be just the thing. The only problem is that most remix albums end up being sad efforts, as with John Reuben a couple years ago, putting out a remix album he had nothing to do with. Fortunately, we need not fear, because the producer for this entire remix album was none other than KJ-52 himself. But do the remixes do any justice to the originals? Could we have a true remix album on our hands?
As like tobyMac did with Renovating Diverse City, KJ-52 has done a great job with the term "remix album" and created true "remixes" in the process. He's taken the songs apart and put them back together in a completely different order, and unlike tobyMac, KJ has even replaced verses with new ones on almost all the songs on this album. Even on the songs he didn't change verses on, you can tell by the first listen that he re-recorded most, if not all of the vocals. For example, with "Dear Slim Pt. 2 (True Story Remix)" re-recording the vocals makes them sound more personal. No, it's not a "Dear Slim Pt. 3," but KJ has added more personality to his rapping, even including the story of how a pastor gave Eminem KJ's original "Dear Slim" song and the witness he was able to be to him, as told by the pastor himself. The beat gives it a darker, more serious feel, and it really makes for a great remix.
Eight of the songs on the album are songs off of KJ's latest release, Behind The Musik. The new verses bring a fresh feel to an already established, critically acclaimed album. But I feel the biggest improvement comes with the older songs that are given the remix treatment, like the skillful "47 Emcees," "Revenge Of The Nerds," and the quirky "Mullet Pride" (the latter which even includes "more cowbell"). The remix for "47 Emcees" is what KJ did with the original, where he had a different beatbox over each verse, except now these are actual beats provided by DJ Morphoziz. KJ has also written a new verse, hailing to the West Coast emcees he didn't mention in the original. It gives the song such a new feel that truly allows it to excel over the original.
Other highlights include "Jesus (Reggaeton Remix)," where KJ showcases his light Spanish skills, while independent Christian reggae artist Funky keeps the Spanish flow going through the remix; "Plain White Rapper (Kalimba Remix)," where KJ basically just accepts the fact that he's just a man, and his career is all because of God, also including 2 new verses; "Things I Like (Timbojones Remix)," where he just continues an already great song about more stuff he likes in life; and "Are You Real? (Oregon Trail Remix)," where Falling Up is showcased in place of the original appearance by Jon Micah of Kutless. Falling Up definitely worked well with KJ on this remix, because the track sounds so distinctive of the band's somewhat signature sound. They even add a completely new chorus to an already memorable song.
The only complaint I could say about this album is the remixed version of "Washed Up," a song from the re-release of Behind The Musik. The original version, according to KJ's podcasts, was too long for him to do live, because it took too much time out of the set. So he double-timed it, making it faster. But the problem with this is that he slurs his raps too much to make the song about 30 seconds shorter, and it basically ruins the song, and hinders its message of the reality of Christ in his life. The part that makes up for this is that the other two songs included on the re-release, "Run For Cover" and "Napoleon Dynamite," are tacked on at the end to complete the record. Hidden at the end, however, is a contest announcement in which KJ has included an instrumental track for his fans to remix and record their own raps of things they like over it.
In the end, KJ has pulled the remix album trick correctly and offers up a fresh new look at some songs that may have never been discovered by some of his newer fans. Definitely a must have for hardcore KJ-52 fans, it's also perfect for those who never picked up the re-release of Behind The Musik for the extra tracks. A definite pleaser!- Review date: 4/21/06, written by Justin Mabee
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