This Friday, the Stokely Williams-fronted Mint Condition will be taking the stage at Club Nokia. The group came to prominence in the '90s with the huge hit ballad “What Kind Of Man Would I Be?” But beyond Mint Condition's slick soul moments, the band also embraced the mid-'90s trend of slapping a guest rap onto an r&b track for remix purposes, working with A Tribe Called Quest for a flip of “Let Me Be The One.” Here are Ten of the Best Rapper-Fortified Remixes of R&B Tracks from the era (although if you have an aversion to anything stamped with the seal of Puff Daddy you might want to quit reading now).
10. Horace Brown feat. Jay-Z, “Things We Do For Love (Remix)”
With Jay-Z yet to attain megastar status, and still on the trail of promoting his own Reasonable Doubt project, the improbably-named r&b lothario Horace Brown managed to nab an early Jigga Man guest verse for his sultry calling card. Clark Kent is on the remix, utilizing a classic James Brown break, while Jay goes gambling in Nevada, declares how it's “me and ol' girl against the world,” and then presciently quips, “See you at the platinum party!” Keeping it in the family, Jay's one-time female foil Foxy Brown also graced Brown's “One For The Money” with a similarly affluent cameo.
9. Jodeci feat. Raekwon & Ghostface Killah, “Freek 'N You (Mr. Dalvin's Freek Mix)”
While lovable rap chubster Raekwon opens proceedings here waffling on about iHop, it's Ghostface who coins one of rap's greatest ever boasts about finding success with the opposite sex as he brags about “pulling ladies like a hamstring.” (He fails to state whether he does so while draped in one of his fancy bath robes.) Jodeci member Mr. Dalvin handles the production remix himself, and the ensuing track is a suitably sleazy backdrop for the Shaolin duo's salacious slick talk.
8. S.W.V. feat. The Wu-Tang Clan, “Anything (Old Skool Version)”
“Kaboom! Guess who stepped in the room?” Yep, it's the undeniable team-up of those Sisters With Voices chicks and the rowdy ranks of the Wu. Ol' Dirt Dog, whose own r&b discography also includes dalliances with Mariah Carey and En Vogue, sparks the rap section off, while smokey-voiced Method Man manages to sneak a reference to “killer bees” on to what is ostensibly a sweet lil' love song. (More Ruggedness: The “Allstar Rap Remix” of S.W.V.'s “You're The One” teams up Brooklyn hard-rocks Smoothe Da Hustler and Trigga Tha Gambler with The Lost Boyz for further rap cameo shenanigans.)
7. Mint Condition feat. Phife, “Let Me Be The One (Ummah Remix)”
“I guess we both have seen some brighter days/Somehow the love we shared has slipped away.” So sings Stokely Williams on Mint Condition's underrated '97 single. A Tribe Called Quest's Phife adds the hip-hop sheen with a tasteful rap jeremiad about relationships, although the sports nut still manages to slip in at least one reference to a basketball team. (More Tribe! There's also an (arguably better) remix featuring a guest rap with Q-Tip, which strangely seems absent from YouTube's esteemed vaults.)
6. Macy Gray feat. Mos Def, “I've Committed Murder (Gang Starr Remix)”
The sadly-deceased Guru opens this extreme flip with a brief intro rap, before DJ Premier's chunky production carries Gray's husky vocals about her man's boss, whom she crassly characterizes as “a mean old bitch.” The Mighty Mos Def then pops up to take over the narrative, complete with conjuring up the charming image of the moment “Macy reached for the tool/Made her holler like Ja Rule.” About as unfuckwitable as a rap remix gets.
5. Brandy feat. MC Lyte, Yo-Yo & Queen Latifah, “I Wanna Be Down (The Human Rhythm Hip-Hop Remix)”
A wholesale hip-hop takeover, here a trio of rapstresses relegate Brandy's vocals to chorus duties and put a whole new grown lady spin on the one-time teenage warbler's plea to a potential lover. We're guessing Queen Latifah, who closes out the track, is being incredibly smutty with her opening salvo and reference to a “sexual chocolate bar.”
4. Faith Evans feat. Puffy Daddy, “You Used To Love Me (Puff Daddy Mix)”
A double rap whammy, Puffy's re-fix of Faith Evans' melancholy musing not only features the obligatory rap verse but also jacks most of E.P.M.D.'s “You're A Customer” for its backing. Puff (who humbly anoints himself as “definitely [a] bell-ringer”) cops to “remembering the ways, but you still got me curious.” Of course, the remix also features Puff's signature mumbling all over the whole darn track.
3. Mary J Blige feat. Keith Murray, “Be Happy (Remix)”
One-time E.P.M.D associate Keith Murray might not be the first name that springs to mind if you're looking to add some smooth rap smooching to a track, what with a history that includes rumors he choked a couple of Def Jam employees, but here his collaboration with the original queen of hip-hop soul gels just lovely. Mary is in moody mode, lamenting that she just wants to find peace and enjoy the humble joys in life, while Keith coins the squirm-worthy line, “I spread love like the AIDS virus.” Quite! (Other rapper cameo standouts on Mary J Blige remixes include Biggie, Greg Nice and CL Smooth.)
2. Aaliyah feat. Slick Rick, “Got To Give It Up”
Pedants be quiet: Yeah, this isn't technically a remix, but the combination of R Kelly's one-time possibly under-age flame and rap's king of story-telling is too swoonsome to overlook. A cover of the Marvin Gaye ditty, Aaliyah's coy vocals and the cowbell-propelled groove set things up before The Ruler enters and kicks a rap about his “girlfriend Amanda.” For good measure he then proceeds to croon a line from Aaliyah's own take on the Isley Brothers' “(At Your Best) You Are Love.”
1. Mariah Carey feat. The Lox & Mase, “Honey (The Bad Boy Remix)”
Mariah's collabo with the great unwashed Ol' Dirt Dog is the stuff of legend, but her team-up with Puffy's then pet project The Lox is just as novel, not least with professional Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle-lookalike Jadakiss getting the chance to air out the shiniest golden garb in his wardrobe. Elsewhere in the video, Mase ditches his own shiny suit to rap while dressed up as some sort of air-captain while Mariah sits on his lap. Puffy's ability to entertain should never be doubted.