Stung Eye
Stung Eye

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Today is Grey Tuesday, a day of coordinated digital disobedience.

Some history:

  • In 1968 at the height of their popularity, the Beatles released a self-titled double album. This came to be known as the White Album.
  • In 2003, Jay-Z recorded what was to be his final album. This came to be know as the Black Album.
  • For two and a half weeks in December of 2003, Dj Danger Mouse remixed the White Album with an a capella version of the Black Album. This came to be know as the Grey Album.

    I am a fan of both the Beatles' music and hip-hop, this album is astonishing juxtaposition of the two. This isn't a simple case of playing Jay-Z's lyrics over instrumental segments from the White album; the Beatles' masterpiece has been deftly sliced, diced and reworked almost beyond recognition. EMI (the copyright holder for the White Album) is not impressed with the handiwork of Mr. Danger Mouse. In fact, they have been issuing cease and desist letters demanding that stores destroy their copies of the album. (Update: They have now begun sending cease and desist letters to websites participating in Grey Tuesday.)

    From a press release by Downhill Battle, organizers of Grey Tuesday:

    "It's clear that this work devalues neither of the originals. There is no legitimate artistic or economic reason to ban this record this is just arbitrary exertion of control," said Nicholas Reville, Downhill Battle co-founder. "The framers of the constitution created copyright to promote innovation and creativity. A handful of corporations have radically perverted that purpose for their own narrow self interest, and now the public is fighting back."

    The reporters and news outlets that reviewed the Grey Album have obtained it illegally from filesharing networks. "If music reviewers have to break the law to hear new, innovative music, then something has gone wrong with the law," said [Downhill Battle's Rebecca] Laurie.

    To download a copy of the Grey Album, install a bitTorrent client (Shareaza for example) and then download this torrent file (6kB). Next, double-click the torrent file to begin downloading the Grey Album.

    If you are not comfortable using bitTorrent, you can check here for a list of websites which are also hosting the album.

    It should be noted that DJ Danger Mouse isn't the only producer to have re-spun Jay-Z's Black Album a capellas. Discover the other remixes here.

    (Related: A short stungeye post on samples/sampling.)



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