The Grey Album is a mix CD created by DJ Danger Mouse which caused quite a stir upon its release a couple years ago. Meant as a demo he could distribute to showcase his mixing & sampling skills, Danger Mouse created the album by combining lyrics from Jay-Z’s The Black Album with music samples and elements of the Beatles’ White Album. This resulted in an interesting fusion of modern hip-hop with vintage rock & roll.
Members of Beatles Nation opposed this unauthorized repurposing of the group’s work more strongly than Jay-Z. In fact, Jay-Z released a vocals-only version of The Black Album to allow DJs to do exactly what Danger Mouse did with his lyrics. Despite the opposition and cease & desist orders courtesy of EMI on behalf of the Beatles, The Grey Album is still available for free on the Internet for anyone interested in taking it for a spin — though you may have to jump through a couple hoops.
Start here to get an interesting legal perspective supporting Danger Mouse’s creation. There’s also a link to the album and the software needed to download it at the bottom of that page.
If you like Jay-Z’s lyrics and want to experience some clever sequencing and sampling, you should check it out. If you’re a Beatles purist, do not, under any circumstances, listen to this work…well, unless you’re a big Jay-Z fan as well. 😉
There are several tracks that were extremely well done. Keep in mind every musical note & rhythm under Jay-Z’s words was meticulously crafted by isolating, sampling, layering and combining individual sounds from various songs on the White Album. My favorite songs, chronologically:
- “Public Service Announcement”
- “What More Can I Say”
- “December 4th”
- “Justify My Thug”
- “My 1st Song”
That’s half the album which isn’t bad. Curiously, my favorite two tracks from The Black Album, “Threat” (a 9th Wonder classic) and “Lucifer” (pure Kanye West genius) are both absent from The Grey Album.