As dizzying as it felt, this was a natural, everyday occurrence in South Florida, where DJs began making fast remixes decades ago by speeding up national rap hits, hoping to eclipse the fastball tempos of Miami bass music. Eventually, a nightclub trend coalesced into a local tradition, and now fast remixes seem to exist entirely on their own terms. Regionally, “a sound like that will never go away,” Miami radio host DJ Nasty told the Fader in 2017. “It’ll never die.”
Unfortunately, the rest of us will, and that should make the abundance of fast remixes currently streaming online resonate with anyone who wishes they could fast-forward through the second summer of this time-thieving pandemic. On top of that, South Florida itself remains one of our nation’s most frightening harbingers of environmental catastrophe — an imperiled piece of planet where the waters are rising, the buildings are collapsing and the clock is ticking. This music obviously isn’t about climate change, but its urgency definitely feels of it.
Then again, clock-torquing has always been central to rap music, with DJs and producers perpetually tweaking the speeds of their samples, treating time like gobs of Silly Putty. Houston’s DJ Screw changed the trajectory of rap by famously slowing records down, loosening the tempo until it melted into a beautiful ooze — so it makes sense that a fast remix does something like the opposite. Instead of liquefying, the details crystallize. The beats become light and delicate. The rhymes get tight and Smurfy. Give a fast remix your most undivided attention and it’ll start to sound like a double-refusal of temporality and corporeality — a sort of metaphysical protest music.
Fetti Fee seems to understand Florida rappers best. His latest mixes of WizDaWizard’s “Don Dada’s” and Wam SpinThaBin’s “Risk Taker” both feel opulent and jewel-like as they accelerate with weird stealth. Somehow, it becomes easier to notice each song’s intricacies as they zip over your ears. Life is racing past, but you’re getting more of it.
And it can work the other way, too, like with DJ Frisco954’s recent remix of “Summer Time” by YN Jay, a Michigan rapper who already does plenty of clock-bending on the original version of the track by rapping slightly ahead of the beat. So when DJ Frisco954 speeds everything up, time feels as slick and precarious as baby oil on a Slip ’N Slide — a reminder that, despite being stuck together forever, music will keep teaching time new ways to fly when we’re having fun.
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