What’s Old Is New, DJ Relentless Serves Up September’s Mix

From Madonna and Janet to Nikki, Ciara, Lenny and Aretha, DJ Relentless gives you the beats for September
Aretha Franklin

It’s September and there’s a strange vibe in the air. The season is about to change…not only weather wise but also politically. We are heading in to mid-term elections for the United States. And even if you don’t live there, this is an important time in the world’s history. Many things are riding on this election and I just hope that the voters show up and let their voices be heard. Musically, I’m all over the place. So, let’s get started.

Honestly…you can say the theme for music in North America is “what’s old is new.”

To start out our mix I chose a mashup of Cher’s cover of “Gimme, Gimme, Gimme” and Madonna’s “Hung Up.” I chose these for two reasons. First, Cher has recorded an ABBA tribute album to go with her role in the latest “Mama Mia” movie. At 72, she definitely redefining what it means to be a woman in the music industry. I received remixes for not only “Gimme, Gimme, Gimme” but also for “S.O.S.” and “Fernando.” Not sure how high this project will chart, but she will definitely solidify her standing with the LGBT Community. ABBA announced they will be touring and now Cher has covered their hits. Sounds like the perfect storm for Gay Anthems.

The second half of this mashup is by another gay icon…Madonna. Now, she got a lot of flack over her “tribute speech” for Aretha Franklin at MTV’s Video Music Awards. I didn’t watch the broadcast and really didn’t want to hear what she had to say. When I think of Aretha Franklin, Madonna’s name does not come to mind. But I finally watched it on YouTube and here was my take on it. I believe that because Aretha’s death was on Madonna’s birthday it took the focus from attention on her. So, she used this opportunity to bring the focus back to herself. Not a good move. She should have just said “rest in peace, Queen of Soul” and left it at that. For God’s sake….you just turned 60. Grow up!

For years I have been a huge Madonna supporter. I don’t always agree with her choices but she has made some great contributions to the music industry and the world. So, respect is definitely deserved. But we are talking about Aretha Franklin….her contributions are so much more monumental than this Pop singer. So, please Louise…don’t get it twisted that you are somehow on the same level. I know you have a new album you are working on and you want to create a buzz but this is not a good start.

And I know that Madonna is going to continue her pursuit of Pop Queen-dom with this next project. And I’m gonna get flack for this, but I just wish she would do a standards album. Let the remixers chop the songs up and make them into club hits but please stop trying to appeal to 20 year olds. It’s not gonna happen. Not unless you are going to suddenly learn how to rap or go back to your vocal coach from your “Evita” days. Madge, darling…you’re about to move into the territory where Ethel Merman did her Disco album. You’re a Leo like myself. Let’s be classy and smart about our next move.

And I know everyone is excited that Janet Jackson is back…but I’m not. Our next selection is the Eric Kupper remix of her new single “Made For Now” featuring Daddy Yankee. Here is another artist who has been in the game for a while and hasn’t really changed her formula. I’m trying to get excited about her return but I just know what’s coming. A tour, a whole lotta line dancing and her saying “you sing.” And if you have ever been to one of her shows, you know exactly what I’m talkin’ about.

Yes, the Moombahton flavor of the original track is today’s sound, but perhaps a switch to Trap or working with some new producers or remixers. I want you to come back, Janet. I just want you to be innovative. I want you to be thought provoking. Make a statement and do a U-turn from what is expected. Eric Kupper did an amazing job smoothing the track out with a Disco-House fused remix. And he used very little of Daddy Yankee’s vocal (which works for me….just not clear on people of color who are Republicans – especially in today’s climate).

So, 2018 has definitely watched the rise of DJ Khaled. From the commercial endorsements and the popular TV show, “The Four” he has made his way into the Pop scene by producing hits with Jennifer Lopez and Justin Bieber. His latest single “No Brainer” with Justin, Chance The Rapper & Quavo has all the elements to be a Pop hit. But somehow it just didn’t do it for me. I used the DJ Allan House Mix for this set. I think my dislike for Khaled’s catch phrases on his songs and how douchey Justin looks these days has made me bias. Sorry guys….I’m sure you’ll do fine without my endorsement.

Up next is the Cheyenne Giles Remix of “FEFE” by 6ix9ine featuring Nicki Minaj & Murda Beatz. Now, I’m gonna be honest. I had no idea who 6ix9ine was. When I heard the track I was only focused on Nicki. I have been rooting for her comeback. Many don’t understand my dislike of Cardi B. but she represents all the stereotypes that women of color must deal with on a daily basis. Cardi B. is the new “Uncle Tom.” She plays “ghetto” as an image and is exactly what conservatives use as evidence of why people of color should be controlled and left in underdeveloped areas. There’s an old politically incorrect southern sayin’ that goes “Give a n#%ga a rope…he wanna be a cowboy.” Cardi is going to exploit this image until she can’t anymore.

Nicki Minaj is a complicated figure. Yes, her image is provocative. But she’s studied rappers of the past and learned from their mistakes. That’s why I have been on her side. She took Hip Hop into the next level of Pop music. That’s not an easy feat in this day and age of the internet. Cuz, if everyone is tryin’ to grab the spotlight at once, what’s going to be your gimmick. Nicki has played the game and she’s played it well. And unlike Lil’ Kim, Remy Ma or Azealia Banks, Nicki is like-able. She tests well among kids as well as adults. Ellen loves her. So, I was really disappointed that she canceled her tour. She said that she didn’t have enough time to rehearse and put a great show together, but reports have said that she had to cancel because sales were not good enough. I tend to believe the reports because audiences are fickle. They are like a dog in the park….squirrel! Nicki was great on Stephen Colbert last month. I just hope that she is able to grab the light again soon.

