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Tuesday, 24 February - link

fade to grey

Steve Rhodes read out loud a New Yorker article from his Treo as we sped up the California central highway. "'After hip-hop fans hear it, they're like, "I gotta get this 'White Album,'"' Burton said."

Rapper Jay-Z released a "Black Album" and DJ Dangermouse remixed that with the Beatles "White Album" - making the eminently logical "Grey Album." The music of the Beatles is artfully chopped, spliced and shoveled out under Jay-Z's hard spit self-contemplation. Merging the revolutionary music of the 1970s and the 2000s.

I rushed home to download the Gray Album from Illegal Art. I was instantly in love - mixing cultures that don't otherwise touch, the tender strains of master melodists bent to serve rapid rhythm. Fantastic. Jay-Z I don't know too well; I admired his use of interview and his rhyming flow is tight. I recommended the album to friends on the strength of tracks like December 4, Change Clothes and Brush Your Shoulder Off. Other tracks like 99 problems are a bit of the usual boy's club for me. I've gotten older and spent less time listening to the word bitch. Ultimately, his humble, sad retiring tone, staring into mortality and fate, redeems the less-than-exceptional themes. And hearing the Beatles mixed up underneath is a double-barrel music blast.

I carried the album's MP3 around on a USB key and left copies of it where I could. The DJ at Boujis played an original Jay-Z album cut and I thought about giving him a copy of the remix, but I didn't have the digital music in the disco. I thought about buying it on CD for my brother, but I couldn't - the Beatles didn't clear the samples, and they wouldn't. It's too much weirdness done to a tightly preserved legacy.

Copyright laws should enable people to get paid for their work, for a time. John and George are dead. Paul and Ringo are alive, and well-paid. Isn't there a way that young artists should be able to freely reinterpret their legacy, paying royalties from any resulting sales?

So, Happy Grey Tuesday.

Posted on 24 February 2004 : 09:12 (TrackBack)
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Justin's Links, by Justin Hall.