Usually totally unsanctioned, highly unofficial and often facing legal action – the mash-up album remains one of the internet’s finest gems. A musical treasure that seems impossible to budge from the world wide web.
The premise is usually simple: combining two artists or albums to create one strange hybrid.
Often, the ‘mash-up’ is more gimmick than substance – a pun-heavy name (eg. Jay Z and Radiohead = Jaydiohead) is strung out for a fairly clunky few tracks.
But when the combination comes from a genuine love for both artists featured, they can be works of beauty. Here are five of our favourites that you should peruse the internet for.
1. ‘Yasiin Gaye’ by Amerigo Gazaway (2014)
It’s hard not to jump to the conclusion that this could be ‘all-good-name-no-substance’ but 2014’s Yasiin Gaye/The Departure may be one of the finest mash-ups of them all. The combination of Mos Def’s lyrical dexterity with the smooth, soulful tones of Marvin Gaye is a mouth-watering prospect. Add to that a producer who clearly loves both subjects and you have an album full of rare interview extracts, live performances and studio outtakes. This isn’t just a mash-up album – it’s a treasure chest of lesser-known goodness that accentuates the best of both artists.
2. ‘The Grey Album’ by Danger Mouse (2004)
Possibly the most famous mash-up album of them all, The Grey Album once featured in the record books as the ‘most downloaded pirate album of all time’ – to be honest that could still stand, though no one reads the Guinness World Record books after the age of 13. Danger Mouse’s decision to put some Merseybeat backing to the entirety of Jay Z’s seminal The Black Album was an ambitious project expertly pulled off.
Obviously, the project was prohibited by EMI, but did however get the backing of Jay, Paul & Ringo – no mean feat. ‘The Grey video’ below is worth checking, mainly to watch John Lennon pop and lock.
3. ‘Aphex Swift’ by David Rees (2014)
You know that feeling when you hate yourself for enjoying something? Well, David Rees’ combination of America’s sweetheart and Cornwall’s oddball invokes that emotion. Aphex Swift should be totally, totally crap – but seems to bypass any part of your brain that validates music and hits you straight in the happy chemicals. Go on, pretend you don’t like it.
4. ‘Ocarina of Rhyme’ by Team Teamwork (2009)
Possibly the nerdiest mash-up on the list. The combination of Zelda with some filthy hip-hop lyrics isn’t always a match made in heaven – but when it works, there is something strangely great about this.
5. ‘The Notorious XX’ by Wait What (2010)
Indie darlings The XX got the hip-hop treatment back in 2010, with Notorious stepping up to deliver some vocals. The slowed-down pace of the XX tracks takes a few tracks to really get into, but once you’re in The Notorious XX is like some beautiful melancholy hip-hop record. We’re ready for some sad rap.
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