Today in Hip Hop History: February 3, 2004
The modern day SoundCloud mashup owes a great deal to this album; without it they wouldn’t be the same.
13 years ago today, underground hip hop producer Danger Mouse released his second project, The Grey Album, which sling-shotted him into the forefront of the music industry. The Grey Album was originally an experimental project he composed for his friends but it leaked and spread through the internet like wildfire. The album is a colorful mix of Jay Z’s classic LP The Black Album and The Beatles’ double LP The White Album. Sometimes I wonder why Danger Mouse named his mashup as such.
Relatively unnoticed and at the early stages of his career, Danger Mouse could not have expected the waves he created with The Grey Album. Upon its release, the record label EMI moved to block any distribution of the album on grounds of copyright through their ownership of The White Album. This sent shock waves and backlash throughout the industry. Several websites uploaded free copies of the album claiming his sampling falls under fair use. Even the two sampled parties, Jay Z and the two remaining Beatles, supported it.
I didn’t mind when something like that happened with The Grey Album. But the record company minded. They put up a fuss. But it was like, ‘Take it easy guys, it’s a tribute.’
Among all the industry controversy, The Grey Album represented the new age of music that enjoyed success from the rise of the internet. It brought up issues with remix culture and introduced the “mashup” to a much wider audience than previously seen. The album most likely inspired the famous hip-hop/rock mashup from none other than Jay Z himself: Collision Course with Linkin Park. The Grey Album also introduced the world to Danger Mouse, who would go on to produce Demon Days, The Mouse & The Mask, St. Elsewhere, At.Long.Last.ASAP, and many more great works.
Above all, The Grey Album represents a movement towards artistic freedom. The mashup album inspired many and foretold of a modern day music industry in which anybody can display their talents without any barriers to entry. Not to mention the mainstream recognition of unprecedented but extremely dope “collaborations.”
Thirteen years later we still witness the effects of the phenomenal Grey Album. Stream the album here:
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