Last spring, we looked at the 20 best remixes of the 90s — the golden age of the remix. And after way too many months, it’s finally time to look at the last decade of R&B and hip-hop remixes.
The 2000s were a decade of quantity over quality — trust me, there are WAY more remixes floating around during that era than you remember, hence this tardy post. It took forever to narrow down my final list of 40 or so songs to the 20 you’ll see below.
While many of those remixes lacked the lasting appeal of those in the previous decade, there are still plenty that made a definite impact.
So, let’s take a long-delayed look at the best remixes from the years 2000-2009.
(And just an FYI, this list does NOT include mixtape tracks where guys like Lil Wayne just rapped over an pre-existing beat. So his versions of songs like “Upgrade U” and “Swag Surfin” weren’t up for debate. Sorry, Weezy stans — the four of you still dumb enough to embrace that label.)
Honorable mentions: Jay Z, “Girls, Girls, Girls Part 2”; Fabolous featuring Tamia, “So Into You (Remix)”; Jennifer Lopez featuring Ja Rule, “I’m Real (Murder Remix)”; MOP featuring Busta Rhymes, Teflon and Remy Ma, “Ante Up (Remix)”; The Game “Hate It or Love It (G Unit Remix)”
20. Rich Boy featuring Andre 3000, Nelly, Murphy Lee, Jim Jones, Lil Jon and The Game, “Throw Some D’s Remix” (2006)
This song is a tale of two verses — Dre comes in, demolishes the beat, everyone else stumbles around for a bit, then Game shows up knocks it out of the park. It shows the importance of having a good opener and a good closer.
19. Mariah Carey featuring Joe and Nas, “Thank God I Found You (Make It Last Remix)” (2000)
Obvious Keith Sweat biases aside, MC and the J-O-E upgraded the original pop song by borrowing Keef’s “Make It Last Forever” to create a silky smooth R&B smash. Adding Nas gave it just the right amount of street cred too.
18. R. Kelly featuring TI and T-Pain, “I’m A Flirt (Remix)” (2007)
Yeah, I know this song is absolutely ridiculous. Listening to Kellz N Friendz act like creepy old men in the club isn’t usually my idea of a good time but this song is undeniably addictive. “She be calling you Kelly, when your name is Tommyyyyyyyyy!”
17. Ashanti featuring The Notorious B.I.G., “Unfoolish (Foolish Remix)” (2002)
Ashanti landed her first big hit, “Foolish” by borrowing from The Notorious BIG’s “One More Chance (Remix)” (which borrowed from DeBarge, but that’s another story). That worked so well that she borrowed from BIG AGAIN — using “F*** You Tonight” for “Unfoolish.” If it ain’t broke, why fix it?
16. The Game featuring The Entire Rap Industry, “It’s Okay (One Blood Remix)” (2006)
The ULTIMATE posse cut. For this remix Game recruited (deep breath): Jim Jones, Snoop Dogg, Nas, T.I., The Game, Fat Joe, Lil Wayne, N.O.R.E., Jadakiss, Styles P, Fabolous, Juelz Santana, Rick Ross, Twista, Tha Dogg Pound, WC, E-40, Bun B, Chamillionaire, Slim Thug, Young Dro, Clipse and Ja Rule. There are a few weak spots — Young Dro comparing his cars to fruit juice, ugh — but for 11 minutes, this is an all-out lyrical assault.
15. Joe featuring Mystikal, “Stutter (The Double Take Remix)”
Joe’s greatest brush with mainstream success came right here with this remix of his 2000 hit. And of course Mystikal was at the height of his notoriety too: ‘WAAAAATCH YOSELF!”
14. Busta Rhymes featuring Puff Daddy and Pharrell, “Pass the Courvoisier, Part II” (2002)
JUMP JUMP!!!! There might not be much here lyrically but that’s fine — we’ve got one of the best tracks ever produced by the Neptunes and Busta’s insane adlibs. The song is pretty much just a liquor ad but I’m not complaining. JUMP JUMP!!!!
13. Memphis Bleek featuring Jay Z, Missy Elliott and Twista, “Is That Your Chick (The Lost Verses)” (2000)
Poor Bleek. This was his best shot at mainstream success and he’s once again overshadowed. Jay and Twista drop unforgettable lines while Misdemeanor lays down her trademark psychotic hook. Oh and Bleek shows up here too, eventually.
