Sir Mix-a-Lot Goes Classical(ish) at the Seattle Symphony

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Back when it was new, classical music was the Top 40, sometimes the one-hit wonder, of its time. Without radio, recordings, or real genres to speak of, classical music was pop music. So maybe it’s not that weird to hear a symphony take on a, well, classic of the early ‘90s: Sir Mix-a-Lot’s “Baby Got Back.”


It’s the work of the Seattle Symphony, and it’s not just a lulzy thing for the internet, supposedly. Rather this new take on Seattle native Mix-A-Lot’s ode to assets is part of a symphony series dubbed Sonic Evolution, which, according to Rolling Stone, reimagines works by the city’s musical icons.

The composer of the new version, Gabriel Prokofiev, explained his thinking on his blog:

“So my aim with this new Sir-Mix-A-Lot inspired Orchestral work was to really get inside the musical mind of Sir Mix-A-Lot; to understand how his rhythms, textures, sounds and harmonies worked, and to create a contemporary orchestral composition that was true to the music of Sir-Mix-A-Lot. My aim was to make an orchestral fantasy that evolved out of the wildest musical elements of Sir Mix-A-Lot, and took all the central elements of his music into a contemporary classical orchestral setting.”


So, did he achieve this? Check out the video below. Prokofiev boasts a background, he says, in programming bass beats, so the hip-hop backbone of the original is a musical structure with which he’s well familiar. Skip ahead to about 2:30 where the music starts, and where you’ll instantly recognize the original’s rattling introductory beats. Warning: This video contains awkward twerking by Seattleites dressed for the symphony.

Arielle Castillo is Fusion's culture editor, reporting on arts, music, culture, and subcultures from the streets on up. She's also a connoisseur of weird Florida, weightlifting, and cats.

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