I like my culture like my potatoes: all mashed up

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mash-up-mix-tapeI like the ideals of the copy-paste culture that is the very substructure of the Internet: share and share alike.

Hilarious link? Copy, paste and broadcast it to any number of people you know or are merely acquainted with. Find an embarrassing email? A weird image? Share it with the world. Encourage others to copy and paste. That’s how memes develop.

Ah yes, I love the smell of Internet in the morning!

However sometimes people “abuse” copyright and don’t properly credit artists or seek artists’ permission to use their works — a fact caused in part by the extreme lag and lack of ductility inherent in the law. So it goes.

Thankfully, we’ve born witness to the rise of Creative Commons, and many artists, writers — and poorly labeled “content creators” — are rightly jumping onboard. However, this still makes accessing and using older works complicated, and the notion of mashing these older works up with new stuff is typically met with extreme skepticism, if not extreme litigation. Still, [sometimes] anonymous mash-up auteurs soldier on, for their love of music or film (or whatever they’ve managed to mash-up) — of new permutations and potentials for collaborations that never were.

My first exposure to mash-ups was a really good one — exemplary, in fact. It wound up being one of the more popular music mash-ups to date. It caused a stir in the copyrights and copyfights communities. It launched a DJ’s career at least somewhat. It’s even stood the test of time.

It was DJ Danger Mouse’s The Grey Album, a mash-up of Jay-Z’s The Black Album and the Beatles:


After The Grey Album, I was hooked. I managed to stumble upon mash-up master dj BC from Boston, who did an unbelievable mash-up of Dixieland Jazz with the Wu-Tang Clan called Wu Orleans. And once you hear Wu-Tang rappin’ along side to The Dirty Dozen Brass Band you’ll never look at ODB and crew the same again:


(Admittedly the version above isn’t synced correctly, but you get the scope of radness, I hope.)

Next, dj BC cranked out the second “Beastles” album he’d done, this one called Let It Beast. The Beatles were back, only this time they were benefitting from the outstanding lyricism of my favourites: the Beastie Boys:


Most recently, I’ve come across Jaydiohead and the Hood Internet. My friend Pauly’s even gotten into the mash-up scene and started a site called Paulcasts (and by the way, he’s definitely an unplucked gem. Share and share often). If Pauly’s any indication of the passion mash-up artists have for music, then only good can come from this. And though the frothing foaming mouths of hungry litigators seem, for the moment at least, less pervasive than they did even a few years ago, you can bet your ass the old-man-run record labels still haven’t figured out what to make of all of this.

What they’ve failed to make, also, is money — which they could be doing by the truckload, I suspect, if only they had the brains to collect the very best mash-up artists, pay them handsomely, and earn a tidy sum off their talents. Or, since the landscape of ownership has changed so much and the methods of production and distribution are cheap as free, at least find some way to encourage this and try and earn revenue off royalties — nothing exorbitant and extortionist like the Big Labels’ halcyon days of money-swimming à la Scrooge McDuck (himself a mash-up of Donald Duck and Mr. Lodge from the Archie Comics, I think) — but enough to feed the necessary mouths and turn a princely, if not kingly, profit.

Alas, after all the time since Napster, LimeWire, and Bit Torrent, no one’s figured it out. So people continue to hide and seek and steal. And download and share. And culture propogates across the virtual landscape, onto MP3 players, USB keys and maybe even the radio waves (at least the college ones) into the real landscape. And I think this is a good thing, this building upon of culture, this combination of ideas and sounds.

Besides, I’m dying to hear whose lyrics can be mashed up with the Beatles’ music next…

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9 Responses to “I like my culture like my potatoes: all mashed up”

  1. blu
    August 4, 2009 at 10:05 am #

    My favorite mashups lately have been coming from DJ Earworm.


  2. stormwarning
    August 4, 2009 at 2:33 pm #

    As blu mentioned, DJ Earworm has put out some great mash-ups. Girl Talk of course, comes up whenever mash-ups are discussed.

    I recently came across the Stars and Stripes project, a hip-hop mash-up of various White Stripes tunes: http://starsandstripesproject.com/

  3. stormwarning
    August 4, 2009 at 2:35 pm #

    Oh and how could I forget Amplive’s Rainydayz Remixes? A remixed version of Radiohead’s In Rainbows: http://www.onesevensevensix.com/amplive/

  4. Morgan Smith
    August 4, 2009 at 2:46 pm #

    Girl Talk is amazing, and shows up in a great documentary on mash-ups and creative commons called “Good Copy Bad Copy”. Do a search for it, and you’ll find it on YouTube or Google Video. Totally worth watching.

  5. bingofuel
    August 4, 2009 at 2:47 pm #

    These are great, guys. When I get home tonight, I’ll be downloading my glorious little heart away! <3

    Keep the mash-up suggestions coming!

  6. Mike Lawton
    August 4, 2009 at 4:08 pm #

    My favourite mashup kings are the Kleptones: http://www.kleptones.com

    Their awesome “A Night At The Hip-Hopera” album is a full disc length set of Queen mashups. Highly highly recommended!

  7. Rawnsley
    August 4, 2009 at 6:06 pm #

    In a similar(ly awesome) vein to Girl Talk, be sure to check out E-603. He’s got two albums out: the first is freely downloadable and the second is pay-what-you-want. Both are recommended.

  8. katiepeheakoe
    August 4, 2009 at 6:13 pm #

    Great post. You gave me a whole new genre to explore. Isn’t most new art subversive?