DJs remix for Re:Generation

Image courtesy of the Re:Generation Music Project

Dane Mariani
Staff Writer

Re:Generation is exactly what the music scene of the 21st century needs. For the past few decades now, there has been a serious disconnect between new genres of music and their predecessors. Most listeners have a preferred genre of music that they rarely stray from, and they often reject anything that threatens the “integrity” of the music culture they belong to.

But why? This only succeeds in alienating people from good music that they might enjoy. Project Re:Generation is attempting to bring fans of several musical styles together, examining the past and seeing how it relates to music’s future.

The project centers on the efforts of five of the most influential producers of electronic music today. The Crystal Method, DJ Premier, Mark Ronson, Pretty Lights, and Skrillex are all undeniably part of a generation-defining group of musicians. Many are prepared to disregard their contributions to music, some not even allowing them the title of “musicians.” They fail to see how interconnected every attempt at musical expression is, and how compatible they all really are. Hopefully this album will demonstrate just that.

Each artist was given a genre of music that is not typically associated with electronica. Their task was to incorporate these different styles into a track that would show how important music’s diversity is for the future.

The Crystal Method is an electronic duo that has been around since the early 90s. They collaborated with motown legends Martha Reeves and The Funk Brothers to produce a track that maintains all the same soul of their hits from the 1970s. “I’m Not Leaving” starts off the album with a clear indication of the level of cohesion possible when these artists work together.

After that, Re:Generation puts its goal to the test as it asks DJ Premier to mix the sounds of the Berklee Symphony Orchestra and the lyrics of rapper Nas. Classical music is arguably the musical genre most distant from our generation, and the popularity of hip-hop makes Nas a necessary bridge. However, the inclusion of the rapper not only makes classical more accessible but also adds a majesty to hip-hop that isn’t often apparent. The orchestration is not just an accompaniment; it’s arguably the other way around. Nas is another soloist, of equally as important as the harpsichord that comes in after he’s said his piece.

Mark Ronson’s contribution to the album is the closest to the genre he was tasked to collaborate with. He worked with contemporary jazz and R&B artists as well as classic instrumentalist Zigaboo Modeliste, known for his innovative drum lines. The musicians (Erykah Badu, Mos Def, Zigaboo Modeliste, Trombone Shorty, and Members of The Dap Kings) all shine beautifully on an upbeat track that has an electronic sensibility. This track stays true to jazz’s history and progression.

As much of a history is “Wayfaring Stranger,” produced by Pretty Lights and featuring country/bluegrass giants Ralph Stanley and LeAnn Rimes. The lyrics to this song, delivered by

Stanley’s heartbreaking warble, are from a slave ballad likely composed in early 19th century America. It really is a blending of America’s musical past with its potential future, showing that the themes that inspired the song originally are still relevant. Moaning bluegrass progressions mesh with synthetic contributions from Pretty Lights, mingling into possibly the most powerful song on the album.

The most anticipated track on the album, “Breakn’ A Sweat,” comes from dubstep superstar Skrillex and once-upon-a-time superstars The Doors. While lacking their front man Jim Morrison, the remaining members of the 1960s rock group provide solid instrumentation for Skrillex to mold into a completely kick-ass reiteration of what musical collaboration is capable of. The gap between genres is more easily bridged on this track because of the continued relevancy and influence of rock acts like The Doors, as well as Skrillex’s own experience as a guitarist and former band front man.

Hearing the vocal samples of The Doors loving every minute of the recording, or the emotional power of Ralph Stanley’s singing, or Nas talking about just how possible and necessary this kind of album is will convince you of the state of music today. There is so much potential for greatness to come, and I defy anyone who says good music is a thing of a past generation or one particular genre. Project Re:Generation proves that musical evolution is beautiful and essential.

Visit regenerationmusicproject.com to download the tracks discussed here, as well as alternate takes and remixes.

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