When Danger Mouse released “The Grey Album,” his notorious—and quite illegal—mashup of Beatles tunes and Jay-Z’s a cappella wordplay in 2004, EMI Records immediately issued a cease and desist order. The album became a cause célèbre, with “information wants to be free” types providing download links and seeding torrent files all over the Internet. Take that, EMI!
Cut to 2010 and the mashups genre has a pretty well-established presence on the Web and, well… yawn. Who cares, right? Most mashups are clunky ear-bleeders, better read about than listened to, the main joke being, “Hey, I remixed Patsy Cline with Black Sabbath” or whatever. Amusing? Kinda of, in a very last decade sort of way, but do you actually want to listen to it?
So we were surprised when a 28-year-old Englishman named Tom Caruana decided to take some Wu-Tang Clan raps and painstakingly construct a new mashup using Beatles samples on “Enter the Magical Mystery Chambers.” And what’s even more surprising than his flagrant flaunting of EMI’s copyrights is that the mashups are really good! If Wu-Tang’s resident geniuses ever decided to delve into the Beatles catalog instead of soul obscurities for inspiration, this is the album they might have come up with. While most mashups sound like Frankenstein monsters created in Pro Tools, this one sounds less like a mashup and more like an actual Wu-Tang Clan record that uses Beatles samples. You can hear the Beatles, clearly, in the mixes (as well as Beatles songs covered by orchestras and “easy listening” combos) but it’s more covert than overt in this case.
As La Stampa, the Italian newspaper has wryly reported, Caruana’s elaborate Wu-Tang/Beatles mashup has been downloaded three times faster than Ringo Starr’s new record has on iTunes. Wu-Tang Clan’s Raekwon has even mentioned the project with approval on his Twitter account.