“The Mother of the MP3” and The Power of a Remix




While listening to Music Choice this evening on a random 90s music vibe, I heard “Tom’s Diner” by Suzanne Vega. It got me to thinking about listening to one of my favorite 90's hip hop and R & B jams entitled “Back to Life” by Soul to Soul.

I knew that the beat behind “Tom's Diner” was also the same beat behind “Back to Life” and I looked up and found out who the producers were. Jazzy B and Nellee Hooper are the two producers of “Back to Life” and they both have had productive careers since.  Jazzy B was knighted by the Queen and Nellee went on to work with Bjork and even worked with U2 on the theme for James Bond’s “GoldenEye.”

In researching the Suzanne Vega song I found out that a duo of producers, Nick Batt and Neal Slateford, who go by the name of DNA, basically took the acapella of Suzanne Vega’s song, sampled her improvisation in the end of the song as the hook (unbeknownst to Vega or her label), and put the “Back to Life” beat behind it.  It was a remix track mainly done for DJs but when the label got wind of it, they decided to put it out because of the traction it was getting.  The remix went on to do better than the original making it to #5 on the US Billboard chart.


But I also found out something even more interesting, I didn’t know that Vega is called “The Mother of the MP3.” The developer of the technology, Karlheinz Brandenburg , used “Tom’s Diner” to test his compression algorithm.  He liked the warmth of Vega’s voice and wanted to make sure his compression didn’t take it away. You never know what you can learn when you allow yourself to go down the rabbit hole of research.



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