For Your Listening Pleasure: The Grey Album
Part of the culture of hip-hop music has always been the remix. Song mashups are as old as rappers themselves, and are just getting more and more popular. When Jay-Z released the a cappella version of The Black Album, a ton of remix albums were produced around it, with The Grey Album arguably being the best, and most popular one of them.
The Grey Album is engineered by Danger Mouse, perhaps known as half of the group Gnarls Barkley. For The Grey Album, Danger Mouse took the vocals of The Black Album tracks and set them to samples from The Beatles’ The Beatles. Though the album itself is great, that in and of itself is not what is so infamous about it. After Danger Mouse had finished and sent The Grey Album to retailers, EMI (The Beatles’ copyright holder) sent out cease & desists to everyone involved. Though this was to be expected, as Danger Mouse never got permission to use The Beatles’ music on the album, any publicity is good publicity, and exploded on the Internet.
All history aside, albums are about music, so how does The Grey Album sound? Damn good. The samples are worked around the vocals, not vice-versa, so there is still a solid beat that keeps the album flowing smoothly, even with Jay-Z’s instrumentals missing. While this certainly isn’t the first time a rapper has made a remix or been remixed with a work from The Beatles, I would say this is arguably the most successful attempt. Not every song sounds like the samples were made for the vocals, but most of the tracks go together wonderfully.
Tracks to listen for: “Public Service Announcement”, “Dirt Off Your Shoulder”, and “My 1st Song”