Megan Thee Stallion’s “Savage” has been dominating for weeks now. The surprise hit single from her SUGA EP became massive on TikTok with the song’s hook soundtracking an instantly viral dance number. For weeks, a Beyoncé remix of the track has been rumored, and today, after a short snippet of one of Beyoncé’s verses leaked, the full “Savage” remix was uploaded to all on-demand streaming platforms.
The key to understanding the greatness of this remix is remembering and acknowledging the rich history of remixes. Remixes used to mean a complete re-mixing of the song, not just slapping a rapper on in place of the bridge or tapping another vocalist to sing the same lyrics over the same production. For example, Mariah Carey‘s 1995 remix of “Fantasy” featuring Ol’ Dirty Bastard single-handedly changed the trajectory of remixes and rapper-singer collaborations in mainstream music. In fact, Mariah has a storied discography of authentic remixes that have influenced countless artists including Beyoncé herself (think of her moody 2014 remix of “Crazy In Love” for Fifty Shades of Grey). On the “Savage” remix, Beyoncé delivers a whopping four(!) verses and Megan adds a new verse as well.
The remarkable thing about this new remix is how full it sounds. As fun as the original “Savage” is, the production felt a bit empty and redundant. Queen Bey adds exquisite vocal layering and sung and spoken ad-libs to fully round out the song. In Bey’s verses we get standard shoutouts to her mother (“And my momma was a savage, think I got this shit from Tina”) and her hometown (“I’m comin’ straight up out that third, I whip the whip like I stirred it”). The lyrics are smart and layered but it’s her eyebrow-raising references to TikTok, Demon Time, and Only Fans that really amp up the “savage” nature of the track. One of Beyoncé’s greatest musical innovations is her use and development of rap-singing. On the “Savage” remix, Bey delivers full-bodied vocal moments, unadulterated rapping, and that delicious mixture of rapping and singing that has characterized her artistry since Destiny’s Child’s debut single. On the other hand, Megan’s original hook and verses are still as catchy as ever, and they gain a new shine when placed in context. Like Beyoncé, Megan is also from Houston, Texas. It’s beautiful to see two powerful women from H-Town talk their shit and have fun on a track together. It’s also great to be reminded of how much Beyoncé loves female rap; Megan joins Amil, Eve, Free, MC Lyte, Da Brat, Lil Kim, Missy Elliott, and Nicki Minaj on the long list of Beyoncé collaborators in the female rap genre.
Whatever happens with Billboard in terms of chart credit ultimately won’t matter. All artists’ proceeds from the remix will be benefiting Bread of Life Houston’s COVID-19 Relief efforts. This remix is a winner and it was a much needed moment of brightness in this disaster of a year.