The Grey Album was a watershed moment in pop culture history. It sparked mash-up culture like few projects before it and was hugely popular all over the world. It bridged hip-hop with the Beatles in an organic manner, meeting with critical acclaim from both sides and garnering rave reviews from every major music publication. It was also immediately outlawed when the world met it.
Back when Jay-Z was ‘retiring’ he released an a capella version of his swan song, The Black Album, for aspiring remixers, DJs, producers or whoever might be interested to put their spin on. Their were sub-par attempts and well received projects, but one towered above all: The Grey Album. A then unknown (out of rap circles) beat creator named Danger Mouse decided to create new beats for the album using nothing but samples from the untitled Beatles album in the white sleeve widely known as The White Album. He figured his idea for what would become The Grey Album was so obvious he needed to do knock it as soon as possible, before somebody else would inevitably come upon the same idea and beat him to the punch. Working for seven days straight with little in the way of sleep and decent food, he managed to amaze a large swath of the public in 2004 and cemented his name in pop culture.
What he didn’t expect however, was the cease-and-desist letter from EMI records landing on his doormat, threatening him with thousands of dollars in damage claims where he to spread the few promotional CDs he had pressed up of his project. Outlawing an almost universally loved piece of music led to the organization of Grey Tuesday, a day in which 300 well-noted music websites collaborated in hosting and promoting a free download of the album for 24 hours and countless people seeded the album through torrent sites, for many people resulting in their first confrontation with bit-torrent technology.
Ironically, by threatening to sue Danger Mouse for thousands of dollars, EMI lost much, much more in potential sales had they worked out a deal. And drove people en masse to downloading music for free, something that would certainly haunt them in years to come. File that under industry rule number 4080.
Sound engineer The John Stewart has taken it upon himself to finally give the project a professional mixdown. The grain in Jay’s vocals remains but the beats are noticeably clearer. You can listen to the stream above for yourself or hit the DL below.
Spotted @ Day & A Dream.
DOWNLOAD: Danger Mouse Presents: Jay-Z & The Beatles – The Grey Album (Re-Mastered) | Separate tracks, fully tagged