A good remix can not only inject new life into a certified banger, but it also has the potential to outshine the original. In the '90s, many established R&B superstars turned to their Hip-Hop peers to create synergy between the genres — solidifying the notion that smooth edges and rugged textures could coexist on wax.
Here are 26 Hip-Hop remixes of R&B songs that will still be here when we're all long gone.
Aaliyah feat. Slick Rick, “Got To Give It Up”
The pairing of Aaliyah and Slick Rick isn't necessarily a logical choice, but it definitely works. The Marvin Gaye cover is a perfect illustration of how what is perceived as "old," or "classic," can be reworked if there is always a reverence for the original material.
Mint Condition feat. Phife, “Let Me Be The One (Ummah Remix)”
The Ummah — a production outfit comprised of Q-Tip, Ali Shaheed Muhammad, and J. Dilla — put a decidedly smoothed out and jazzy version of "Let Me Be The One" by Mint Condition. Given the strong A Tribe Called Quest connections, it should come as no surprise that they recruited Phife to give it that extra Hip-Hop co-sign. There's also a version of "Let Me Be The One" with a Q-Tip verse that seems to no longer exist.
Mariah Carey feat. The Lox & Mase, “Honey (The Bad Boy Remix)”
Even before Diddy recruited The Lox and Mase for the "Honey" remix, there was already a certain Hip-Hop pedigree on the track because the smash was actually produced by Q-Tip.
Horace Brown feat. Jay-Z, “Things We Do For Love (Paradise Remix)”
DJ Eddie F was one of the pioneers of blending New Jack Swing and Hip-Hop based on his work with Heavy D & The Boyz. Feauring a Reasonable Doubt-era JAY-Z, the Clark Kent remix of the same song is also a must-listen as well. And for those who really want to go down the rabbit hole, Horace Brown enlisted Foxy Brown and Clark Kent for a remix of "One For The Money."
Mary J Blige feat. Keith Murray, “Be Happy (Remix)”
Mary J Blige was certainly no stranger to working with Hip-Hop artists. Boasting a track record of hits with Method Man, Greg Nice, CL Smooth, and Biggie, the Keith Murray-aided remix of "Be Happy" was another winning formula.
Brandy feat. MC Lyte, Yo-Yo & Queen Latifah, “I Wanna Be Down (The Human Rhythm Hip-Hop Remix)”
It isn't often when the main artist gets pushed to the side. Well, when you've recruited a Hip-Hop hydra to jump on the track, Brandy rightfully minimized her "I Wanna Be Down" role to simply singing the hook.
S.W.V. feat. The Wu-Tang Clan, “Anything (Old Skool Version)”
"Anything" was remixed for the Above the Rim soundtrack. The result was a song with a decidedly new jack swing feel that got strong contributions from U-God, Ol' Dirty Bastard, and Method Man.
Jodeci feat. Raekwon & Ghostface Killah, “Freek 'N You (Mr. Dalvin's Freek Mix)”
This remix got a lot of love during Raekwon and Ghost's Verzuz. In the 19th round, Raekwon started with Jodeci’s “Freek’n You (Mr. Dalvin’s Freek Mix),” which Ghostface finished on his turn.
Total featuring Puff Daddy “Kissin’ You/Oh Honey” (Remix)
Diddy was unquestionably the king of Hip-Hop remixes. With this remix, he added a dose of bounce to a song that already had plenty of '90s kids getting their first kisses.
Mariah Carey feat. Xscape and Da Brat "Always Be My Baby” (Mr. Dupri Mix)
Anyone who says that Mariah Carey's "Always Be My Baby" wasn't their jam is an outright liar. While many remixes chose to stick relatively close to the original source material, Jermaine Dupri's reworking feels like a completely different track.
112 feat. The Notorious B.I.G. and Ma$e “Only You” (Remix)
"Only You" by 112 was their official introduction to the masses. Bad Boy gave the group an assist by having Biggie on the original, and only enhanced the song's appeal with a remixed version also featuring him and Mase.
Super Cat feat. 3rd Eye, Puff Daddy and The Notorious B.I.G. “Dolly My Baby” (Bad Boy Extended Mix)
For many outside of New York City, "Dolly my Baby" was their first chance to hear The Notorious B.I.G. There was no doubt that he was going to be an absolute superstar. One could also make the argument that on 3rd Eye's verse, he's the first person to use the word "Bling" on wax.
