For The Culture: Remakes That Just Happen To Be Better Than The Originals

remakes

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.

remakes

 9. Summertime– Fantasia

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.

However, his version does NOT make me want to eat a nice crispy batch of wings- all drummies and drink pink moscato. By the time the ending arrives, they are in a full wail. And I’m tipsy as hell singing right along with greasy fingers and chicken bone in mano.

7. “I Feel For You”– Chaka Khan

 1984. Ozone and Turbo. Chaka Khan. Chaka Khan. You said it in that voice, didn’t you? In the 5th grade, I was a breaker and a locker and this was going to be my audition song for ‘Breakin’. Don’t laugh. My parents told me I could do anything I wanted and I believed at 10 years-old that I was going to be in tha movie. Never mind these were fictional characters and I couldn’t make it to Cali on my own. Prince’s legendary falsetto was no match for Chaka’s vocals and the scratches added an unforgettable flavor.

*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.

Panama Jackson, the light-skinned half of VSB, vehemently disagreed with me on this one but he can’t always be right. I can. He can’t. Also,  I’m positive that my Daddy is fighting the air in the ancestral realm at my choice because you couldn’t say NOTHING against about The Isley Brothers.  Love you, Daddy! But you would be wrong as well.

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.

remakes

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.

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K. Araújo, a native Detroiter, is a cross between Claire Huxtable, Rosie Pérez and Millie Jackson. Widow, bruja, Oni Yemaya, palera,  professional dragger of filth and Mami to the dopest Ethiopian EVER, she is the Editor in Chief of “Negra With Tumbao”, Staff Writer for “The Urban Twist” and a freelance contributor for major publications like The Root, VSB, Huffington Post, My Brown Baby and The Glow Up.

​Keka has been known to shake what her mama gave her, is the hell and high water, an expert salsera and cussologist with a penchant for the finer things in life and is and forever shall be- unapologetically black.