One of the band’s signature songs has been reimagined with a modern hip hop twist
Fifty years after its original release, Chicago’s signature songs, “25 or 6 to 4,” has been reimagined as a hip hop anthem about finding your inner warrior with fiery new vocals by indie rapper realnamejames. An abbreviated version of the remix first appeared in November 2019 as a part of the launch of the U.S. Army’s “What’s Your Warrior?” marketing campaign, which was developed to showcase the breadth and depth of opportunities for today’s youth to achieve their goals in America’s largest military branch. The track sparked conversation and excitement online, and a full-length version of The “25 or 6 to 4 (GoArmy Remix)” is now available for download and on all digital streaming services.
The original version of the song was written in 1969 by Robert Lamm, a founding member of Chicago. Lamm, along with bandmates Peter Cetera, Terry Kath, Lee Loughnane, James Pankow, Walter Parazaider, and Danny Seraphine, recorded the song for the group’s 1970 breakthrough album, Chicago II. Certified platinum by the RIAA, the record reached No. 4 on the U.S. album charts, and “25 or 6 to 4” became the group’s first Top 5 single, peaking at No. 4 and it remains one of their most recognizable songs to this day.
The lyrics of the original song reflect Lamm’s experience writing a song in the middle of the night. The enigmatic title is a reference to the time he was writing the song, 25 or 26 minutes before 4 a.m. While Lamm focused on overcoming a creative hurtle, the new lyrics written for “25 or 6 to 4 (GoArmy Remix)” concentrate on the pursuit of personal achievement.
“I so respect the skills of realnamejames with his tour de force rap that creates a metaphor for bravery and accomplishment, says Lamm. “It’s exciting to have my song morph into a powerful audio/video experience.”
Anchored by a thunderous beat, “25 or 6 to 4 (GoArmy Remix)” skillfully incorporates elements from the original song. The remix includes Kath’s iconic descending guitar riff and Cetera’s impassioned vocals backed by Lamm, while Kath harmonizes the repeated chorus “25 or 6 to 4.” This all comes together with the instantly recognizable horns of Loughnane, Pankow, and Parazaider.
Chicago, known as the “rock band with horns” is one of the longest-running and best-selling groups of all time. It’s the first American band to ever chart albums in Billboard’s Pop Top 40 in six consecutive decades, the highest charting American band in Billboard’s Hot 100 All-Time Top Artists and the No. 4 band on Billboard’s All-Time Top Bands and Duos list. The group’s extensive accomplishments include: two Grammy Awards and a Lifetime Achievement Award from The Recording Academy, multiple American Music Awards, 11 No. 1 singles, five consecutive No. 1 albums and record sales in excess of 100 million with 47 albums earning gold and platinum certification. Chicago was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2016, and Chicago’s first album, Chicago Transit Authority, was inducted into the GRAMMY Hall Of Fame in 2014. In 2017, the Songwriters Hall of Fame inducted songwriters Robert Lamm and James Pankow.
Author: Buddy Iahn
Buddy Iahn founded The Music Universe when he decided to juxtapose his love of web design and music. As a lifelong drummer, he decided to take a hiatus from playing music to report it. The website began as a fun project in 2013 to one of the top independent news sites.