Thursday, March 11, 2010


Title: The Grey Album

Jay-Z meets the Beatles in this epic mash up EMI doesn't want you to hear.

Producer Danger Mouse (Gnarls Barkley, Dangerdoom) has chopped up songs from 'the best band in the world' and used them as sampling fodder for a post-modern delight that is sure to have purists screaming "sacrilege"!

Jay-Z's the Black Album provides the vocals but it's the music, with all samples taken from the Beatles' sprawling White Album, that's the real surprise here. It shouldn't work, but it does.

This is no mere mash-up, Danger has crafted a whole new piece of music by reconstructing beats from Ringo's drumming, and tapping into the Beatles most diverse album to create a rich patchwork of guitars, horns, and even a harpsichord.

'Encore' bursts forth with Jay-Z at his self promoting finest; "I came, I saw, I conquered, from record sales to sold out concerts", over an eight second sample of 'Glass Onion's' strings and guitars, punctuated only by a familiar Ringo drum beat and John Lennon's repeated cry of "Oh yeah". That is until the guitar stabs and horn blasts of 'Savoy Truffle' take over for the second verse.

In '99 Problems', one of Jay-Z's best songs, Danger Mouse samples 'Helter Skelter'; without destroying the power of the original song, but instead re-energising it with a speaker stretching bassline and a thumping drumbeat similar to Rick Rubin's production of the song on the original Black Album.

Some will argue The Grey Album tarnishes the Beatles legacy (but they're doing a pretty good job of that themselves -  just listen to Ringo's god awful 'Liverpool 8'). Instead The Grey Album extends their legacy, bringing an albeit abridged version of the White Album to a new generation. What The Grey Album offers Beatles tragics is a fresh take on the fab four's music and a chance to rediscover the little gems of genius in the original songs, whether it be the blistering guitar riff from 'Helter Skelter', or the taste of baroque on 'Piggies'.

Only a few thousand copies of the album were ever pressed. Danger Mouse didn't clear a single sample legally, and it didn't take long for EMI's lawyers to pull the album. But the record is worth a listen, and is readily available on torrent sites and track-for-track on You Tube.

Upside: '99 Problems','Encore'

Downside: Those who aren't fans of hip hop probably won't enjoy Jay-Z's rapping. But believe his own hype.. he really is one of the best.

Best lyric: "Some fools just love to perform. You know the type, loud as a motorbike, but wouldn't bust a grape in a fruit fight."

Sounds like: All the Beatles best hooks, under some of hip hop's best rapping.

What do you think? Would Lennon have liked it or is he spinning in his grave? leave a comment below


  1. Justify My Thug is badass, lennon would get his rocks off to this joint.

  2. Yeah that's another one of my favourites!