Minty Fresh Beats - Jaydiohead
To my knowledge Jay-Z and Radiohead have never performed on the same bill, let alone the same stage. Perhaps organisers should take note here; it could be a very, very good idea. Granted, the rap king of New York coupled with Oxfords favourite indie titans doesn’t immediately light many fires. Well not until you’ve actually sat down and listened to this album and appreciated how well the contrasting sounds complement each other. One interesting aspect is being able to listen to Jay-Z’s rapping without the big hip hop production that usually accompanies it. Never been a Jay-Z fan? This could well change your opinion and perspective.
Brainchild of New York producer/DJ Minty Fresh Beats, ‘Jaydiohead’ takes its lead from Danger Mouse’s notorious ‘Grey Album’; the subject of mass panic in the music industry and several cease and desist orders from EMI. Where as Danger Mouse focused entirely on sampling the Beatles ’White Album’ and laying vocal tracks from Jay-Z’s ’Black Album’, ‘Jaydiohead’ utilises various material in Radiohead and Jay-Z’s respective cannons. Radiohead fans will recognise well sampled hooks from the likes of ‘I Might Be Wrong’, ‘Karma Police’, Jigsaw Falling Into Place’ and ‘The National Anthem’ fitting seamlessly with Jay-Z’s brilliant delivery.
Album opener ‘Wrong Prayer’ sets the standard, which remains excellent throughout. Jay-Z’s vocals are crisp and full of clarity as they cannon along next to slide guitar refrains and key samples from ‘I Might Be Wrong’. Up next is the track that people are most likely to head straight for, ‘99 Anthems’. As such is the popularity of Jay-Z’s ‘99 Problems’ tackling it seems a bit fool hardy, if the original Rick Rubin mix isn’t its pinnacle then surely the AC/DC sampling version aired at Glastonbury is the peak? Maybe not, this version really is a fine piece of work and repeated listens indent it into your brain quickly. Familiar vocals are tightly underpinned by the distorted and growling bass line from ’The National Anthem’ with flecks of Thom Yorke’s vocal floating in and out.
‘Karma Police’ makes its appearance next alongside Jay-Z’s ‘No Hook’ from the ‘American Gangster’ album. I wasn’t overly keep on the album version, it lacked the punch and originality of a lot of Jay-Z tracks, this however is a different matter entirely. ‘No Karma’ features some of the best sampling on the album. ‘Karma Police’ has been expertly picked apart, rearranged and fused with the vocals to create something so impressive sounding that not being generally available does it a disservice. The campaign to hereby release this track into the charts starts here!
The album continues to bounce along at a stunning rate with Radiohead tracks ‘Jigsaw Falling Into Place’, ‘Optimist’ and ‘15 Step’ all making an appearance in various guises. Far from just stringing samples and beats together to support Jay’Z’s vocals, Minty Fresh Beats is obviously a master of his art as drums, keys and guitars are all meticulously used in creative and usual ways to build and elevate the tracks. If this man isn’t already producing for big projects and labels then this release should see his work roster bolstered ten fold for the rest of the year.
To say this album comes highly recommended is an understatement. I’ve purposely not listed each and every track and vocal that’s sampled on it as not to ruin it. If you are a Radiohead and a Jay-Z fan then this is quite literally a must; you will enjoy experiencing the two artists music side by side, breathing in harmony together. If you are only a fan of one or the other it is still worth picking up and experiencing a new angle on either artist. A worthy addition to any music collection and one that’s destined to be on my stereo for the foreseeable future. Oxford just got bling, who’d have thunk it?