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Elvis Presley to receive the hip-hop remix treatment on a new album

October 20, 2010 | 11:19 am

The connection between hip-hop and Elvis Presley has been relatively tenuous since Chuck D discouraged matters on "Fight the Power." Branding the Mississippi-born legend a racist, the Public Enemy frontman  famously opined that Elvis never "meant [a thing] to me."

But for those inclined to draw parallels, Presley was the King before T.I. He was a pioneer in the field of musicians-turned-mediocre actors, and he had swag when it was still called "flair." Plus, anyone who has ever been to Graceland knows that he was a visionary home decorator. If only there had been a "Cribs" during the Nixon years. 

So, it's little surprise that the original King is finally getting a hip-hop remix treatment -- though the remixer in question is sure to raise a few eyebrows, considering he's been known for his work as the musical director in Cirque du Soleil's "Viva Elvis" production. Hence the Legacy Records-released "Viva Elvis: The Album," which provides producer and arranger Erich van Tourneau's answer to what Elvis would sound like were he making music today.

Elements of ragga, punk and hip-hop inflect the compositions, a syncretism that is sure to raise the ire of both Elvis fans and hip-hop listeners alike. In the face of potential critics, Tom Cording, vice president for media relations at Legacy Recordings, defended the record.

"I can understand why the purist may be cautious and hesitant, but the new album is a unique way to bring Elvis' music to a whole new, younger audience," Cording told the Denver Post.

For those keeping score at home, Elvis has been flipped by hip-hop artists several times prior, most famously by Spoonie Gee, whose "I'm All Shook Up" remains a classic golden age cut. Other Elvis-referencing rap songs include Three Six Mafia's "In the Ghetto" and Public Enemy's "Go Cat Go."

And if sampling costs weren't so prohibitively expensive, there would inevitably be a lot more. After all, "Blue Suede Shoes" is just the 1950s version of boasting about one's "fly colored Wallabees."

-- Jeff Weiss

Photo: President Nixon meets with Elvis Presley on Dec. 21, 1970, at the White House. Credit: National Archive / Newsmakers