Tag Archives: zomby

Aaliyah lives on in remixes, samples and covers

On the tenth anniversary of Aaliyah’s death, it’s fair to expect plenty of tributes and memorials for the R&B sensation. Her passing, at the too-soon age of 22, left millions of fans without the singer who dominated and revolutionized the R&B landscape of their youth.

Thankfully, her music lives on. In fact, it’s even found new life thanks to a preponderance of bass music that draws heavily from the R&B of the late 1990s and early 2000s. For these producers, Aaliyah continues to be a muse, much as she was for Timbaland. Here are some of the best remixes, samples and covers of Aaliyah’s work.


“Are You That Somebody”

Brenmar, Cedaa and Deadboy are at the forefront of the rhythm and bass movement, and they’ve all taken one of Aaliyah’s most notable songs for a ride. The first two infused it with a juke and club vibe, amping up the energy on Timbaland’s classic beat, while Deadboy’s version is sparser.

[wpaudio url=”/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/cedaa-aaliyah.mp3″ text=”Aaliyah – Are You That Somebody? (Cedaa remix)” dl=0]

[wpaudio url=”/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/deadboy-aaliyah.mp3″ text=”Aaliyah – Are You That Somebody? (Deadboy remix)” dl=0]

“4 Page Letter”

Montreal’s CFCF drags Aaliyah’s ballad into a moody, skittering exploration of bass. This one wouldn’t be out of place on Tri Angle Records.

“If Your Girl Only Knew”

Japan’s BD1982 gets dissonant on his street bass bootleg of “If Your Girl Only Knew,” juxtaposing Aaliyah’s gentle voice with wobbly synths and twinkling effects.

“One in a Million”

A bit of an outlier, this remix by Wolf D dates back to the song’s original release. However, the bouncy Miami bass beat has come back into vogue, giving this track an old school/new school feel.

[wpaudio url=”/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/wolfd.mp3″ text=”Aaliyah – One In A Million (Wolf D Big Bass Mix)” dl=0]

Moombahton with Sonora

San Antonio producer Sonora has a firm hand on the moombahton derivative moombahsoul, as evidenced by his tropical edits of “Rock the Boat” and “One in a Million” (titled “Amor de Aaliyah”). The latter is an especially smooth edit.


Two masters of post-dubstep bass music have built songs around Aaliyah samples, in different but effective ways. James Blake’s “CMYK” is a grower, and a sample from “Are You That Somebody” soars above waves of synth and sub-bass. Zomby’s rave throwback “Float” features a “Rock the Boat” couplet (“Boy you know you make me float / Boy you get me high”) as its hook.

[wpaudio url=”/wp-content/uploads//2011/08/cmyk.mp3″ text=”James Blake – CMYK” dl=0]

[wpaudio url=”/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/float.mp3″ text=”Zomby – Float” dl=0]

Similarly, both Drake and associated act The Weeknd have used bits of Aaliyah’s vocals for their songs, on “Unforgettable” and “What You Need,” respectively. In the latter, it’s as a distorted loop in the sensual mix.


The XX’s trademarked sound strips R&B down to its minimalist essentials; their cover of “Hot Like Fire” does the same. On the other hand, UK funky vocalist Kyla covers of “At Your Best” much in the same slow jam style of the original.

[wpaudio url=”/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/xx_hot.mp3″ text=”The XX – Hot Like Fire” dl=0]

[wpaudio url=”/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Kyla – At Your Best.mp3″ text=”Kyla – At Your Best” dl=1]

Aaliyah may be gone, but it’s clear that she is not forgotten. A generation of artists continue to pay tribute to the R&B singer, and her voice lives on.

Update: As he’s been known to do, Hudson Mohawke just outdid everyone with his latest remix. Here’s his massive, aqua crunk take on “Are You That Somebody?”

Dubstep Dossier #2

Dubstep and drum-and-bass are kissing cousins, so it’s no surprise to see DnB producers slow down their breakbeats and get in on the subsonic fun. Both lend themselves to massive, enveloping tracks where bass, drums, and synths build and crash like the soundtrack for the Apocalypse, just at different tempos.

Mt Eden, a producer out of New Zealand, has successfully made the transition from DnB to dubstep by remixing and reworking a wide range of tracks. The key for Mt Eden (real name Jesse Cooper) is finding songs with a solid sense of atmosphere and melodrama, qualities that are accentuated by the addition of some wobble: Bat for Lashes’ “Daniel” and Imogen Heap’s “Let Go,” for example.

His track “Sierra Leone” relies on a sample from Freshlyground’s “I’d Like,” adding the original’s trademark ohhs and ahhs to an oscillating bassline and a jumpy backbeat:

Back in the UK, DJ Fresh (of DnB collective Bad Company) also seems to be moving in a dubstep direction. “Fight,” off his upcoming record Kryptonite, features cinematic strings and somber female vox until the chirps and squeals of a tortured synth enter the picture:

Dubstep pioneer Skream‘s nods to DnB are more apparent. His remix of La Roux’s “In for the Kill” (already a dubstep classic) descended into ravey madness with a huge breakbeat. His remix of Zomby’s “Float” is an even more overt DnB revival. The track (with its hilariously cumbersome title “Skream’s I was in infants school where were you in 92 mix”) is monumental: when the bass drops, you just may float off the dance floor:

With the emergence of dubstep and the re-emergence of drum-and-bass, songs that borrow from both genres are sure to be a staple for bass fanatics everywhere. And remember, don’t fear the wobble.

Bonus! Crossover Alert: Caspa – dubstep legend and frequent Rusko collaborator – lends his remix skills to Ludacris’ dance floor sensation “How Low” with fantastic results. Caspa replaces the original’s electro accents with a more bass-heavy feel, and gives the chorus a grinding beat that sounds just like the club-tech of Nadastrom’s remix of “A Milli.” Apparently, you can get even lower with dubstep.