12. Busta Rhymes featuring Mary J. Blige, Missy Elliott, Rah Digga, Lloyd Banks, Papoose and DMX, “Touch It (The Remix)” (2006)
The original was already a banger, but this remix, featuring the most random assortment of personalities since Guardians of the Galaxy, took things to another level. True story: At my wedding, during the cake cutting, the DJ played this song and everyone abandoned us and ran back to the dance floor. Bussa Buss hijacked my own wedding day.
11. Ja Rule featuring Vita, Charli Baltimore and Ashanti, “Down 4 U” (2002)
This was one of the few bright spots during Murder Inc’s sugar-coated reign of terror. It’s the perfect summer jam — breezy, memorable and appeals to both the guys and girls.
10. DJ Unk featuring Andre 3000 and Jim Jones, “Walk It Out (Remix)” (2006)
Who would have thought that 3 Stacks would drop one of his most quoted verses on such a random remix? That very verse is why people are still hoping and praying for an Andre solo album today. Yeah, Unk and Jim Jones are also here blah blah blah, it’s not a big deal — this one is all about Andre Benjamin.
9. Nas featuring Jadakiss and Ludacris, “Make You Look (Remix)” (2002)
It’s hard to top a song as explosive as the original “Made You Look” but these three made it look easy. Jada and Nas effortlessly drop their usual scorching bars but the real standout was Luda — until this song he was still seen as a novelty rapper. Here, he showed he’s a true MC.
8. R. Kelly, “Step in the Name of Love (Remix)” (2003)
WHOAAAAAAA OHHHHHH!!!! Yes, it’s your grandma’s favorite song. The remix is pretty much an extended version of the original but Kellz knows the give the people what they want — more time to step.
7. Terror Squad featuring Fat Joe, Ma$e, Lil Jon, Eminem and Remy Ma, “Lean Back (Remix)” (2005)
No one would have minded if this group just spit new verses over the original “Lean Back” beat and called it a remix but nope. To Lil Jon’s credit, he inserted his signature Southern sound into the track, providing a whole new soundscape that, arguably, outshined the original.
6. Kanye West featuring Jay Z, “Diamonds From Sierra Leone (Remix)” (2005)
Kanye said it best himself: “On that ‘Diamonds’ remix I swore I spazzed/Then my big brother came through and kicked my a**.” Ye definitely held his own but he’s right — Jay Z fired off one of his best verses here, cementing his legendary status.
5. R. Kelly featuring Jay Z, Boo & Gotti, “Fiesta (Remix)” (2000)
This was THE party starter of the early ’00s, a collabo that worked so well that the industry couldn’t wait for Jay and Kellz’s upcoming joint album. That … didn’t work out so well. And the sequel was even worse. No matter, this song has remained the gold standard of R. Kelly/Jay Z teamups.
4. Talib Kweli featuring Jay Z, Mos Def, Kanye West and Busta Rhymes, “Get By (Remix)” (2002)
This one has been lost to the ages, so allow me to give it the shine it deserves. Five of the best lyricists of all time (OF ALL TIME — Kanye voice) hold nothing back and create an unheralded classic.
3. Mya featuring Jay Z, “Best of Me (Part 2)” (2000)
Here’s yet another example of the guest vocalist totally stealing the shine of the lead artist. The Mya’s original single was very good, but Jay’s bars changed the game, literally. Not only was his verse an anthem of womanizers everywhere, his alleged exploits with Nas’ ex launched their epic rivalry. Who knew a simple remix could have such an impact?
2. Jagged Edge featuring Run DMC, “Let’s Get Married (Remix)” (2000)
JE’s original song was perfect for wedding ceremonies, but this high-powered remix was made for the wedding reception. For a generation of newlyweds, this has become a wedding staple. There’s only one song on this list that has become even more prolific…
1. R. Kelly, Ignition (Remix) (2003)
Of all the remixes on our list, this one has penetrated pop culture like no other. Ten years later, it’s still being parodied and people of all ages and ethnic backgrounds recognize that “bounce bounce bounce bounce bounce bounce.” At this point, no one remembers the original, but everyone knows this one’s hot and fresh out the kitchen.
What did I miss? Share your favorite remixes below.