Photo by Barney Patterson
Back in high school, I was a pretty big Drake fan. I spent many a bus ride home bumping So Far Gone. To me, the mixtape was a better executed 808’s and Heartbreak with an indie sensibility and better beat selection. Some of the softer songs occasionally got on my nerves, but the truth is that it was a damn good and by far my favorite Drake release to this day. “Uptown” banged no matter how trite its Billy Joel sample was. “Houstatlantavegas” was House of Balloons before House of Balloons. Inexplicably though, this was at the height of my hip hop head elitism, my favorite track on the tape though was “Succesful.” I absolutely despised Trey Songz at the time and my 05′-’07 Wayne obsession had long been over, but the track had some unknown appeal to me. Maybe it was the haunting beat? Yeah that was probably it. So Far Gone era Drake was an interesting animal. There were hints of the obnoxiously whisper-in-your-ear open-heart style that he champions today, but most of Drake’s versus centered around youthful braggadocio that would fit in better on a Rick Ross tape than on Take Care. Anyways, I couldn’t explain my love for the tape then and I can’t now.
This roundabout story brings us to the actual point of this post. You probably know that we love the Wedidit Collective. Shlohmo and Jonwayne are basically Astral Plane VIP’s at this point and RL Grime, eLan and Earnest Blount are supremely talented artists. One Wedidit member we’ve somehow ignored to this point is Groundislava. Our ignorance/negligence basically borders on criminality at this point. Well the buck stops here. Groundislava aka Jasper Peterson, you’re our man. We’ll start off with your latest feat, a re-imagining of “Successful” (see how I brought it all together, eh?).
Stripping the original of its dark, steady beat, Peterson adds in a stumbling drum machine, soft synth pads, and a shit ton of reverb. It sounds Trey Songz is singing through a sock in his mouth. I enjoy that image. Drake sounds muffled as well, but his vocals sound more like he’s down and around the corner of a hallway. The remix maintains the original’s pop-sensibility, but only barely. The track excels where the original failed. Instead of focusing on Drake’s sometimes childish verses, Wayne’s infantile verse, or Songz’s obnoxious vocals, the track puts the focus on the arrangement of the vocals and hands the reigns over to Groundislava to do his magic. If you managed to read through this entire overwrought post, then congratulations. Hopefully, you just listened to the track and got the gist of what I was saying in 1/100 of the time. Stream the remix below.