A dangerous mind

Keri Carlson

Danger Mouse’s “Grey Album” will likely be an album still talked about 20 years from now. Maybe even 50. Maybe more.

It’s hard to say for sure what the significance of the album is right now. It could be as little as, you’ll think back and vaguely remember hearing the album. Or, you’ll get to boast to your grandchildren about the day you stuck up your middle finger to the record companies and downloaded “The Grey Album.”

Here’s the deal: Like so many other hip-hop fiends and disc jockeys, producer Brian Burton, under the name Danger Mouse, created his own remix of Jay-Z’s “The Black Album.” Even with all the other remixes floating around cyberspace, Danger Mouse’s stood out for its simple genius. He mixed Jay-Z’s “The Black Album” with the Beatles’ “The White Album” to make “The Grey Album.” It was too perfect ñ Jay-Z’s “99 Problems” with the Beatles’ “Helter Skelter” fits together seamlessly.

“The Grey Album’s” significance is more than simply a cool mash up. If Danger Mouse gets sued, which is highly probable, it could be huge in determining and re-examining copyright laws. And if it hasn’t already, it could show how powerless major labels are becoming.

But Burton is not here just to get under the skin of record companies. He probably did not make the record thinking it would lead to millions of downloads and a couple of lawsuits; he just had to make the album. Burton is obsessed with music. All music. He is a true record geek, which is obvious when listening to the music he creates for his emcee partner, Jemini. Their album “Ghetto Pop Life” finds Danger Mouse mixing furious choirs, bouncing bass lines and even sampling indie rockers Broadcast, all over throbbing hip-hop beats. Danger Mouse, perhaps better than anyone, appeals to the two sides of hip- hop: mainstream and underground. His eclectic mix of lushly layered samples would make any Rhyme Sayers fan bob his or her head. But Danger Mouse’s slick beats are just as ass-shaking worthy as 50 Cent.

While most of “Ghetto Pop Life” superbly plays with this mix, occasionally, Jemini upsets it with trite lyrics of thug love and big dicks. His bragging has been done before and he offers little variation or unique rhyme schemes that would set him apart. When he attempts to step outside the club life and talk about politics, his observations are pretty simple and obvious. Again, Jemini repeats what many rappers have already said without any real impressive lines or rhymes. But Jemini does shine on certain tracks like “Omega Supreme,” where he says, “Sometimes I get sperm in my eye ‘cuz I be on my own dick.”

When Jemini claims he is “Prince of the ghetto” over rich soul guitars on the same track, Danger Mouse and Jemini truly belong together. It’s like Danger Mouse is once again setting Jay-Z against a pop backdrop.