POPCULTURE: Beatles + Jay-Z = WTF!

by phil on Friday Feb 13, 2004 8:52 PM

DJ Danger Mouse has taken the a capella version of Jay-Z's Black Album and laid it on top of the Beatle's White Album. The result, as any finger-painting kindergartner knows, is the Grey Album.

Before I get into discussing the album itself, let me first describe the very memetic-like way I stumbled upon it. If you want to skip ahead straight to the mp3s, click here. Otherwise, read on.

It's like the world has been conspiring to make me hear this album. First a blurb in the New Yorker was seducing me to pay attention. It's attempt was in vain, though, as the headline mentioned something about mice. This did not do justice to the energy that this album actually represents. Needless to say, I was not sold and I ignored this mention. However, as you'll see, this blurb nested into my subconscious and returned back later.

A couple days went by, and then my trendy cousin all of a sudden started saying weird stuff like, "GREY ALBUM DUUUDE... IZ TIGHT." Since I had no idea what the hell he was blabbing about, I sent him to AOL Instant Messaging Ignore-Land.

It was only until finally, I caught Xeni Jardin from BoingBoing frothing over the album. And because I'm always one to follow the techno-er33ts at BoingBoing, I quickly double-backed and dug through my New Yorker archives to find the original article. I had remembered the mouse reference, and so I was resurrecting the original plug that I thought I had forgotten. I finally read the article and was inspired, and then I sent myself on a frantic mission to find the mp3s. I didn't have to fret for too long, though, as an hour later, boom, there it materialized on BlogDex. I got the mp3s in about 10 minutes, and soon my apartment was groove-city. I had White psychadelic beats tangoeing with Black, modern, ghetto rhymes. O, the eclectisism was eclat! And it made think about how much I love our connected world.

So now that I have the mp3s, what do I think? It rulez! The remixing is wild and crazy, but it works. The Beatles music is rotated around like those spinning rides at carnivals. Beatles's fans will appreciate this exotic reformulation of their great works. And then there's Jay-Z, the master-of-the-universe rapper-king, whose prose hits the ears like prophecies.

You got to listen to this album.

In the process, I also noticed some technical details on the DJing; it seems like Danger Mouse dances around with the same amateur tricks I learned playing with my speaker-buttons, Sound Forge, and Winamp!

One of the tricks is the easiest. You take any playback device and just press the mute button twice. The effect is a sharp skip to silence, similar to the drops in Madonna's "Die Another Day" song. At first it scares you into thinking, "Oh wait, where did my music go," but then a split-second later, your heart resumes beating and you're back to grooving.

Another trick I noticed was similar to a software trick in SoundForge. With this program you can take any track and click-jump around in real-time so that it sounds like your computer is stuttering. Like th-th-th-th-th-this.

Finally, a third trick Danger Mouse uses is the the whole "computer crash" effect. This happens to me when I'm playing an mp3 and then all of a sudden, I get Microsoft's Blue Screen of Death. What happens then is that the latest millisecond sample from Winamp will loop rapidly like a machine gun. The sound is so grating and annoying that I scramble to unplug my computer before I go nuts. Fortunately, this irritating annoyance on the computer becomes a magical, crunchy pop-rock sound in Danger Mouse's hands.

Enough talk already, though, let's hear the music. Go download the last song here just to get started. I'll let you draw your own conclusions.

A note on the mp3 link: if that site goes down, check out BlogDex again, it will re-bubble up there if it needs to. Man, I love the Internet.

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