Early 2004 was a more innocent time in 'Murica. The Iraq war had just
begun; we all naively thought it couldn't possibly get any worse than
GWB. Mainstream Internet usage had yet to hit a full decade; YouTube
didn't yet exist; social media, for all intents and purposes, barely
existed, and certainly hadn't been algorithmically honed to a
weapons-grade point against us 99.9-percenter plebes. Jay-Z had said he
was retiring from music with the release of The Black Album, and
somehow we believed him. Public Bittorrent was enjoying its golden age.
Some guy named Danger Mouse got a hold of the Black Album a
capellas on Bittorrent and mixed it with the Beatles' so-called White
Album to create The Grey Album, which was actually pretty
interesting, and propelled him to much more lucrative production
But then, the ugly side: the next thing you knew, in an early Bittorrent-driven version of clickbaiting, random white people everywhere were enjoying making entry-hobbyist-level digital juxtapositions of The Black Album with something else famous with a color-related name or identifier made by other white people (Metallica's so-called Black Album, Weezer's so-called Blue Album, etc.). Most of these things were truly just bad and basically unlistenable, but still got lots of downloads and Internet attention because white people.
In the spirit of self-aware intra-cultural commentary ("hey guys y'know this is all a pretty bad idea"), I made a couple of quick beats out of of songs from Pavement's Slanted and Enchanted-- the ownership of which on CD is perhaps the ultimate cultural marker of obliviously privileged 90s whiteness-- and laid those beats under Black Album vocal tracks as a joke, purely intending to make fun of how out-of-control the white-amateur Black Album mashup craze had become. This strategy for biting social parody seemed to have predictably backfired when these tracks racked up tens of thousands of downloads and the extraordinarily-white Pitchfork Media started emailing for interviews.
Now working under the unbelievably stupid one-off monicker dj n-wee ("ennui"; I totally knew how awful it was at the time too), I then proceeded to quickly complete a full-length project continuing the Jay-Z rhymes + Pavement-based beats formula, matching each respective track on the 14-song Slanted and Enchanted with the vocals from the same ordinal track on the 14-song Black Album. While full of its share of what the kids used to call "bugouts" (there were definitely finite limits to semi-trad hip-hop beat-making out of Pavement samples), there are also some tracks here that work decently, especially on side two.
Not really a "mashup" in the normally-accepted sense so much as a beat-making experiment trying to find out whether it is in fact possible to make bangers from just about anything (and the answer is "ehhhh sometimes"), The Slack Album is still probably my most widely-heard work by several orders of magnitude. It could be worse, though; Squid Int'l could have somehow topped the charts.
(For cut-by-cut sample notes, click here, though this little inventory was written a long time ago on a random night when I was in a really grouchy mood and it's admittedly pretty annoying in tone.)