Album: Danger Mouse

The Grey Album. (No label)
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The Independent Culture

On paper, it looks like a neat idea: a bootleg soundclash collision between The Beatles' White Album and Jay-Z's Black Album, put together by the production brains behind DM & Jemini's Ghetto Pop Life. All the vocals come from Jay-Z's album, while, we are assured, "every kick, snare, bassline, hi-hat, guitar, etc" is taken from The White Album. In fact, it's a rather lopsided affair, since Jay-Z's vocals remain foregrounded and, apart from the final track, virtually untreated, while the musical elements are pushed, pulled, stretched, chopped and twisted to fit, until they bear scant relation to the original sources. It's possible to discern the more obvious samples - the harpsichord from "Piggies" in "Change Clothes"; the guitar from "Blackbird" beneath Jay's self-admiring bluster in "December 4th"; and, most blatantly, the chunks of "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" that carry "What More Can I Say" - but it would take a real Beatles anorak to spot the sources of individual chords and beats on most tracks. Besides raising the obvious question - how did Danger Mouse acquire the Jay-Z vocal tracks, stripped of their backings, other than with the rapper's tacit consent? - it's a formula that does little justice to The Beatles, compressing, as it does, the breadth of musical imagination and subject matter of The White Album to serve Jay-Z's solipsism.

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