You’ve gotta have a grip of confidence if you think you can take on one of the great, enduring anthems of the 90s and actually elevate the proceedings, let along do it justice. I mean, come on! Outside of its chart and critical success, the legacy of No Diggity is largely a product of its crossover appeal. Doesn’t really matter what you’re into. Musically speaking, the track has something for you. Hard-nosed thuggery? Hey Dre. Deft lyricism? Queen Pen’s pretty nimble on the mic. Charm out the ying yang?
I like the way you work it
Trumped tight, all day, every day
You’re blowing my mind, maybe in time
Baby, I can get you in my ride.”
You tell me.
Which makes me a bit incredulous about how this mashup came to be. The way Extraordinary Magnitude, or Exmag depending on which URL corner you’re poking around, tells it, it was a happy accident. See, Exmag is a freshfaced young group who were hard at work on their upcoming album Proportions when they realized one of their instrumental tracks just so happened to mesh well with acapella track for the 90s R&B standard by Blackstreet. Convenient! Did I mention that Extraordinary Magnitude is the new side project from producer Gramatik and a few of his musically adept buddies?
No surprise then that this piece of audio populism works as well as it does. It sounds less like a “mashup” in the traditional sense and more like a jam session, where the original vocals are used as a frame upon which Exmag drape they funk fineries. The musicianship on display here is a bit staggering; every time I run though the track I catch another lick or bass line that I latch onto and nod along with, little marvels they are. And whenever the track reaches a bridge (or is it a second chorus?), the whole thing opens up in a full on funk explosion. Especially under Pen’s verse, that interplay between the clav and the guitar is butter smooth. A quick run up the keys here, a little nimble noodling there, light touches that make for quick counters and ripostes. That’s right. Real instruments, interacting with each other as though they were being played together live in the same room. Can you imagine?