The Grey Album 

It's a reasonable fear that two polar opposites like Jay-Z's Black Album and The Beatles' The White Album, when forced into the sample-sack together, would end up sounding no better than any of P-Diddy's hackneyed platinum abominations. However, in DJ Danger Mouse's deft idol-smashing hands, the result is both listenable and fascinating—particularly for the tracks which quite gel. Jay-Z, who has always valued flow and enunciation over vocal expression, sounds on some of the livelier songs—"99 Problems/Helter Skelter" in particular—like the hip-hop equivalent of Ben Stein, floundering in a pool of techno-pudding. Likewise, on the second Black Album single "Brush Your Shoulders Off" remixed with Lennon and McCartney's sleepy ballad "Julia," DJ Danger Mouse toils maniacally to make two thoroughly incompatible tunes waltz. The result isn't danceable, isn't cruise-friendly and sounds like Timbaland's most whacked out, stuttering beat being played backwards through a robotic spleen. In other words, better than 90 percent of current hip-hop, Jay-Z included. It, like The Grey Album as a whole, is both a captivating deconstruction of the now retired "Jigga Man" and a welcome rumination on The Beatles—how often do we get to hear those hallowed mops in a lowly backup role? Dowload it at to www.bannedmusic.org.

—Nicholas Collias

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