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  • Jonathan Widran

KENNY MCNEIL & MATTHEW SHELL, "My Ride or Die (Rock Remix)"

Some tracks are so exciting, inspiring and soul-provocative, they seriously just scream out for a boatload of remixes presenting them in different forms for different audience tastes. As I exclaimed in my recent write up on the feisty House Remix of Kenny McNeil and Matthew Shell’s fun, freewheeling and wildly danceable romp “My Ride or Die,” they “seem excited about presenting the infectious and irrepressible track in so many colorful, beat intensive ways.”

Yet as a major fan of their adventurously exotic jazz pop soul vibe, before all the recent studio wizardry took the song to otherworldly new levels, I was quite satisfied listening to their original version. Upon its release, I called “My Ride or Die” “one of the most gloriously sexy and groovin’ Afrobeat jams you’re ever bound to hear” before mentioning what the song might do to the listener’s ever-groovin’ body and toe tappin’ soul. At the heart of the tune are the intoxicating rhythms and Kenny’s seductive singing in “Pidgin,” a Nigerian dialect poular in the Afrobeats culture.

The original radio edit was released with a six minute plus version which included improvisational solos by guitarist Sami Turunen (jamming over fiery horns and percussion) and saxophonist Douglas Lira, who brought his emotionally intense magic over the snappy basslines and percussion. Most recently, they dropped to YouTube and Spotify what I THOUGHT was the ultimate “My Ride or Die” experience with their House Remix, a high octane, synth happy, 124BPM DJ Edit. It was a dance floor dreamscape, complete with heavy thumping, intensifying beats and those colorful, relentless synth patterns.

The duo’s explosive latest version, “My Ride or Die” (Rock Remix) is for the hard rockers and their fans, metalheads, those who miss Eddie Van Halen – anyone who likes their island vibes with more scorch and aggression. The hardest chugging three minutes and seven seconds you’ll enjoy, jam or work out to all year, the track features the locomotive, intensely crunching electric guitar riffs of featured artist Lazzo over the original funky grooves, island vibes and Kenny’s breakneck fast vocals.

Even during a spot where the tune slows down, the simmering electricity pops in the background. The fast fury of the guitar is in quick synch throughout with Kenny’s punchy free flow. A few minutes in, Kenny takes a breather and Lazzo goes wild with a surreal, Grammy worthy blistering (yet all too brief) solo. That gives way to a feisty, soaring Lira sax solo backed by the ongoing crunch before Kenny gets back in the mix.

A note on the killer video McNeil and Shell had put together for the rock remix. Filled with aggressive imagery of buff male and female boxers in heavy training in the gym or in industrial/dark places and gorgeous outdoor places, it’s like the 2020’s equivalent of the “Eye of the Tiger” energy and vibe of “Rocky III”!

If the message of “My Ride or Die” resonates, and the House Remix is the first time you’ve happened upon the sonic magic and fire the groundbreaking duo of McNeil and Shell can do, I urge you to give a listen to their epic early 2023 concept album We’ll Find a Way II: The Chill Afrobeat Album, which established this exotic fusion and globally conscious island based vibe as their primary means of expression. The collection has been submitted to the GRAMMY's balloting process for Best Alternative Jazz Album.

JW Vibe is proud to have the exclusive to the above music video.

Listeners can pre-save this rock remix at


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