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Op-Ed: The Grey Album Is The Most Phenomenal Accomplishment of The Derivative Culture We Inherited In Music (1 Viewer)

rockaction

Footballguy
I'm here to argue that Danger Mouse's accomplishment of mashing up the Beatles' White Album with Jay-Z's Black Album into the underground sensation known as The Grey Album might be the foremost achievement of what was to be done with music at the end of our logical and experiential universe of pop music.

What I mean by that is that, quite simply, the boomers had taken pop culture as far as it could go with typical pop songs. The Beatles aspired to seriousness with what had once been dance music (rhythm and blues), The Who aspired to operas with it, the more technically inclined had veered into classical through prog. It seems that other than but for dance, pop had ceased to be growing, to be anything but turning inward, genteel in delivery, sentimental in lyric. Stripped back acoustics, a leisurely sound, emotive lyrics became the norm. Those advanced in pyrotechnical pop matters simply fused pop with other longings, creating a new synthesis of sounds. Composition didn't advance, but went sideways. The main improvements were not in composition, it seems, but performance. Other than varying beats and using differing percussion approaches to enhance rock and rhythm and blues into disco and funk and dance, not much was happening. 

So what of this dance music as the next outgrowth of music writ large? Well, differing uses of percussion and horns brought us funk and disco, but those, too, proved a bit limited and quickly became formulaic. But there was a reprieve for those who would seek to carry forward progressive thoughts about music and composition and performance, even. At the end of the enhancements to pop in composition came new enhancements to technology and sound recordings. The manipulation of these recordings by "new" artists like DJ Kool Herc, Grandmaster Flash, and others like Afrika Bambaataa brought a new potential to sound recordings that had ceased to have experimental territories within, at least compositionally. Manipulation of prior recordings was an advance over the recordings themselves, and this manipulation became an art. Beat matching and making sure records flowed so that people at block parties could dance as was once originally intended with pop music became central to the listener and compositional experience. It took a curator's ear mixed with a performative aspect at technologically advanced mixing boards, turning previous sound recordings into something else. Taking a drum loop or a segment of a song and repeating it, all while allowing for emcees to talk to the block parties on the receiving end of the music became an art unto itself, and it would become the dominant art form in the early aughts in the forms of hip hop and rap and/or electronica. 

So if the boomers left us with nowhere really to go but synthesis within pop culture, and technology and sampling improved to the point where derivative culture became the culture, then surely Danger Mouse's achievement is the one that towers above the rest. Taking the most serious of pop artists, The Bealtes, with arguably the most talented front man (or at least most popular to the masses) of the derivative music culture, Jay-Z, Danger posed a way forward with music. Mashing up, or integrating both "What More Can I Say?" with "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" took a genius that, having previously only heard two disparate works of art in almost every respect, took a difficult task and made it flow perfectly in sonics, meter, and rhyme. It took "My Guitar's..." beauty and made it a dance track, updated and reimagined. Additional tracks would continue the album's foray into this. At first blush, it sounds like the two albums were made for each other, complementing and moving in time with each other. As the album progresses, even the most baroque elements of the White Album sound at home with Jay-Z's lyrical stylings. It's a damn impressive feat, thirty years in the making, twenty years ahead of its time. 

Ladies and gentlemen: The Grey Album 

 
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rockaction

Footballguy
This is a thing? 
Oh, do you mean the actual mash-up? Yes, I wouldn't be anything but dead serious. It's a thing, and it's glorious in execution. But you really do have to like Jay-Z, or it's sort of a fool's errand. I'm okay with putting his more egregious boasts aside and just appreciating his flow, so I love it. But the mash-up of the White Album to his Black Album is almost seamless in execution. 

Danger Mouse, for those who don't know, is the DJ behind Cee-Lo Green in Gnarls Barkley (yes, that's a real group, too).

 

massraider

Footballguy
Oh, do you mean the actual mash-up? Yes, I wouldn't be anything but dead serious. It's a thing, and it's glorious in execution. But you really do have to like Jay-Z, or it's sort of a fool's errand. I'm okay with putting his more egregious boasts aside and just appreciating his flow, so I love it. But the mash-up of the White Album to his Black Album is almost seamless in execution. 

Danger Mouse, for those who don't know, is the DJ behind Cee-Lo Green in Gnarls Barkley (yes, that's a real group, too).
No you were right, I was unaware they made vinyl. 

Have ac young brother with a vinyl collection that's really only unusual or interesting pieces. This would make a lovely gift, and he shares a birthdate with the Baby Jesus, so the timing is exceptional

 

rockaction

Footballguy
No you were right, I was unaware they made vinyl. 

Have ac young brother with a vinyl collection that's really only unusual or interesting pieces. This would make a lovely gift, and he shares a birthdate with the Baby Jesus, so the timing is exceptional
One thing is that the track order is apparently a little different than the 2004 order, according to one of the reviews (which are positive). I'm getting it out of convenience. That's just FYI, so that if it matters to you or him, you can look elsewhere. But that would be a great birthday/Baby Jesus gift for sure. 

