In the latest development from the mixtape blend fad, DJs Roli Fingaz and Chill Will have hit the streets up with the most recent in their series of 8 "Fire Blends." The basic concept of these albums is to blend the lyrics to popular R&B and rap songs with the beats to others. In the past, Roli Fingaz has explored the mixtape, the blend tape, and even gotten in on the Jay-Z remix craze with a "Fire Blends" volume dedicated to Mr. Carter. Part 8 in the saga features artists as varied as R. Kelly, Ying-Yang Twins, and even The Notorious B.I.G.
The problem with these "blends" is that they are completely unnecessary. Kanye West's new-school classic "All Falls Down" certainly won't benefit from a different beat. The result is atrocious. Ditto Jay-Z's "99 Problems". It truly pains me to listen to "Overnight Celebrity" minus Kanye's trademark sped-up vocal samples, especially with the dreadfully bouncy replacement. Even the songs that could use improvement, like Cam'ron's "Shake" are not going to get there through DJ Roli Fingaz and Chill Will's "Fire Blends Part 8." There is simply too much going on, from the generic yelling to the sporadic patching together of poppy hip-hop beats.
To be fair, the blend attempts on this mix cover the spectrum from ridiculous (Method Man and Busta Rhymes' "What's Happening") to decent ("The Saga Continues" by Redman). The DJs do an admirable job of matching vocals up with fitting production. If nothing else, everything sounds professional. The problem is that out of 27 tracks, only a few show any improvement over the originals. Even if the marriage is a success, as with "The Saga Continues," the beat switches up so frequently that a rhythm is never established. As a whole, the mixtape has a frenetic feel, and it is difficult to maintain enjoyment of something so scattered and uneven.
Some of these remixes are worse than bad. In the case of Mobb Deep's "Got it Twisted," which is hooked up to the "Tipsy" beat, I can't help but wonder what they were thinking. Granted, the original version was one of the Mobb's most accessible songs, but the "Grindin'"-esque production is COMPLETELY out of place. I'd love to see the look on Havoc's face when he hears it. This combination is inexplicable, and any Mobb Deep fan will cringe at the sound.
I don't understand the allure of a mixtape consisting of the vocals of famous songs remixed over the beats to other famous songs. These are essentially remixes, flipping other popular beats over the vocals instead of new ones. In rare cases, I can imagine a remix of this type being a triumph over the original. There are flashes of this on "Fire Blends Part 8." For example, D12's "40oz." is actually an improvement, with 2 separate pounding beats accentuating the group's unique vocal stylings. Alas, these moments are scarce. This addition to the "Fire Blends" series comes off as a messy blend of recognizable sounds and popular verses, with the occasional voice loudly advertising for the DJs. Someone must be buying, otherwise eight of these wouldn't be in circulation. Still, if you can get your hands on the real versions, you are very much better off. There really isn't anything outstanding about what these two have done. If anything, just turn on the radio for the original versions and save yourself the money.
Music Vibes: 4 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 4 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 4 of 10
Originally posted: June 1, 2004