But I digress….this remix of “FEFE” pretty hot!

“Jackie Chan” by Tiesto N Dzeko featuring Preme & Post Malone has been burning up my dance floor. PeteDown did a great job with his mix. And this is a really good time on the charts for Post Malone. I say enjoy it while it’s here. I’m glad that his recent plane scare was was just that…a scare. We’re losing too many celebrities these days.

My next track is a personal pick. I am really feelin’ Famous Dex’s new single “Japan.” The Cheyenne Giles & Knock2 Remix really got me goin’! Be on the lookout for Mr. Giles. He does some exquisite work.

Another artists who is on her journey for a comeback is Ciara. Outside of the Southeast of the United States, I’m just not seeing a huge comeback for her. And I know that I must sound really negative, but I’m just trying to be realistic. I’m not sure what “the next thing” is gonna be but this obsession with nostalgia is not working. I’d say that is how the U.S. got in trouble with the White House. It’s time for new blood. We need something new and to move forward. Ciara ‘s “Level Up” is a nice single. The Club Breakerz B-more Edit works well in my mix. But the original is a little too fast for my taste and doesn’t seem DJ friendly unless you play Soca all night.

But someone who is holdin’ it down is Miss Jennifer Lynn Lopez. J-Lo has been turning it. Two hit TV shows, fashion and bi-lingual chart topping hits. I’m loving her work these days. She’s grown into her own in the industry. There’s no one in her lane. And her latest Spanish single is “El Anillo.” I don’t speak Spanish at all but I’m lovin’ it!

Up next is my re-edit transitional mix of “Move To Miami” by Enrique Iglesias featuring Pitbull. I took the Dirty Disco Mixzshow edit and transitioned it down to the original version. I actually chose this track because Florida’s primary just picked Andrew Gillum (it’s first African American) for its governor’s race. I wish that this wave of people of color running for seats and offices had been more prominent while Obama was in office. It sorta felt like we assumed that we had made it since he got in. The truth of the matter is that we just had our big toe in the door. That was just the beginning of “change.” Our present situation is forcing us to run now.

Anyone who knows me knows that I love when older hits get remixed. The B-LINQ Remix of “All Star” by Smash Mouth re-invents this Pop song for today’s audience.

Same applies for the Kevin D. & PartySoundSystem Remix of “Baby One More Time” by Britney Spears. It seems weird that she hasn’t released any new material in a while. Guess she’s enjoying all those royalties from the early 2000s.

A lot of people dismiss Meghan Trainor….my husband is one who does all the time. But I think she’s a great Pop songwriter. Her latest single “Let You Be Right” is purely enjoyable.

I chose my next song because we just passed what would have been Michael Jackson’s 60th birthday. It seems weird to think that he and Madonna are only nine years older than me. I just celebrated my 51st on August 17th. So, when I found out that Drake got a hold of some unreleased vocals by the King Of Pop I was curious. “Don’t Matter To Me” is a mellow down-tempo duet. I think Michael would have approved. He liked collaborations with new artists and especially those who were doing well on the charts.

Another comeback is in the works for Lenny Kravitz. His new single “Low” has several remixes by Tom Stephan and Dave Aude, but I chose the RedTop Remix for this set. It’s not gonna be a hit but it’s definitely going into my sets. I love this production and it’s the perfect track for opening a dance floor.

Our next selection is the new Jessie J samples Cheryl Lynn’s classic “Got To Be Real.” The Club Breakerz Hype Edit is my new favorite track of the summer.

And for the finale of this mix I decided to close out with my House remix of Aretha Franklin’s 80s hit, “Who’s Zoomin’ Who?” You can find the Relentlessly Touched Vocal on HearThis.at and YouTube. My husband loved her. I was a fan but not as much as him. What I loved about her was she learned from the best and created her own sound. When she covered a song she made it her own. And she always brought all of her experiences to each song. Gospel and Soul poured out of vocals. There will never be another figure in history like The Queen Of Soul.

For those who watched the tribute, I found everyone to be great….except for Rev. Jasper Williams with his homophobic and misogynic sermon, it was a lovely service. There were wonderful performances by the likes of The Clark Sisters, Fantasia, Yolanda Adams, Chaka Khan, Jennifer Hudson, Jennifer Holliday and Stevie Wonder. I loved what Bill Clinton, Al Sharpton, Tyler Perry and Judge Greg Mathis had to say. And props to Dr. Michael Dyson for calling out those who didn’t show up for The Queen. I was very disappointed that Oprah, The Obamas and many others from the music industry chose not to pay their respects with their presence. But I guess everyone grieves in their own way.

And one last thing….I am taking some time off from my column. I have decided to devote my time to my new label (iUnderground Records), a couple of albums projects and a book that I have been trying to finish. I want to thank KINKSTER MAG for allowing me to do what I love…sharing music. Until we meet again, thank you for reading my blogs over the past couple of years.


Sr. Music Contributing Writer - A disc jockey since 1980, DJ Relentless has a career that has spanned from local dive bars to major club venues all over the United States, Amsterdam, the Dominican Republic and Toronto.