 
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Bogart

Footballguy

rockaction

Footballguy
Thanks so much for this link. Brother is coming into town for New Years and this is a perfect gift for him. 
 

I might have snagged the last one If the site was telling the truth. 
No sweat. Think it may have been. It said "three" when I purchased it. 

 

rockaction

Footballguy
Yes but what an album! I was just talking about this a week ago with  friend. Incredible stuff.
"What More Can I Say?" mixed with "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" still gives me chills. Like righteous ones, deeply felt. It's just a landmark that would have been the biggest thing in the world but for copyright restrictions. That it's even allowed on YouTube is but for the grace of the sampled artists, because if they were vigilant about their copyright, we wouldn't have it. 

 

Gatorman

Supreme Elite Maximum Tier
Just bought it for my daughter.  Anywhere on a stream?  I'm a digital guy (good or bad).

 

rockaction

Footballguy
Oh man, I hope this isn't a fly-by-night enterprise. 

Be careful, guys. I have no idea about this place. 

The stream is noted in the OP. That was the thrust of this post. The vinyl was only an impulse purchase.  I don't mind eating the forty-five dollars if it blows. Get yr receipts and such. 

 

Bogart

Footballguy
Oh man, I hope this isn't a fly-by-night enterprise. 

Be careful, guys. I have no idea about this place. 

The stream is noted in the OP. That was the thrust of this post. The vinyl was only an impulse purchase.  I don't mind eating the forty-five dollars if it blows. Get yr receipts and such. 
My two copies showed up this morning at like 4:30 am on Christmas morning. It’s a Christmas miracle.  
 

Good packaging. Not fly by night. Thanks again 

 

rockaction

Footballguy
My two copies showed up this morning at like 4:30 am on Christmas morning. It’s a Christmas miracle.  

Good packaging. Not fly by night. Thanks again 
Got mine today. Same experience here with packaging, etc. Happy with the copy so far. 

 

rockaction

Footballguy
Anybody have any reviews or feedback of the actual recording itself from that place selling the vinyl? I'm guessing it's a digital transfer, but I'm just wondering if anybody had heard any feedback. Mine sounds...a little muffled, but that's okay because that's how the original sounded with all that stripping of vox going on. It's more a souvenir than anything else. 

@Bogart

@massraider

Any word? 

If I can pull your asses out of the political threads and into the important stuff. :)

 
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Bogart

Footballguy
Anybody have any reviews or feedback of the actual recording itself from that place selling the vinyl? I'm guessing it's a digital transfer, but I'm just wondering if anybody had heard any feedback. Mine sounds...a little muffled, but that's okay because that's how the original sounded with all that stripping of vox going on. It's more a souvenir than anything else. 

@Bogart

@massraider

Any word? 

If I can pull your asses out of the political threads and into the important stuff. :)


No complaints here. Maybe a little digital which was expected. I don’t have an expensive set-up, a 6 in 1 system with external speakers, so not an audiophile setup by any means. The other copy went to my brother, who has a very professional set-up, I will ask his opinion.

 

rockaction

Footballguy
No complaints here. Maybe a little digital which was expected. I don’t have an expensive set-up, a 6 in 1 system with external speakers, so not an audiophile setup by any means. The other copy went to my brother, who has a very professional set-up, I will ask his opinion.
Thanks. Ah, yes. I expected it to be digital, too. I can hear it in my copy. It's not going to have the warmth of an analog recording. Just impossible given the source materials and the final mix. 

But that would be interesting to hear his opinion. Chances are it's dog poo compared to other recordings. Even my small rig can hear the difference between the analog '70s and '06 or so hip hop recordings. Keep me posted on what he said. Thanks. 

 

The Z Machine

Footballguy
I remember downloading this one back in the day, maybe 2005 or so? I think I listened to it once, maybe twice.  I guess I just don't like Jay-Z that much...

 

Godsbrother

Footballguy
I have to ask if you listened or if you're turned off by the idea of it. 
I clicked on the link and listened to about 5 minutes of it.    Chopping up bits of classic songs and having a rapper speak over top of it is not art to me.  It isn't original and literally anyone could do the same thing.  Of course taste in music is subjective and if you like it then that is all that matters.   

I find it unlistenable though.

 
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rockaction

Footballguy
I clicked on the link and listened to about 5 minutes of it.    Chopping up bits of classic songs and having a rapper speak over top of it is not art to me.  It isn't original and literally anyone could do the same thing.  Of course taste in music is subject and if you like it then that is all that matters.   

I find it unlistenable though.
A sincere thanks for giving it a try. It is indeed chopping up bits of classic songs while an a capella vocal track is laid over it. It takes more talent than I think you're giving it credit for, but that's neither here nor there when it comes to listener enjoyment. Glad you listened and gave it a shot. 

 

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