Dru Hill featuring Jermaine Dupri and Da Brat “In My Bed” (So So Def Remix)
Dru Hill was a group that perfectly toed the line between the sultriness of R&B, and the harder edge of Hip-Hop. The song itself hit number 1 on the Billboard charts before getting reworked by Jermaine Dupri who also produced the original.
Mariah Carey feat. ODB “Fantasy” (Bad Boy Remix)
Proposing a collaboration between Mariah Carey and ODB could have possibly landed someone in an insane asylum. And yet, the "Fantasy" remix just worked. Carey herself not only requested ODB specifically — calling herself a fan of 36 Chambers — but she also directed the music video as well.
Method Man feat. Mary J. Blige “I’ll Be There For You/You’re All I Need to Get By” (Razor Sharp Remix)
This is arguably one of the most important records in all of Hip-Hop history. While other remixes could sometimes feel like a cash grab, Method Man and Mary J. Blige truly felt like they were performing a duet, as opposed to separate entities.
Beyonce feat. Ghostface “Summertime (Remix)”
While the aforementioned remixes featuring ODB and Method Man suggested that the industry wasn't checking for everyone in the Wu, Beyoncé made sure that people were putting respect on Ghostface's name.
Groove Theory feat. Brand Nubian “Tell Me (Remix)”
Listening to Lord Jamar and Sadat X go back-and-forth on Groove Theory's criminally underrated "Tell Me" is the perfect example of how just a few bars can completely shift the energy of a song.
Soul for Real feat. Heavy D “Candy Rain (Remix)”
"It's Heavy D and Soul For Real," the Overweight Lover proudly proclaimed on this excellent remix. What fans might not be aware of, is that Ali Shaheed Muhammad of A Tribe Called Quest fame was one of the co-writers of the song.
Lloyd feat. Nas and Andre 3000 “I Want You Remix”
While Lloyd went on to have a successful career, we'd loved to have been a fly on the wall when convincing two of the greatest MC's ever to hop on the remix for "I Want You."
Jennifer Lopez feat. Ja Rule “I’m Real (Murder Remix)”
Jennifer Lopez's "I'm Real" and the subsequent remix were essentially two different songs that shared the same song title. There was a push for Lopez to deliver something for Hip-Hop/R&B radio stations, so Ja Rule wrote the song based around a prominent Rick James sample.
Jagged Edge feat Run-DMC “Let’s Get Married (Remarqable Remix)”
The pairing of Jagged Edge and Run-DMC might seem completely unlikely, and yet, somehow, it just works.
Joe feat. Mystikal “Stutter (Remix)”
This song is definitely unique because it samples a contemporary song. I'd point to this song as a pre-cursor to what DJ Khaled did when he took "Maria, Maria" and turned it into "Wild Thoughts."
D’Angelo feat AZ “Lady (DJ Premier Remix)”
Preemo's signature chops and drums — coupled with AZ's standout verse — all contribute to a song that feels even better with D'Angelo's smoothed out vocals.
Total feat. Lil' Kim, Foxy Brown, & Da Brat "No One Else" (Remix)
Although we like to highlight the beef between Lil' Kim and Foxy Brown, this song is a reminder of just how dope these woman sounded when they formed like Voltron.
Boyz II Men feat. Treach, Craig Mack, Busta Rhymes & Method Man - Vibin' (Remix)
For the "Vibin'" remix, Boyz II Men are essentially rendered to hook duty so that Treach, Craig Mack, Busta Rhymes, and Method Man can have one of he most unique posse cuts ever made.
Keith Sweat feat. Noreaga "Come and Get With Me (DJ Clark Kent remix)
For this remix, Keith Sweat replaced one legend, Snoop Dogg, with another, Noreaga.
Mary J. Blige feat. Notorious BIG "Real Love (Remix)"
Mary J. Blige's entire project, What's the 411? was remixed with contributions from the likes of CL Smooth, Heavy D, and Nice & Smooth. However, if we could only pick one track, it's of course, with the late great Biggie Smalls.