Less than a month ago, Jadakiss was telling MTV that he wanted Cam’ron and Kanye West on the remix for “Who’s Real,” the Swizz Beatz-produced, improbably successful fifth single off The Last Kiss. Instead, it turns out we got…a Ruff Ryders reunion? This was a buzzed-about possibility ever since Kiss said, essentially, that he’d looking for DMX ever since X had gotten out of a Florida jail. And then on Monday X’s verse from the song leaked, and by Monday night, Flex was dropping thousands of bombs heralding the return of a New York rap legend. But nobody said anything about Eve or Drag-On, two rappers nobody’s heard much of anything from in years. Add Styles P and Sheek Louch and you’ve got a full-blown reconvention of a long-departed New York movement.
If nothing else, the convocation is a reminder that the frequently maddeningly annoying Swizz Beatz still sounds amazing when a bunch of gruff dudes from Yonkers are shouting over one of his beats. Between the track’s original blaring horns and ad-libs from literally seven different people, the “Who’s Real” remix is practically a sound collage. Until the rapping starts, anyway. The new version features a typically cold-hearted verse from Jada, who seems like he’s getting back in block mode after selling all those records; Eve, whose pilgrimage to Equatorial Guinea didn’t work out, I guess; Drag-On, which–I don’t care how many years it’s been–who cares?; Sheek and Styles, some of the most dependable posse cut rappers in New York history; and DMX, who sounds incredibly sharp for being almost certainly both somewhat deranged and rusty as all hell. This reunion probably means exactly zero in 2009, but it sure does take you back.