I find solace in music. Especially listening to my jams on vinyl. The crackling of the needle on the record is sexy as fuck. I grew up in a house listening to everything but my first love is R&B. My Daddy was a singer, among other things, and played bass for “The Spinners” when he lived in California during the 60’s so my penchant for good music runs deep.
As much as I love the classics, there are some tunes which have been remade that are better than their original counterparts. For the record, I’m not a fan of remakes but THESE are the business! Let’s compare notes.
10. “Turn Your Lights Down Low”– Lauryn Hill and Bob Marley
The original is nice but the remake is pure FIRE! I haven’t been a fan of Ms. Hill for a minute. This performance is one of her best performances. You could hear the love in her voice even though her and Rohan Marley’s relationship was tumultuous to say the least. That emotion translated well with this 1999 gem.
Fanny SANG this. Not Fantasia. Not Tasia. FANNY from muthafuckin’ North Carolina. She was out here convincing heads that their daddies were rich and they didn’t even know those niggas. In fact, heads were sending out whole ass search parties to find those jokers but they came back empty-handed.
It’s been sung by the greats.
It’s so soul-stirring that a plate of fried catfish, potato salad, macaroni and cheese,greens and cornbread; magically, appeared in front me when I was listening to it. I ate that shit too.
This is the only version I want to here- ever. It’s brilliant.
8. “Lately”– K-Ci & Jojo
As my niece and nephew’s old ass Titi, I can appreciate the drunken, stylings of K-Ci and Jojo on this track. Stevie Wonder IS A LEGEND. Again. Stevland Hardaway Judkin (Morris) IS A GOD DAMN LEGEND. I mean only a name like this could breed that type of talent.
7. “I Feel For You”– Chaka Khan
*Sidebar* My parents’ extreme encouragement of my ideas is the reason why I called ABC Studios in 1982 looking for Janet Jackson after this performance on American Bandstand. Yes, I called information to get the number of a tv studio in LA to speak to Miss Jackson. Yes, those charges showed up on the phone bill. Yes, I got my ass whooped. But I follow my dreams. DAMMIT!
6. For The Love Of You– Boyz II Men
I fux with the Isley Brothers. HEAVY. I CANNOT “Ladaladalaaaaaaaaaaaaa” and not NOT think about how Mr. Bigs is 146 years-old and his singing game is still real proper like.
Bruh. My nigga. Boyz II Men’s rendition of this 1975 timeless love song is the best remake I’ve heard and there have been many. Wanye does have a tendency to jawjack his way through a song but he kept it chill for this and it was just perfect in every way. Of course, Shawn Stockman can do no wrong. He is a master of his craft. And that combination is epic.
5. Angel– Lalah Hathaway
From the arrangement to her sexy, thick contralto tickling the melody without being too heavy, Ms. Lalah came to snatch edges with this remake. As a native Detroiter, I almost felt like I was betraying my city adding this song to the list. Hell- if you squint really hard and tilt your head left; you’ll be able to see my baby sister and me skating together in Anita Baker’s “Same Ole Love” video. That’s how hard I ride for Ms. Baker. But even Anita Baker KNOWS that Hathaway didn’t come to play. She passed Donny’s baby girl the mic in various shows knowing that it was time for her to have a seat. Sometimes, you just gotta know your lane.
4. My Funny Valentine– Chaka Khan
There are 50-leven versions of this classic jazz standard. Etta James, Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughn are just a few of the goddesses who’ve lent their beautiful voices to this song. *singing* “But Can’t Nobody…” outdo the incomparable Chaka Khan. She is known for being a vocal powerhouse. And the ONLY songstress who can belt out melodies in her full on, brassy open mouth singing voice and it remains amazing.
3. Creepin’– Luther Vandross
First of all, Stevie Wonder’s version is the shit.
However Luther’s version follows “If Only For One Night”- one of his top 10 best songs. Literally, my childhood doesn’t exist without this song. My mami had every Luther album known to man and I loved to watch my parents dance to slow songs. His voice was so velvety smooth. Like the heat on my feet when I wear flip flops in the car. It’s comforting. Quite frankly, your childhood sucked if your mama and daddy weren’t playing this on Saturday night when their friends came over to chill and play bid whist.
“Sing it for me 4 times…Creep. Creep. Creep Creep!”
2. I’m Every Woman– Whitney Houston
Of course, Whitney Houston was going to be at the top of the list. Not only did she sing the shit out of this song but she completely redid it into a house track. And featuring an all-black female cast in her video of stars- young and old, she did it for the culture!
But don’t get it twisted, Chaka’s flow is fire but Whitney…
1. I Will Always Love You– Whitney Houston
With one of the most beautiful voices known to any genre of music, Whitney Houston’s version of Dolly Parton’s country classic is the only version we, in the black delegation, recognize. This is THE remake of all remakes. That opening “If I” is sang with such a tender, soft vibrato takes me out. My eyes water every time. By the bridge, I’m a teary, snotty mess. Ugly crying and shit. And no longer able to sing the power notes in natural because I’m all cried out and only falsetto can help me. Chile! Issamess.
I reserved a spot for 10 but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Brownstone’s outstanding remake of The Eagle’s “I Can’t Tell You Why”. It really should be on this list.Good music has gotten me through the darkest moments in my life. Shout out to all of the black artists who may or may not be recognized. Music has always been woven into the fabric of Black diasporan culture and we appreciate your contributions to the culture.