Long before the term “mashup” went mainstream I was splicing together audio tracks in college and thinking of it as a “remix” and nothing else. I had plenty of 12″ singles came with acapella vocals or instrumentals in college, so it was nothing for me to take a drop of U-God saying “my hip-hop will rock and shock the nation” and run it back over the track for Biz Markie’s “Studda Step.” Sadly I did not save many of these audio experiments, although I’ve seen a few trimmed down versions of my “Cartman’s Block Rockin Beats” mashup that eventually wound up being uploaded to YouTube — probably because I submitted it to a few South Park fan sites hoping to get noticed.

Speaking of YouTube it’s refreshing to see that audio experiments have gained new life and a much broader popularity thanks to the widespread availability of the platform. While it’s difficult for somebody worried about copyright claims on a video to step up and deliver on a mashup, whether or not “fair use” should cover such experimentation, that hasn’t stopped a whole new generation who is younger and more fearless than I am from taking that chance. As the technology has gotten less expensive and more accessible, the quality of these mashups has gone FAR beyond anything I ever imagined or attempted 20+ years ago. That’s why today I’m sharing five of my favorite hip-hop mashups that either made me laugh, smile, or drop my jaw in awe of what they created. It’s a delicate art to match tempos and styles between widely disparate sources, let alone in combinations that make sense, but these creators deserve props for achieving their audacious technicolor musical dreams.

1.) A-Ha/Kendrick Lamar – “Take On Backseat (n04h Mashup)”

2.) Migos/Rick James – “Bad and Boujee (Can’t Touch This)”

3.) Finn Balor/Will Smith – “Fresh Prince of Balor”

4.) Death Grips/Neutral Milk Hotel/Smashmouth – “Neutral Slam Hotel”

5.) Carly Rae Jepsen/DMX – “X Gon’ Give It to Ya Maybe”