Mouse or Beatle?: Listen, then you decide

DJ Danger Mouse:
The Grey Album

 What do you get when you cross the greatest rock band in history with the greatest hip-hop artist in history? We now know the answer.

Let me explain. Approximately three months ago New York rapper Jay-Z announced his official retirement from hip-hop with the release of The Black Album. The album received critical acclaim as being his best effort, lyrically, to date.

Within weeks of its debut, he also released an a cappella version on vinyl. When Atlanta-raised New York resident DJ Danger Mouse got hold of The Black Album a cappellas, his mission was clear: remix the classic self-titled The Beatles album (also known as The White Album) with Jay-Z's lyrics.

The result? The Grey Album, arguably one of the best albums I've heard in the last year.

The Grey Album is far from a publicity stunt or a half-assed attempt at making something special happen. I have to admit that when I first heard of the project, I was intrigued, but a bit skeptical. Rightfully so– I mean, it's the Beatles and Jay-Z, two artists I have the utmost respect for.

I imagined having Danger Mouse's head on the block as I gave the album my first listen, so if it wasn't up to par I could just give the signal to lower the boom on his scrawny neck. But after a few tracks, I quickly knew that The Grey Album was more than just a great idea.

Every sound on The Grey Album is extracted and manipulated from The White Album. Every kick, every snare, every hi-hat is painstakingly cut, filtered, and reprogrammed into beats mimicking the cadences present on The Black Album.

The samples are obsessively chopped, pitched, and arranged to match or enhance the moods and rhythm of Jay-Z's words and voice.

Even though The Grey Album will probably never be officially released, it has already received rave reviews from Rolling Stone, the Boston Globe, and the Village Voice. So far, the album has been available only through illegal downloadable MP3's. EMI has issued warnings that anyone providing these downloads can be sued for unlawful reproduction.

Fortunately, mirror sites are popping up by the dozens that offer the album in its entirety. These sites can be found easily with a simple Google search. I suggest you go to one today. Don't forget to burn a few copies for your friends. Piracy will never feel so good.

Danger Mouse