The Edge’s Advent Calendar: Vampire Weekend’s wintertime rap remix


It’s the first of December, and The Edge’s Advent Calendar is here! To celebrate the season, writers and editors across the magazine will be brightening your mornings with tiny seasonal snippets, one every day, just like your standard chocolate calendar.

Thought it may be the first of December, however, not everyone may be feeling truly festive yet. For some the Christmas season starts later – no matter. For something winter-y rather than Christmas-y, and in anticipation of the upcoming Edge’s Alternative Christmas Mixtape, here’s a little treat for you.

In 2013, capping off the year when they released their stunning third album Modern Vampires of the City, Vampire Weekend released the festive remix to end all festive remixes. It was a wintertime treatment of track ‘Step‘; it kept the hook – ‘the gloves are off, the wisdom teeth are out, what you on about? I feel it in my bones, I feel it in my bones.’ – but switched out the verses for a love story told by American featured rappers Danny Brown, Heems, and Despot.

Oh, and added some jingle bells.

‘Step’ was already a song inspired by rap, inspired by music to be this huge metatextual analysis of the genre, cram-packed full of references and affectionate nods. It sampled heavily from rap outfit Souls of Mischief, so it was only right that at the closing of the year it returned back there, too. But these artists, together with the backing instrumentals infused with the jingle of sleigh bells and the whipping of a winter wind, orchestrated this sublime seasonal story. The story is one of a working-glass brown guy from Queens, falling in love with a girl whose ‘freckles dance on her porcelain skin’, and who has ‘been high, but there ain’t no higher place than alongside her by the fireplace’.

You get this opening from Danny Brown, whose voice at first seems startlingly abrasive compared to the Ezra Koenig you’re used to, but which brings such raw energy to the lyrics. Then Heems tells you the bulk of the tale, and he has this real warmth to his voice that coaxes the listener in. Finally you have this pop as Despot’s verse opens, before Vampire Weekend lead us out again, and it’s just phenomenal. Perhaps more so than any track on Modern Vampires of the City itself, this version of ‘Step’ is a love story to a city, a city in winter, with a vicious icy wind contrasted against the heat of a passionate love.

The track is available for free download straight from Vampire Weekend’s Twitter – grab it, and slot it right into your Christmas playlist.



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Features Editor 2015/16. PhD student. Sorry I give everything five stars, I just have a lot of love in my heart.

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