After nearly two years without releasing new music, Beastie Boys‘ Mike D returns with his intense, high-powered remix of Awolnation‘s breakout hit “I Am.” “When I heard ‘I Am,’ it had the anthemic dynamics that we associate with Awolnation,” Mike D told Rolling Stone. “I had a different version in my head of what the song could be, so was happy to be able to manifest that.” The track is available to download now through iTunes.
Diamond’s “I Am” crests and troughs repeatedly through its four-and-a-half minutes, with each segment dramatically different than its previous part. The remix is mainly rooted in trap music, a genre Diamond admitted to being enamored with, but the former Beastie Boy, who met Awolnation’s Aaron Bruno through a mutual acquaintance, also mixes in dub music’s spaciousness and descending repetition with EDM’s manic peaks.
“I’ve been listening to a lot of the trap music the kids like these days,” Diamond told Rolling Stone in 2013, citing TNGHT and Chief Keef. “I’ve gotten really into it. Shit is tight! There was a little bit of Young Chop in there, too, and I also have to give a shout-out to King Louie. It’s interesting – it’s the first time in a while I feel like hip-hop has returned to its raw, stripped-down, drum-machine roots. At the same time, it’s not retro, and works in a club setting.”
In July 2013, Mike D released his solo track “Humberto vs the New Reactionaries: Christine and the Queens Remixx,” a 10-minute cut commissioned by fashion house Kenzo. “It was like creating a film score without having a picture to reference. Usually what I do doesn’t come to life like that,” Diamond told Rolling Stone at the time, adding that the song “definitely got me excited about making new stuff again. I wasn’t planning on that, but once I did it, it was cool.”
A few months later, in November 2013, Mike D dropped his remix for Portugal. The Man’s “Modern Jesus,” but he’s remained largely musically dormant until now.