This week, Billboard is publishing a series of lists and articles celebrating the music of 20 years ago. Our 2002 Week continues here with a dive into one of the big trends among pop releases of 2002 — the full-length remix album — as we look at the good, the bad and the conspicuously dated from the year’s most prominent compilations of second attempts.
The remix has long been just as much of an art form as crafting a standard composition. Thanks to 20th-century technology like turntables and consoles, producers and DJs alike have been creating remix magic since the early ‘70s. By the end of the century, remixes could range from extended versions that mimic film scores to wacky reproductions that stray far away from the original to basic redos that simply tack on a guest verse.
In the new millennium, artists became even more creative, releasing an overflow of remix albums across genres in 2002. It could be attributed to the accessibility of new technology and digital audio programs like Pro Tools and Logic, the rise of the mp3 and the spread of filesharing, and the launch of iTunes in 2001. There was also a rising trend in successful genre fusion: Mariah Carey continued unleashing rap collaborations (1999’s chart-topping “Heartbreaker” with Jay-Z), Santana scored two No. 1s (1999’s Rob Thomas-assisted “Smooth” and 2000’s “Maria Maria” with Wyclef Jean and the Product G&B), and Britney Spears entered the urban market with 2002’s “Boys (The Co-Ed Remix),” produced by The Neptunes. It all added up to greater interest in the remix, and in the artistic and commercial potential of the sets that compiled them.
Below, we break down the most memorable remix albums of 2002 – the parts that were pure genius, the attempts that were a bit questionable and the juxtapositions that couldn’t have worked in any other year.
Jennifer Lopez, J to tha L–O! The Remixes
In 2001, as everyone was recovering from post-Y2K shock, Jennifer Lopez was busy transitioning from a Fly Girl to a full-fledged superstar. It was the year the platform-spanning artist made history as the first (and still the only) woman to simultaneously score a No. 1 album (J. Lo) and film (The Wedding Planner) in the same week. Lopez continued the celebration in 2002 with J to tha L–O! The Remixes, which included new twists on singles from 1999’s On the 6 debut and J.Lo. Featuring artists like fellow Bronx native Fat Joe to her famous ex-boyfriend Diddy, it set another record: Lopez became the first artist to top the Billboard 200 chart with a remix album.
The Remix You Most Likely Had On Your Walkman: The Murder Remix of “I’m Real” with Ja Rule is a J. Lo staple, transforming the ‘80s-inspired original into an urban smash. Sampling Rick James’ 1978 single “Mary Jane”, the pair’s bubblegum chemistry skyrocketed the remix to the top of the Hot 100 for five non-consecutive weeks. And to this day, there are still people who confuse the opening lyric “R-U-L-E” with “Are you Ellie?”
Most Interesting Twist on a Familiar Song: Hex Hector’s “Waiting For Tonight” remix, where the legendary house producer injects the club favorite with an electrifying dose of euphoria.
Most Unexpected Guest Collaborator: Cris Judd, Lopez’s then-husband, on “Alive” (the remix album’s sole original track). Judd was already a well-known choreographer at the time, but who knew he was also a songwriter? He played the melody on the piano during their honeymoon, and the ballad later became the soundtrack single for 2002’s Enough.
Most Comically 2002 Moment: Ja Rule’s animated “It…must…be the ASS!” declaration that opens Murder Inc’s “Ain’t It Funny” remix. J. Lo’s famous booty still remains the blueprint two decades later.
Destiny’s Child, This Is the Remix
Simply calling this set a remix album is a disservice. The 13-song collection is a complete reimagining of the iconic girl group’s hits from 1998’s self-titled debut, 1999’s The Writing’s on the Wall, and 2001’s four-times platinum-selling Survivor. It’s a one-stop-shop for multiple genres, from Maurice Joshua’s dancefloor-ready “Bills, Bills, Bills” to Rockwilder and Missy Elliott’s rap-R&B “Bootylicious” fusion requiring more of a slow grind than a booty shake.
The Remix You Most Likely Had On Your Walkman: “No, No, No Part 2”. Destiny’s Child released two versions as debut singles from their self-titled album, but it was the sequel that triumphed over the sensual first part. Produced by Wyclef Jean, it was the first hint of Beyoncé’s staccato rap flow.
Most Interesting Twist on a Familiar Song: In true Timbaland fashion, the producer elevated the group’s “Say My Name” from a Grammy-winning chart-topper to a languid, late-night groove. The “adults only” vibe was amplified by vocals from late singer/songwriter Static Major. Destiny’s Child later appeased longtime fans by performing the remix during Beyoncé’s iconic Coachella performance in 2018.
Most Unexpected Guest Collaborator: Da Brat appears twice, chucking on her military boots for the “Survivor” remix and then club-hopping with Jermaine Dupri and Bow Wow for the So So Def’ remix of “Jumpin Jumpin.”
Most Comically 2002 Moment: The original “Bug-a-Boo” was already a ridiculous time capsule, with its references to pagers, MCI, and calling AOL to make your emails stop. Wyclef Jean makes the remix even more over-the-top with his Latin-influenced production.
