Jill Scott - Crates: Remix Fundamentals Vol. 1 (2012)

Jill Scott
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There is no set template in place when it comes to a musical remix: there can be vocals grafted onto a different track, a tempo change or even the addition of new voices like a continuation of the initial version. But even if there isn’t a required standard to follow, what makes a remix successful is when it expands a project’s range and appeal while staying true to its original essence, which is true for about half of the latest recalibration of Jill Scott’s Hidden Beach era catalog, Crates: Remix Fundamentals Vol. 1.

There is no set template in place when it comes to a musical remix: there can be vocals grafted onto a different track, a tempo change or even the addition of new voices like a continuation of the initial version. But even if there isn’t a required standard to follow, what makes a remix successful is when it expands a project’s range and appeal while staying true to its original essence, which is true for about half of the latest recalibration of Jill Scott’s Hidden Beach era catalog, Crates: Remix Fundamentals Vol. 1.

Comprised of ten tracks spanning seven years and three CDs, Crates features a send-up of Jilly’s best-known hits and a few ‘cult classics’ that fans gravitate to when performed live:  “Love Rain [The Key West Mix]” is fetching and fluid, pairing that familiar bittersweet prose and refrain with actual hints of thunder, flutes and crisp segments of high-hat, and “Slowly Surely [The Teddy Vee Remix]” anchors her lilting delivery with percolating drum kicks and reverberating mid-range keyboards. The soul quotient is upped on “Brotha [The Inferno Mix],” thanks to its shakers, bongo drums and chants from the Motherland, and “Golden [The B-Sharp Afro-Centric Mix]” is recast on a sparser arrangement that’s less urgent that its buoyant original, but the swaying rhythms via the xylophones and double-timed percussion make it versatile enough for yoga meditation or a Zumba workout.

Unfortunately, the first few reinvented tracks go from interesting to excruciating, as if they came from a lost Chappelle Show sketch entitled “When ‘Remixing A Hit’ Goes Wrong”: the first four all but vaporize the earthy appeal out of Ms. Scott’s deliveries by speeding them up, looping or auto-tuning them to death, resulting in hollow, monotonous, and ultimately mechanical space-fillers. The most tolerable of the mid-tempo selections are “Talk To Me [The 314 Mix],” which layers her soothing pleas over a feverish, hiccup-type groove, and “Come See Me [The B-Sharp Clubin Mix],” which remains seductive even with a revved-up tempo, thanks to its sinuousness and vintage 80s edges. “Spring Summer Feeling [The Ron Trent Mix]” weaves her higher register into strings and maracas for an airy and atmospheric vibe that allows the spirit of her confession to remain intact (“It takes more than diamonds to move me; it takes more than money to groove me.”).

Because it’s hard to go wrong with the galvanizing and gifted Jill Scott, devoted followers will find more than enough to upload and enjoy; for others, it’s probably better on a track-by-track basis, since some of this Crate’s contents are little more than deadweight.  Cautiously Recommended.

By Melody Charles

 

 

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