Remixes are usually met with mixed reactions-they’re either really good or a case of epic fail. So when official news broke out of this project, the cynic in us had to laugh. Jamie Smith of The xx remixing Gil Scott-Heron’s I’m Not Here? Is he out of his mind??
The story goes like this: XL Recordings producer Richard Russell got inspired by The xx’s debut album while producing Gil’s 2010 album-the 1st since 1993. So impressed was he that Richard approached Jamie with the idea of remixing I’m Not Here. And so began the inception of We’re New Here.
We’re New Here begins with lyrics that set the tone for the entire album. Gil asks, “I did not become someone different/That I did not want to be/But I’m new here/Will you show me around?” as if asking Jamie to introduce him to unfamiliar territory-a brand new generation of music far different from the ones he used to know before his troubled years of drug abuse and imprisonment. Jamie replies, and the euphoric synths and beats begin.
This is no ordinary remix album where the remixer tries to overpower or butcher the original; what Jamie has done is to make this album a truly collaborative effort. Not only does this great partnership play on the strengths of both singers, it also brings out the best in each. And Jamie has done well in retaining the weight of Gil’s poetic justice through complementing echoed synths and skipped beats, which add even more soul and depth to the 62-year-old’s spoken word.
It’s no easy feat, but Jamie gives Gil Scott-Heron’s weary voice a breath of fresh air. If you’re a fan of Gil’s, you’ll find Jamie’s reinterpretation and reimagining of I’m Not Here refreshing. If you’re new to Gil’s repertoire, then We’re New Here is a great repackaged introduction to this poet and forefather of proto-rap.
Listen to: ‘Running’, ‘NY Is Killing Me’
If you like this you’ll dig: Record Club, The xx, The Last Poets
Listen to We’re New Here at www.xlrecordings.com/gilscottheronandjamiexx.