KELELA

Released on the one-year anniversary of her debut album, “Take Me Apart,” Kelela’s “TAKE ME A_PART, THE REMIXES” brings together a massive cast of producers, musicians and other artists to expand her creative universe and offer a collaborative and novel vision of music.
The album boasts a near hour-and-20-minute runtime that attests to Kelela’s guiding philosophy of exploring the full potential within each song. Her debut “Take Me Apart” becomes the canvas upon which each collaborator adds their own perspective.
The only common thread of the remixes is the use of the original album as a source of inspiration; even then, Kelela re-records a handful of her own lyrics.
To label the album derivative simply because each track samples the audio of a previous Kelela song completely misses the point of the project and discounts the art form of the remix itself. Rather, the remix album serves as both a celebration of Kelela’s “Take Me Apart” and the beginning of a new creative journey, which brings together and extols the musical community that helped her achieve success in the first place.
Everything about “TAKE ME A_PART, THE REMIXES,” including the stylized and disjointed title, indicates how willing Kelela is to open her critically acclaimed debut to reinterpretation. The underscore splitting the word “apart” marks the space Kelela creates for each artist to put themselves into her work.
Each track title lists the beats per minute, original track and remixer, allowing each song to exist on its own terms and giving listeners an idea of what to expect. With this radical artistic liberty in mind, the album goes further than just offering an hourlong nightclub playlist but still provides listeners with an electronica-filled remix perfect for getting lost in a crowd.
LSDXOXO’s sleek reimagining of “Truth or Dare” takes the coy invitation posed by Kelela in the original and turns it into a fast-paced dance track that raises the stakes and intensity of her proposition.
Likewise, DJ Lag’s version of “Onanon” quite literally encourages dancing and stands out as one of the most club-ready tracks with a looped voice commanding listeners to “twerk!” throughout the entire song.
Songs get reworked multiple times on the album, allowing each track to explore several options and providing many interpretations of the same song.
If DJ Lag’s rendition of “Onanon” focuses on the unceasing energy implied by the track’s title, the Skyshaker remix highlights the uncertainty and insecurity found in the original lyrics. As the chorus begins, Kelela’s voice begins to warp and distort, losing its human quality and presenting a physical reflection of her own unease in a failing relationship.
Each version of “Waitin,” similarly, takes one of the debut album’s standouts and puts forth a track reflective of both Kelela and the remixer’s creative visions. By changing something as simple as the speed of the track, the Tre Oh Fie remix transforms Kelela’s sultry voice and smooth production into a bouncy and processed song that could have come from electronic-pop maven SOPHIE’s body of work.
DJ and producer Kaytranada’s remix strips away the industrial production in favor of a three-note loop, accompanied by a steady shaking of maracas that transforms its source material into a track with new packaging and therefore a new meaning.
This reimagining is not restricted only to the album’s production: New verses and lyrical additions from the numerous feature artists further flesh out Kelela’s idea of a community of creatives.
The remix “LMK_WHAT’S REALLY GOOD” — featuring Princess Nokia, Junglepussy, CupcakKe and Ms. Boogie — exudes effortless confidence, displays the full potential of opening art to collaboration and brings together some of the best contemporary female rappers in the industry.
Serpentwithfeet’s “Altadena” and Divoli S’Vere’s “Truth or Dare” remixes feature verses that do not try to emulate the original lyrics but rather use Kelela’s music as a springboard to explore their own ideas and art.
By inviting so many artists to work on the project, Kelela rejects the limits placed upon her by both an unreceptive music industry and an album cycle that stresses the need for a marketable collection of songs to stay signed with a label.
The album closer, a version of “Enough” featuring harpist and vocalist Ahya Simone, demonstrates this rejection of industry standards perfectly.
With no standard BPM listed and a six-minute length, the track takes its time, boldly ending the project with a vulnerable new recording of the original lyrics accompanied by a harp and vocal reverb.
Here, Simone’s enchanting artistry takes center stage and reveals the reason the project matters — to make music that can transcend the limits of any one artist, thriving instead off new interpretations created through dialogue.

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