on second thought

Thursday night, put-the-trash-out night. Sharaun met up with a gaggle of females for drinks, dinner, and some movie. Thus the dudes associated with the aforementioned gaggle decided to get together and do stuff. The general idea was pizza, beer, and video games at Anthony’s. Being that there were no women around, we were free to order two vegetable-free triple-meat pies with meat-stuffed crusts. Then we swaggered about the house, swilling beer, scratching ourselves and swearing at each other. As part of the week-in-… ahh, whatever, you know the rest:

When I read an article on BoingBoing the other which called DJ Danger Mouse’s Beatles/Jay Z mashup, the Grey Album, “… the most important album of the 21st century (to date)…,” I decided I better break it out and give it a second chance. I mean, why not? My favorite album of all time, ever, is the Beatles’ White Album. I don’t care what you say about it being the least cohesive, or just a collection of solo material, the band already eroding – it’s not only my favorite Fabs effort, I consider it the best album ever made. Then, there’s Jay Z’s Black Album.

Let me say first that despite my snobbish attitude towards music, I am open to styles beyond my indie-rock stable. It just happens that I discount most of the “rap” and “hip hop” on the Top 40 radio today is pure and utter fluff. Superstar producers who zero in on a market-targeted sound that can’t lose, no matter what puppet you put on the mic. You get a huge collection of songs that make you move your feet, and cover the topics that the shopping mall focus groups said they’re most interested in: sex, thugs, money, cars, etc. It sells, and there’s a whole other argument there about whether or not it serves some non-artistic purpose (it does, IMO, but that’s an entirely different discussion).

Picking up as if that last paragraph were non-existent, we’re back to Jay Z’s Black Album. Because I have a slightly down-the-nose attitude towards rap, I probably don’t get exposed to near enough of it to make a real judgment. But if you were to take me task and ask me, out of all the rap albums I have heard, which I considered the best – it would be the Black Album. Don’t get me wrong, the Chronic and Doggystyle will always remind me of hotboxing the Nissan Sentra in 10th grade… but that’s a different kind of “good.” The Black Album is, to me, one of the only rap albums I occasionally listen to out of my own volition. Not because I’m in my wife’s car, or compromising and giving her a break from my falsett0-drenched indie mainstays, but because I actually enjoy it. It’s a good album, and considering I’m not rap’s #1 fan, it’s a great album. Apparently, I’m not the only shoegazer to think so, either.

When I first heard about Danger Mouse’s mashup, I was interested. I downloaded it, and gave it a spin. Despite being impressed with the technical proficiency evident in the resulting mixes, I wasn’t particularly tickled. That was a long time ago, and I had since deleted the album from my “media” folder. Recently though, my interest got stirred up again with the release of the absolutely brilliant video mashup version of DM’s mashup, “Encore.” So, I decided, since these two albums are are actually both albums I respect and enjoy – I should give DM’s work another chance. I once again downloaded the tracks, and once again cued them up for a critical listen.

So, yeah, I probably was a little too critical the first time around. It’s a solid effort. I still respect it more for its engineering than for its musical content – which is basically made up of two things I already know I like. But it’s a really, really good album. The fact that every little hi-hat, hand clap, bass pluck, and guitar riff, every sound at all in fact, was painstakingly extracted from the White Album and reassembled into completely new tunes makes this thing worth a listen. The most important album of the 21st century thus far, that I’m not so sure about. But it is worth a listen. So go check it out, it’s free, so there are no excuses.

Jeez, I wanted to write one paragraph… one single paragraph, about the Grey Album. Look what it turned into, sometimes I guess I get carried away or something. I didn’t want to do a whole entry the subject, but I did and now I don’t want to write anymore. So I’m out for the week. Flying to Florida on Saturday… will try my best to keep up with this thing while I’m there, I usually do pretty well.

Dave. Is. Out.

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