Top 100 Albums of the Decade: #45 Danger Mouse - Grey Album
Top 100 Albums of the Decade list will be posted over the course of 100 days. On September 23rd, we will post one album and continue every day until December 31st, when we will unveil our #1 album of the decade!
Please read our introduction to learn about our nominating and ordering process.
#45 Danger Mouse - The Grey Album
We have this romantic notion that brilliant music will always find its way to a wider audience, that gems will always make themselves known to the people who seek them out. Unfortunately, that's rarely the case. Local geniuses get buried in their self-contained, small hometowns; innovation drowns out under the din of marketable predictability. There are countless albums and artists you'd love that you will never, ever discover, simply because there isn't room for them in the public consciousness.
The Grey Album is an exception to that bleak outlook - it's legendary for finding the limelight against the odds, and thank goodness it did. A mashup of Jay-Z's vocal takes from The Black Album over cut-up samples from The Beatles' White Album, it was originally prepped for one-off distribution to some of DJ Danger Mouse's friends. But a few goodwilled recommendations, lots of buzz and one Grey Tuesday later, the album emerged as one of the best of the year - and one of the best remix albums ever constructed. Not a bad omen for musical underdogs to come.
The thing that sets this apart from other projects of similar nature (at least ten themed remix albums surfaced from the acapellas of The Black Album alone) is the attention to detail. Danger Mouse hacked, filtered and rearranged The Beatles instrumentals to a perfect extent; most songs are manipulated into hip hop backdrops, but none are deconstructed beyond recognition. The result is an eye-opening case study which pushes the notion that wildly divergent genres have a surprising amount in common. Rather than tossing a few vocal tracks over incongruous instrumentals and calling it a day, Danger Mouse tweaked it down to an artform, a testament of how sampling can be handled in a creative and innovative manner. It's not a rehash and it's not a gimmick - it's a work of art, and it's one of our best albums of the decade.
Check back tomorrow for the next album! To see the full list of the Top 100 Albums of the Decade, click here.