Diddy and the Bad Boy Family, We Invented the Remix
Diddy is rap’s flashiest maestro – and he shows it off best with a proper remix. First showcasing these transformative skills with Jodeci’s “Come and Talk to Me” remix in 1992, the mogul unofficially crowned himself as the “Remix King” with this blingy compilation. It’s filled with ‘00s hip-hop’s elite, including Bad Boy labelmates like 112 and the late The Notorious B.I.G., along with friends like Mary J. Blige and Ludacris.
The Hit/Remix You Most Likely Had On Your Walkman: There’s an ongoing debate over which version of “I Need a Girl” is best: Usher and Loon’s smooth-talking on Part One is indeed impressive, but the feel-good vibes of Part Two are undefeatable. Diddy, Ginuwine, Loon and Mario Winans get the party started with harmonious verses atop an instantly recognizable guitar lick.
Most Interesting Twist on a Familiar Song: Mary J. Blige’s “No More Drama” single from the year prior was an emotional release, freeing herself from all the pain and tears she endured for years. Diddy’s version is the calm after the storm, with Blige exuding happiness over a sunny and soulful production.
Most Unexpected Guest Collaborator: Ashanti’s “Foolish” debut was made even more iconic with a posthumous feature from The Notorious B.I.G. on the remix. “Unfoolish” lifts a Rated R verse from the late rapper’s 1997 “F–k You Tonight” classic, giving Diddy a co-production credit and Ashanti a welcome into the Bad Boy family.
Most Comically 2002 Moment: Diddy obnoxiously shouting “This is the remix!” not once, not twice, but five times on 112’s “Peaches & Cream” remix with Ludacris. When he says “Can’t stop, won’t stop”, he really means it.
Jessica Simpson, This Is the Remix
After winning America’s hearts with her sweet-as-pie charm over the course of her first two albums, 1999’s double-platinum-certified Sweet Kisses and 2001’s gold-certified Irresistible, Jessica Simpson released her first remix album. A mix of singles from both records, it spins fan favorites like “I Wanna Love You Forever” and “I Think I’m in Love with You” into techno and house anthems.
The Remix You Most Likely Had On Your Walkman: Simpson’s 2000 “I Think I’m in Love with You” is the sonic version of the heart-eyes emoji. The original, which samples John Mellencamp’s 1982 “Jack & Diane” classic, has two sweat-soaked club versions here from producers Lenny B and Peter Rauhofer.
Most Interesting Twist on a Familiar Song: Two Long Island-born DJs, Chris “The Greek” Panaghi and the late Guido Osorio, remixes the cutesy “A Little Bit” single into an eight-minute-long, fist-pumping jam fit for the Jersey Shore. DJ Pauly D should add this one to his arsenal.
Most Unexpected Guest Collaborator: Simpson debuted in 1999 as a more wholesome pop girl, compared to the likes of the sassier Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera. But she turned up the sex appeal by teaming with Jermaine Dupri and Bow Wow for the So So Def remix of “Irresistible”.
Most Comically 2002 Moment: This category also belongs to Bow Wow, who was utterly inescapable in the early ‘00s. His crip walking in the “Irresistible” music video is also top-tier.
Linkin Park, Reanimation
Linkin Park’s Hybrid Theory was already a bonafide nu-metal classic upon its 2000 release. But rather than capitalizing on its massive mainstream popularity, the band went completely underground for Reanimation. It makes for a warped reality, twisting the songs from Hybrid Theory into sludgy, head-spinning remixes. The band’s experimentation paid off: Reanimation peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard 200.
The Remix You Most Likely Had On Your Walkman: “In The End”, one of Linkin Park’s signature singles, enters a construction zone on Reanimation’s “Enth E Nd”. This version dismantles the original’s haunting core and highlights Mike Shinoda’s admiration for underground hip-hop. The vinyl scratches and appearances of KutMasta Kurt and Motion Man make it all the more authentic.
Most Interesting Twist on a Familiar Song: The near-manic energy of “A Place For My Head” becomes more subdued on Reanimation’s “Plc.4 Mie Hæd”. The new version still keeps the original’s sharp edges intact, yet the spatial production makes it sound like the late Chester Bennington is screaming from the dark corners of a spaceship instead of from the middle of a mosh pit.
Most Unexpected Guest Collaborator: “X-Ecutioner Style” is specifically made for diehard underground rap fans and vinyl crate diggers, featuring The Roots’ Black Thought, NYC DJ and producer Sean C and turntable master Roc Raida.
Most Comically 2002 Moment: Way before millennial artists were dropping vowels from their monikers, Linkin Park was ahead of the game by also remixing every song title into cryptic, near-indecipherable codes. There’s also the nu-metal collision — Staind’s Aaron Lewis on “Krwlng” (“Crawling”) and Korn’s Jonathan Davis “1Stp Klosr” (“One Step Closer”) — which we’re lucky didn’t cause a nuclear explosion.