It's the ultimate remix record: Underground DJ Danger Mouse (a.k.a. Brian Burton) takes a cappella tracks from Jay-Z's The Black Album and composes new beats for each song using only samples from the Beatles' "White Album." The result, the aptly titled Grey Album, is an ingenious hip-hop record that sounds oddly ahead of its time.
"I had seen that there were these a cappella Jay-Z records," says Danger Mouse, a New York native who has found his greatest success in England. "I was listening to the Beatles later that day, and it just hit me like a wave. I was like, 'Wait a minute -- I can do this.' "
Even though DM is limiting his sounds to the two source albums, Grey is hardly a straightforward mash-up record. Jigga's ubiquitous "Change Clothes" is now spit out over some sped-up harpsichords from the Beatles' "Piggies," infusing the track with a goofy bounce. On the other end of the spectrum, the gunning guitar blasts from "Helter Skelter" are cleverly spliced throughout Jay's arrogant "99 Problems," giving the track a rumbling metal undertone that recalls Run-DMC's Raising Hell.
The album will not be sold commercially, but copies are in circulation via the Web -- at press time, representatives for Jay-Z and the Beatles could not be reached for comment.
"If somebody like Ringo or Paul McCartney heard it, I think they would dig it," says Danger Mouse. "If Jay-Z heard it and said, 'This sucks, dude,' then I'd be like, 'OK, everyone please send me back their copies.'"
To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here
Picks From Around the Web
blog comments powered by Disqus