Janelle Monae – “Queen (Apple Juice Kid + The 13th Tribe Remix)”

Image via Apple Juice Kid
Image via Apple Juice Kid

One of the biggest shitty sticks used to beat moombahton until it gave in and admitted that it wasn’t even fit to lick electroclash’s boots was its early doors reliance on edits and unofficial remixes; that it masked a fundamental lack of creativity and vision that would be its undoing. It’s hard to deny that point – but it does spectacularly miss the point. Those early days of moombahton were so invigorating because the sound had – and still has – an alchemical quality that could lift pretty much any genre of music it touched, with the languid BPM shift allowing tracks to kick off their shoes and take flight. Seemingly odd remixes worked because a 110BPM dembow can wrap around diverse genres without compromising either. Even though he was kinda taking the piss, Neki Stranac’s edits did that, and so did Skinny Friedman’s, A-Mac’s and Doc Adams’, to name a few. For me, one of the reasons the sound – not the scene, mind – drifted is because it lost sight of that transformative quality. Once the edits stopped it no longer retained the standard structural elements nabbed from other places, and is still finding its true identity.

Which is why I fucking love Apple Juice Kid & The 13th Tribe’s remix of “Queen.” I’m fine with the original, but this proves EXACTLY why moombahton needs to start rediscovering its own potential, not just focusing on keeping in with the Mad Decent gang of sounds, feeling the need to be in a bass-heavy remake of The Warriors. Foregoing those EDM tropes, the pair instead build a track around Monae’s vocals, eeking everything out of the melody and creating a track you could take home and won’t shit the bed. While the original Monae track was held back by a lumpen groove that jarred with her skittery vocals, this remix sees her gliding all over the shop like *some Winter Olympics speed skating analogy to go here for all the jammy bastards sat at home in their undercrackers watching it while I’m stuck work like some kind of mug*. I used the word sweetspot the other day but I’m going to use it again here because it’s true: this does everything a remix should, it recontextualises the track, making you reconsider it – but it’s also a huge reminder of why so many people around the world originally recognised the malleable, universal appeal of moombahton. Let’s not lose sight of that again, yeah?