Rating The Remix: “Speaking In Tungs”

    Welcome to the fourth installment of Rating The Remix, in which we examine remixes, freestyles, and reinterpretations of popular hip-hop and R&B tracks and determine who redid it the best. Ratings are out of a possible 10 points.


    Today’s Case: “Speaking In Tungs” by Vado f. Cam’ron



    Vado’s rise to prominence has been incremental, but it’s a story that has been satisfying to watch unfold. The Harlem MC started popping up last year as part of the Cam’ron-endorsed United Nations crew, and then nabbed a spot as the Dipset commander’s de facto second in command. This led to the production of several mixtapes together, including this year’s Boss of All Bosses 2.5, where “Speaking In Tungs” first appeared. Since then, Vado has been cranking out a boatload of original material, so much that his Slime Flu mixtape ended up getting upgraded to a full-length album and received a wide-scale release thanks to mega-indie E1. Meanwhile, “Speaking In Tungs” has achieved slow-burning success, which it deserves when you consider Vado’s hyped-up performance and the appearance of a truly revitalized Cam’ron. It has also caused a wide variety of rappers to attempt verses over Sire’s hypnotic, drum-slamming beat. Oh, and Justin Bieber, too. But we’ll get to that in a moment.




    The Remixer: Cassidy

    The Mixtape: Internet only

    The Breakdown: First up is “Drumma Bass” rapper Cassidy, who lets off a vitrolic stream of self-promotion and disses toward unnamed parties. He takes Vado’s comically blown-out “Huh?” adlib from the chorus and switches it to “Who?,” in reference to himself. While there isn’t anything terribly bad about Cassidy’s take on the track, it seems as if he gets a little out of control during the song’s second half, letting his flow career off the road with little to no regard to the track’s structure. If he had managed to keep his approach refined the entire time, he could have come up with something a bit more compelling. As it is, you kind of want to tell the dude to calm down a bit by the track’s end.

    The Rating: 6.0



    The Remixer: Young Chris

    The Mixtape: Internet only

    The Breakdown: Former Young Gunz/Roc-A-Fella rapper Young Chris goes in pretty hard on Vado’s song, turning the feel-good track into a shit-talk shooting gallery. His grim rhymes are given a sort of manic glee when combined with the “Speaking In Tungs” beat, turning what could have been a pretty pedestrian set of verses into an entertaining session of ego boosting.

    The Rating: 7.5



    The Remixer: Charles Hamilton

    The Mixtape: Internet only

    The Breakdown: A quick Google search for Sonic The Hedgehog-obsessed rapper Charles Hamilton will probably bring up a lot of things that have nothing to do with the young rapper’s music. Stuff about drugs, insanity, getting punched in the face on camera, and so forth. What isn’t mentioned is that for all the times people say a rapper “blacks out” on a track, they probably aren’t considering Hamilton’s work, and this track in particular, where Hamilton seriously sounds like he’s on the verge of passing out, his impassioned vocals causing the mic to clip. This all goes down among a plethora of cultural references, and a flow that makes very good use of Vado’s track. Thrilling stuff.
    The Rating: 8.5



    The Remixer: Jadakiss and Styles P

    The Mixtape: Call Of Duty: Black Ops

    The Breakdown: Most of the artists we’ve looked at in Rating The Remix have been either hot new rappers or big stars trying their hand at other tracks. Jadakiss and Styles P represent something new for this column: reliably great yet underrated veterans taking a shot. The duo tackles the track with the attitude of people who have nothing to prove to anyone, a brand of confidence that goes great with the instrumental. Out of the two, I have to give the edge to Jadakiss, if only because Styles P’s trash-talking current fashion trends as being “halfway gay” comes off as a little crotchety and needlessly mean-spirited.

    The Rating: 7.0



    The Remixer: Lloyd Banks

    The Mixtape: Internet only
    The Breakdown: If you couldn’t tell by Funkmaster Flex yelling about it repeatedly, Lloyd Banks’s take on “Speaking In Tungs” comes from a live session on New York’s Hot 97. This marks another first for this column: the completely off-the-head, non-studio-assisted freestyle. It’s also another great moment for Banks in 2010, along with the success of his “Beamer, Benz, Or Bentley” single and his appearance on Kanye West’s “Christian Dior Denim Flow.” Seeing as how it’s radio, Banks has to engage in some creative self-censorship, but he still manages to transform Vado’s track into an enjoyable bit of high-life celebration.
    The Rating: 9.0



    The Remixer: Gucci Mane

    The Mixtape: Ferrari Music

    The Breakdown: Gucci Mane’s version of “Speaking In Tungs” represents a lot of the things that were frustrating about his Ferrari Music mixtape with DJ Drama. Not only is it unacceptably brief, but it also feels a little unfinished. It’s a shame, considering the minute-long verse he drops indicates that he could do good things with Vado’s track, but ultimately, it only serves to illustrate the barrel-scraping mentality Ferrari Music seemed to embody.

    The Rating: 5.0



    The Remixer: Das Racist

    The Mixtape: Internet only

    The Breakdown: The hip-hop absurdists of Das Racist stick out considerably when put alongside the other rappers covered in this column, and there are still people out there who aren’t sure whether or not they’re a joke or not. Their version of “Speaking In Tungs” is another breathless love letter to a track they actually seem to appreciate, much like their take on Ghostface Killah’s “Nutmeg” that appears on this year’s Shut Up, Dude mixtape. Sure, there are some pretty funny lines to be found in this track, but it’s another credible argument that the duo should be taken seriously when they want to be.

    The Rating: 8.0



    The Remixer: Justin Bieber (a.k.a. Shawty Mane)

    The Mixtape: Internet only

    The Breakdown: One must walk a very fine line when talking about Justin Bieber’s recent excursion into the world of hip-hop, which just so happened to be over Vado’s “Speaking In Tungs” beat. On one hand, if too much consideration is put into what Bieber is rapping about, or the fact that he’s rapping at all, a writer could look like he completely missed the joke. On the other, if a writer looks at it as nothing more than a joke, they could be completely off base. Elsewhere, there’s the whole thing about how he jacked lines from Canadian rapper Tory Lanez’ “Beamer, Benz, Or Bentley” freestyle. Not surprisingly, probably due to all of the publicity thrown his way as a result, Lanez didn’t seem to mind. In addition to being a chart-topping pop superstar, a memoir writer, and a spokesperson for nail polish and perfume, Justin Bieber has managed to produce a piece of music that is nearly impossible to judge from an objective standpoint. It boggles the mind.

    The Rating: N/A



    The Verdict: Cassidy lost control, Young Chris made boasting fun again, Jadakiss and Styles P brought authority, Gucci Mane came incomplete, Das Racist made a case for authenticity, and like Churchill’s thoughts concerning World War II Russia, Justin Bieber is a riddle wrapped in a mystery wrapped in an enigma. But it was Charles Hamilton who noisily devoured the beat, and Lloyd Banks who made the whole thing seem effortless.