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Danger Mouse
The Grey Album
by: Sun-J

Nowadays, with copyright laws blindsiding us worse than your girlfriend letting you know she is pregnant, it takes a brave soul to attempt a re-creation, or a hybrid of existing "art," as the musicians refer to it. It takes man without fear. A "Daring Devil" who loves danger. It takes Danger Mouse. All cheesy introductions aside, the man most famed for his hip hop attribution via production for Sage Francis (No, this does not mean I am admitting Sage is hip hop...I still think he is just a poet who yells sonically syllabic combinations over retire-synthetic drum beats) and his work with partner Jemini on Ghetto Pop Life has risked a lot of money (people are getting sued left and right for copyright bullsh**), but opened up a new path for his career.

Already a professional at meshing two unorthodox combinations of musical taste such as Suzanne Vega and 50 Cent, Danger Mouse has dug deep into his collection, back to 1968 to bring together Rock 'n Roll's all time great, and hip hop's reining Don. The Grey Album as it is affectionately called, is a combination of Jay-Z's The Black Album, and The Beatles' The White Album. In my honest opinion, Jay-Z was begging for people to remix his 8th, and so called "final" LP. About two weeks after the release of The Black Album, Shawn Carter went ahead and released an a cappella version of the long play. Already mixed by Kev Brown (The Brown Album), and Kardinall Offishall and Solitaore (The Black Jay's Album), Danger Mouse had the best idea, and ran with it, not even stopping to clear samples extracted from The White Album. In fact, Mouse finished it, pressed close to 3000 copies of it, and sent the albums to radio stations (like KUCI) and specialty hip hop stores like Fat Beats in New York. The album was instantly critically acclaimed, and as soon as Danger Mouse could enjoy his new found respect, the EMI threw down an order of cease of operation, and put a stop to its retail distribution. Interesting how nothing has been laid down for The Black Jay's Album or The Brown Album. The key factor to note about this album is the fact that Danger Mouse meticulously dove into every Beatle's track from The White Album searching for the perfect backdrop, down to each kick, every snare, and all the hi hats from The Black Album. The result is basically a mesh of Prefuse 73 and Incubus.

The Grey Album opens up with "Public Service Announcement." Utilizing the Beatles great, "Long, Long, Long," Danger Mouse sped up the sample which he looped from approximately the 1:55 mark of the original track. For "What More Can I Say," the kid looped the first fifteen seconds of The Beatles' "My Guitar Gently Weeps," and then used the following eight or nine seconds for the chorus. This track definitely has another sample, most likely a non Beatles cut, so I will make like the EMI and "cease" discussion of it. The first verse of "Encore," is backed by "Glass Onion," and the second verse is compounded with "Savoy Truffle." "December 4th" borrows a revamped, chopped up loop from "Mother Nature," while "99 Problems," runs a muck with "Wild Honey Pie," and "Helter Skelter." The best part of this mix is how Danger Mouse even threw in the "Ah's" along with the guitar from "Helter Skelter." "Dirt Off Your Shoulder," is filled with non verbal sounds from "Julia," superimposing an up tempo Southern Fried drum beat which aptly mimics the complex patters of original song producer, Timbalands drum kits. "Moment of Clarity," grabs the guitar from "Happiness is a Warm Gun," and "Change Clothes (the original was a huge disappointment for me)" speeds up, and loops a scale from "Piggies." The "Dear Prudence" parts extracted for "Allure," are difficult to compartmentalize from the other sounds as they are coated by a thick bassline, but the kicks and cymbal crashes are definitely heard. "Justify My Thug," features "Rocky Raccoon," sampling while "Interlude," demonstrates Danger Mouse's true crafting skill as he samples "I'm So Tired," backwards. The final cut should have been left off the album. "My 1st Song," never seems sonically inept. It always feels like the beat is trying to catch up to Jigga man's salivation.

The album as a whole is well produced, and carefully scripted musically. Danger Mouse has done his career a huge favor. originally supposed to be simply just a promotional tool, or as he states on the album, an "experiment," Danger Mouse has definitely caught the eyes of Hip Hop's elites. The copies are extremely difficult to find, and in fact our KUCI copy seems to be missing at the moment. If you can't find in through eBay, perhaps searching Google would not be that bad of an idea. There are a ton of pissed off hippie, artsy fartsy types revolting against the EMI by placing the album online available for download. Good luck, not that you will need it.


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