Less than a week after Beyoncé released “Renaissance,” her love letter to Black, queer nightclub history, she’s returned with a brisk remix EP for use on dance floors.
“Break My Soul” was the first snippet the world heard of “Renaissance,” and its nods to Robin S. and Big Freedia put in in the lineage of ‘90s house belters and New Orleans bounce and drag culture. Her new EP compiles four very functional takes on the track, in the spirit of the Clinton-era club remixes that accompanied Janet Jackson and Madonna hits.
So which ones should DJs play in their sets this weekend? Here is our definitive ranking of each, from worst to best.
4. will.i.am remix
The name on this Bey remix probably gave house-music purists a bit of an aneurysm. While Beyoncé brilliantly walks listeners through club culture of the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s, the 2009 of Black Eyed Peas and “I Gotta Feeling” probably didn’t need to be revisited just yet.
But Will has a long history in L.A.’s rave scene: “I went to high school with [Electric Daisy Carnival founder] Pasquale [Rotella],” he told the L.A. Times back in 2012. “Me and Pasquale would go to these raves. We were like in 10th grade whispering, ‘Yo man, you go to that rave last night?’ Our friend would be like, ‘Dude, I’m still rolling’.” So it’s to Will’s credit that his edit is as smooth and service-y as a ‘90s deep-house megamix.
3. Nita Aviance remix
Kevin Aviance is a legend of New York drag scene, and Beyoncé sampled his 1996 gay club banger “C—” on “Renaissance”’s “Pure/Honey.” She further cemented her alliance with the House of Aviance with this edit from the New York fixture Nita Aviance (no familial relation).
Nita gives a little more of a greased-up electro propulsion, with big synth hisses and clanging echoes. It’s no radical departure, but it successfully wrings a distinctive club mix out of a brisk pop single.
2. Terry Hunter remix
The line between “suave jazz-infused deep house” and “hold music for checking into your suite” is a treacherous one. But the Chicago house remix stalwart Terry Hunter sticks the landing beautifully. He adds strutty synth chords and classy piano trills, with a zesty little flute line to bring all home. This is the major-key, magic-hour remix that should prompt you to order that third aperol spritz and see where the night takes you.
1. Honey Dijon Remix
If anyone should be the breakout star for their turn in Beyoncé’s klieg light, it’s Honey Dijon. The trans house producer has been an underground favorite for years (she played an exuberant set at Grand Park just last year).
But after appearing on Bey’s “Cozy,” “Alien Superstar” and “Cuff It,” she returns the favor with the best remix of the lot here — a spicy reimaging of “Break My Soul” as a track that could do some soul breaking of its own. Piercing toms and stabby organs take a perfect vocal hook into even more exalted territory. It’s worth defeating monkeypox if for no other reason than to get to hear this track while smashed up into someone’s gorgeous neck on a dance floor.