Review Summary: R to the izz-a, d to the izz-i...
If you’ve payed even the slightest bit of attention to the “mash-up” phenomenon of the past few years, you’ll have certainly picked up on at least two facts. The first is that when it comes to picking a capella tracks for your mash-ups, Jay-Z is always worth a shot. The second is that pitting Jigga against strange bedfellows is also a surefire winner. Acts like The Beatles (The Grey Album
), Metallica (The Double Black Album
), Coldplay (Viva la Hova
) and even Pavement (The Slack Album
) have all had their music cut up and reworked to suit the ever-impressive flows of Sean Carter.
After their first showdown on Girl Talk’s Feed the Animals
(“Roc Boys” over “Paranoid Android”), it’s now Radiohead’s turn. Thanks to the work of relative unknown Minty Fresh Beats, Jaydiohead
is a daring, ambitious project. Oh, and this one could just be the best of the Hova mashups since The Grey Album
The premise is quite simple- take a capellas of Jay-Z tracks and place them over reworked Radiohead instrumentals. Through ten Jay tracks, nine Radiohead tracks and one Thom Yorke track, Jaydiohead
once again challenges and severely alters the environment in which one normally finds the lyrics. Especially in the case of Radiohead’s music, which could arguably be the most polar opposite, the songs transform significantly under the musical guise of Thom Yorke and friends.
“99 Anthems” as a prime example, drags “99 Problems” from its triumphant and slightly arrogant original habitat and makes it an edgy, paranoid and decidedly angry song with the backdrop of “The National Anthem”; more suited to East London than the streets of New York. “Wrong Prayer”, too, makes Jay’s poverty-stricken storytelling in “Pray” seem that much more sinister when paired with “I Could Be Wrong”; and “Moment of Clarity” is streamlined into commandeering aggression via Radiohead’s “Optimistic” on “Optimistic Moment”.
It’s not all about Hova’s dark side, though: “Dirt Off Your Android” is easily the most energetic and boppy of the lot, whilst the acoustic guitar of “Gagging Order” gives a strange sense of optimism and reflection to “Never Change”. This is especially interesting in the fact that these emotions are the last things that would spring to mind when listening to either of the original cuts. The recomposing of both Jay-Z and Radiohead’s songs on Jaydiohead
throughout the album bring out sides of both artists in a subtle yet highly effective way.
Of course, Jigga and Thom doesn’t always agree with their pairings. “All in Step” is a total mess as the 5/4 of In Rainbows
opener “15 Step” attempts (and fails) to warp into a time signature that allows “Fallin’” to flow properly. Closing track “Ignorant Swan” fumbles the ball significantly around the point that Beanie Sigel enters Thom Yorke’s “Black Swan” beat (highly disappointing, given the track’s obvious hip-hop potential). The mash-up and production process on behalf of Mr. Minty Fresh is obviously quite raw and just a little amateur. Still, it’s much more often a hit than a miss. The Radiohead samples perfectly select the most crucial, menacing parts of the song and turn them into something that can loop incessantly and not become annoying.
For a first proper attempt at an entire album of mash-ups, there’s certainly enough here on Jaydiohead
to impress Jay-Z fans, Radiohead fans and mash-up fans alike.
Get on top of this now before the RIAA shuts it down.