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Danger Mouse: The Mouse That Mixed

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Producer Danger Mouse has been around for a couple years making a name for himself in the underground by ignoring industry trends and concocting unorthodox medleys. His debut album Ghetto Pop Life starring Danger Mouse and Gemini was lauded by UK publications The Face and The Guardian as the best Hip-Hop album of the year alongside Outkast’s Speakerboxx/Love Below.

With props in the UK intact Danger Mouse recently moved back to the States and after making a remix album for Jay-Z’s Black Album with beats exclusively crafted from pieces of the Beatles classic White Album, he is starting to get his due in America as well. Americans celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Beatles American splashdown and Hip-Hop rejoice in Jay-Z’s illustrious AllHipHop.com opted to check out what the next creative force has to say about melding the two into one.

AllHipHop.com: What inspired you to marry two classic albums into your own creation?

DM: I’m a real big Beatles fan and obviously a real big Jay-Z fan too. So I was just sitting here and saw that they had acapella’s for it and people were doing remix albums and I thought that’s cool but I really didn’t want to give any of my original beats for a remix album, I’d rather use them for some of the other projects I was working on. I didn’t really thing too much of it. A few days later I was sitting here listening to the Beatles and it just hit me all of a sudden, I was listening to the White Album and I realized it just kind of hit me all at once. So I just took the next few weeks and just cancelled everything I was doing and just stripped down the record, kept all the drums spread them all out. Took little guitar parts, everything I could find that I could use and started pasting together tracks based on that.

AllHipHop.com: That sounds like a difficult process

Danger Mouse: It was very tempting at times to use other drums and stuff like that but it was really hard. The hardest part was the last 25%. Some of the best stuff came right at the beginning but as I was finishing it was just really stressful because there’s no point in doing six songs. I did leave one Jay-Z song off of there (Threats) because I just felt like it was done, what I had was complete. Near the end I couldn’t stop doing it because I was so afraid that somebody else might come up with the idea.

AllHipHop.com: How long did the entire process take?

DM: You know I’m a video game fan so I started clocking it like in Grand Theft Auto, see how long it takes you to beat the game kind of thing and then one day I forgot to start the clock.. At that point I was at 200 hours; I was doing 10 and 15 hour days for a few weeks.

AllHipHop.com: What made you sequence the Grey Album differently from the Black Album?

DM: Just the feel of the songs, I was going to try to stick strictly to the original track listing but I decided against it because this thing itself is not supposed to be compared really with the Black Album. I didn’t make it to be compared to the Black Album; originally it was made to be its own little project, its own experiment. So once I decided that it wasn’t going to be exactly like the exact order then the order of the grey album really didn’t matter at all. I really like the order of the original; I just changed it up a little bit to fit the original feel of what I was trying to do.

AllHipHop.com: Did the success of the remix albums by 9th Wonder and Kev Brown influence you to bring this project out commercially?

DM: I admire 9th Wonder for actually getting that stuff out there. I had been doing a lot old mix CD’s and blending all kinds of stuff together and blending the whole hip-hop thing with the rock. So blending those concepts together is just always something that I’d always wanted to do but actually the putting it out kind of thing that was really cool that he did that. I put out about three other 12” of things I did where I was mixing like Suzanne Vega with 50 Cent, Nas and Portishead and stuff like that and I did the first one maybe 2 years ago. I was always down to put my own stuff out in that kind of way but doing a full album like that I feel like that was the only way I could’ve done what I was trying to do. One song here or there would never have worked it would’ve never had that impact. But I thing what he did has got to open those doors for people trying to do these kind of things.

AllHipHop.com: For 9th, God’s Stepson really helped his career, do you see this remix thing being a successful marketing tool for producers, like mix tapes have become for rappers.

DM: I think it always should’ve been like this. Just like how rappers ask for beats, it’s like why don’t you just rap over some hot shit, if you don’t sound good over that then you’re not going to sound good over anything. I hope it does I know that there’s probably gonna be a whole lot more remix albums for the Jay-Z thing. I didn’t use these as original beats this was definitely like a melding kind of thing I was not trying to do a remix album where I took my own beats and did them with Jay-Z, that wasn’t what I was trying to do even though I know that’s the way it’s going to be perceived. I was trying to meld two completely different records together and show what could be done from sampling with just having very limited resources.

AllHipHop.com: You were mentioned on everything from CNN to MTV, did you expect to get this much attention from the Grey Album?

DM: I hoped they would but, its almost kinda like when I did the Ghetto Pop Life record I expected way more underground people to feel that and to get hip to that record and its just taken a long time and so I kind of expected the same thing with this. If you’ve actually heard it then I thought I would be in good shape and when I started telling people the idea or I would get the reaction from telling them, people who don’t really react to shit reacted really strongly.

AllHipHop.com: Putting the biggest rock band and today’s biggest rapper together on an unofficial release may bring some negative attention too though.

DM: It’s illegal, I know that and it may get me in trouble but if I had thought about that I never would have made what turned out to be what I think is one of the best things I ever did.

AllHipHop.com: So what are you working on next?

DM: The main project is the new Prince Po record, from Organized Konfusion. I executive produced that record and I produced like 4 or 5 tracks on there and then Madlib did a couple tracks and J-Zone did a couple tracks on it. Me and Gemini are finishing up our second record. I have a new record coming out that I’m getting ready to start on with MF Doom and that’s about it. Me and Murs from Living Legends might be working on some stuff as well.

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