Mars Life


Shades of Grey - A Grey album review

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There's been much talk about copyright infringement as of late (here and here, for example) and more specifically, DJ Dangermouse's recent project, The Grey Album (here and here, for example).

Well, as the saying goes, no publicity is bad publicity. I was never a DJ Dangermouse listener prior to this whole controversy, but I've always loved the Beatles' White Album, DJ music in general, and hip-hop. This project was a must-listen for me as soon as I heard about it.

Let me put the hubbub aside for a moment and talk a bit about the album itself, and how it stands up on its own two feet. Briefly, for those who haven't heard of the album yet, what DJ Danger Mouse did is to take an a capella version of Jay Z's The Black Album, and put those lyrics over beats created from samples taken from The Beatles' The White Album. The result works very well, and truly shows DJ Danger Mouse's abilities as a DJ and producer.

The beats created are very well put together, and really nice to hear, since sampling of the Beatles works is such a big no-no. The "While my Guitar Gently Weeps" sample fits perfectly over the lyrics to Jigga's "What More Can I Say". The choruses meld together quite nicely to complement each other. Danger Mouse's dropouts are perfect punctuation for Jigga's lyrics. I honestly got goose bumps. 99 Problems displays a nice fusion of select snippets from "Wild Honey Pie" and "Helter Skelter." The beat on "Dirt Off your Shoulder" is almost like John Lennon meets Bobby McFerrin. Danger Mouse uses a very intelligent use of vocal non-verbal sounds (from "Julia") over a very up-tempo, dirty south reminiscent beat. This track is a wonderful contrast to the very lovely and somber "Julia". On "Allure," "Dear Prudence"'s guitar is looped with predominant kicks and a crash to create a wonderfully melodic beat. Overall, Danger Mouse undoubtedly put a lot of thought into the actual production of the beats and matching them to tracks.

All in all, the clarity is a little less than usually desirable, but one must remember that an album like this can't really be compared to major label recordings. Since the predominant distribution for this album is via unauthorized internet sites, you can't really be sure of the source. I also wonder about the equipment used to produce the source. Aside from that, Jay-Z’s not one of my favorite emcees, but a good beat does a lot to make up for that, and this album is a wonderful example.

All in all, my recommendation would be to definitely listen to this if you’re a fan of one album and at least impartial to the other. The album is currently available at

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