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April 4, 2004

{     DJ Danger Mouse The Grey Album     }    

The Grey Album a deft mix of Jay-Z's The Black Album and The Beatles's The White Album has stirred up a hornet's nest of controversy regarding copyright law and the notion of fair-use. What DJ Danger Mouse has done is taken twelve of the tracks from The Black Album, through the virtue of the a capella version releaseed specifically for such a purpose, and combined them with the music of The White Album. Not surprisingly, this was done wholly without consent of the owners of either original work. Also not surprisingly EMI, who owns the masters of the album oft called "The White Album" and are known to be a tenaciously litigious lot, was not pleased and before you can say "hard knock life" or "hard day's night" cease and desist letters were arriving at webmasters and record shops. Naturally, the forbidden fruit aspect only made it that much sweeter to the peer to peer file sharing crowd. Thanks to the folks at "downhillbattle.org":http://downhillbattle.org, as well as a network of highly dedicated filesharers, this little project is relatively easy to locate and download. All this is well and good if you, like me, take issues of fair-use law and sampling rights personally and seriously. What does this mean to those who care less about these highly intricate and esoteric legal proceedings than they do about a good song? A great bit, actually. . . Let's get one thing straight: this is not a re-imagination of The Black Album in a pop context as you may be led to believe, as I did once upon a time. This is a hip-hop album with the beats replaced by the kicks, snares, chords, and baselines of The White Album. Specifically according to EMI's "cease and desist letter":http://downhillbattle.org/grey/emi_cd_letter.html said samples are derived from "Long, Long, Long," "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," "Glass Onion," "Savoy Truffle," "Mother Nature's Son," "Helter Skelter," "Julia," "Happiness is Warm Gun," "Piggies," "Dear Prudence," "Rocky Raccoon," "Revolution 1," "Revolution 9," "I'm So Tired," and "Cry Baby Cry." The two albums mesh together extraordinarily well, thanks to the efforts of Danger Mouse. When I downloaded The Grey Album I had not yet heard all of The Black Album, and had I not known better I might have assumed that this was the way Jay-Z had intended it. It's so artfully blended that the effect is both subtle and remarkable. I particularly love this version of "Change Clothes" which uses elements of "Piggies." For the best performance listen to both the Black and Grey albums back to back. You'll be surprised how well two completely different genres can get along.

     » DJ Danger Mouse
     » Download the BitTorrent file from bannedmusic.org
     » Downhill Battle
     » Grey Tuesday
     » The EFF on Grey Tuesday

     » Buy it...
     » Buy this one too...

Comments

But my god, have you heard any of the other crap that this thing has spurred? The "Double Black Album" (Metallica) or the "Blue Album" (Weezer)? CRAP. Crappity-crap-crap. Oh well, with every success will come the biters...

Posted by: Shane at April 5, 2004 7:20 PM

All of this is just the beginning.
I have to appreciate even the crappiest attempts at combining and remixing existing products.
As Negativland puts it- "Copyright Infringement is your Best Entertainment Value"
I'm feelin' that.

Posted by: Adam at April 6, 2004 10:12 PM

I meant to reference Negativland somewhere in there. I really did. I forgot. My bad.

For those of you who don't know (and shame on you) consider this a homework assignment. Your topic is Negativland and fair-use. Have your papers on my desk by next Wednesday.

Posted by: benjamin at April 6, 2004 11:04 PM

out of 99 problems, a bitch has to be at least one, young hov is a fucking liar, in my book.

Posted by: Bryan at April 7, 2004 8:56 PM

Do you know who Hov's woman is? How could that in any way be problematic?

Posted by: Adam at April 8, 2004 7:37 PM

Don't know when this happened, or how long I've slept on it, but fuck the Grey Album, get with "Yoshimi Battles The Hip-Hop Robots" - http://www.kleptones.com/yhh.html

Posted by: shane at August 24, 2004 7:55 PM
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