Tag Archives: Mashups

Mos Def meets Marvin Gaye on new mash-up masterpiece

coverU.S. experimental hip-hop producer Amerigo Gazaway has finalized his incredible two disc Yasiin Gaye project, where he has paired Yasiin Bey, formerly known as Mos Def, with Marvin Gaye.

This project builds on deconstructed samples of Marvin Gaye’s Motown classics with additional samples and vocals provided by Yasiin Bey. Amerigo Gazaway has re-constructed the arrangements and instrumentation into new productions. It’s of the highest quality and sounds like an authentic collaboration between two musical maestros.

The Departure (Side 1) and The Return (Side 2) are inspired by Mos Def’s song Modern Marvel, a nine minute tribute to Marvin Gaye in which he raps over instrumental versions of Marvin Gaye’s Flyin’ High (in the Friendly Sky) and What’s Going On. During the second half of the song, Mos Def asks – “If Marvin was alive now, wow… What would I say to him? Where could I start? How could I explain to him? I know the modern world would probably look strange to him. Would he feel like today had a place for him?”.

This project is a response to Yasiin Bey’s tribute, and an attempt to answer the question he posed in Modern Marvel.

Both albums are available for free download over at Bandcamp, and they also include excellent track by track liner notes by Amerigo Gazaway. Stream The Return below and download that album here and The Departure here.

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“I just do what I think is cool”

He has put Jay-Z together with Radiohead and made Mos Def rap to heavy dub rhythms. Collaborations that sounds impossible. How he did it? Mash-ups of course. Reggaemani has talked to New York-based musician Max Tannone.

This spring, I stumbled upon the album Mos Dub, an album that sounds downright crazy when described. Rapper Mos Def mainly combined with dub rhythms by masterminds Henry “Junjo” Lawes and Scientist? But I was completely blown away. This was undoubtedly a brilliant mash-up album.

The man behind Mos Dub is Max Tannone, a musician from New York. He’s probably best known for mashing up Jay-Z, Radiohead and the Beastie Boys, but aside from mash-ups also works on regular productions.

− I’ve made beats for a long time, and making mash-ups was just a side project. I wanted to try and combine making beats with mash-up techniques. That’s how I got started with Jaydiohead and afterward continued with my other projects, writes Max Tannone in an e-mail to Reggaemani.

On Mos Dub – his latest effort – Max used reggae rhythms and combined them with Mos Def vocals. He explains why.

− It’s just a great genre of music that sounds especially good with hip-hop. Hip-hop is so rhythmic, and therefore reliant on the downbeat. That reggae’s upbeat style gives it a new twist.

The whole greater than the parts
Max writes that a great mash-up is a song that’s able to stand on its own.

− A great mash-up sounds natural, and can be considered without having to reference its disparate parts. I guess in other words, the whole should be greater than the sum of its parts, or at least attempt to be.

Making mash-ups is not something that’s done overnight. You have to find the right moods, tempos and, probably most important, make the a cappella in tune with the music. Max writes that he doesn’t have a set process for selecting the tunes that he later combines.

− If the tempos of the two songs are relatively close, it’s easier, but sometimes that doesn’t even matter. I begin with a concept. With Jaydiohead, the concept was obviously Jay-Z mixed with Radiohead. If the Jay-Z vocals were dark or introspective, I tried to select music to compliment that, and then go from there.

No set boundaries
According to Max there are no set boundaries for mash-ups. He usually starts with a concept but recommends trying whatever sounds good.

Mos Dub, for example, limited me to Mos Def vocals and dub music. Granted, dub music is a pretty huge boundary, even more so considering that I used a few tunes that are more ska and roots than strictly dub, but it still reigns in my choices. From here I just go by feeling, he writes and concludes:

− Listeners are the final judges on whether something is good or not. I just do what I think is cool.
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This is the second part of Reggaemani’s series on mashups. Next up is an interview with London-based dj and producer Al Fingers.

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Bost & Bim thirst for a cappellas

Bost & Bim is a French production duo that makes mashups based on self-produced rhythms. They’ve produced a series of mashup mixtapes under the name Yankees A Yard, and in June they released the third edition.

Matthieu Bost, one half of the duo, writes in an e-mail to Reggaemani that the most important thing is that the songs used for the mashup are in tune.

− It may seem obvious, but it’s not always the case. Also important is that the new tune changes the mood of the song. The more the better. We prefer to hear Eminem on Benny Hill music rather than on another hip-hop instrumental. Or a minor tune turned into a major.

Matthieu thinks that reggae is particularly good for mashing with other genres because it often changes the perception of the song. It makes you hear it in a new and different way.

Can’t see the woods for all the trees
The Bost & Bim mashups have made reggae fans interested in singers from other genres. He brings up a familiar example.

− For example, a lot of reggae fans have asked us “who is Usher? This singer is wicked!”. They’ve surely heard him a lot, but never realized that his songs are good because of the music, writes Matthieu.

He also writes that a lot of people have told the duo that they don’t like reggae, but like their mixtapes.

What a mashup producer needs
The main ingredients on the three volumes of Yankees A Yard are reggae rhythms combined with hip-hop and RnB voice tracks. However, the duo has also tried their hand on artists such as Daft Punk, Femi Kuti and The Beatles. Matthieu explains why they’ve chosen these genres.

− First of all because we like the music, especially hip-hop. Secondly, because in hip-hop and RnB it’s tradition to put the vocals on vinyl and, nowadays, also in the mp3 package. This is not the case in other genres. For the same reasons, we are very glad when we find a cappellas from other genres.

And if there’s something that a mashup producer needs, one thing is clearly more important than others.

− A cappellas!!!!

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This is the first part of Reggaemani’s series on mashups. Next up is an interview with NYC-based dj and producer Max Tannone.

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Interview series on mashups

There has been several massive mashups lately. Therefore Reggaemani will start a interview series on this phenomenon.

Starting the series is French duo Bost & Bim aka The Bombist crew, who are responsible for the Yankees A Yard series.

Then we move over the Atlantic and focus on Max Tannone, dj and producer of several great mashups. He recently released the huge album Mos Dub.

The series ends with Al Fingers – a musician, producer and dj from London. He has done some really interesting mashups, for example Cher over the classic Declaration of Rights riddim.

Stay tuned.

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Reggaemani Goes English

So, you might have noticed that the last two articles have not been in Swedish…

I started Reggaemani in March 2009 and 15 months later, I can look back on more than 200 columns, interviews, reviews and general news stories.

During these months, and especially recently, I have received comments that Reggaemani should be in English. I replied that of course it is a good idea, but that it requires a great deal if you do not have English as your native language or consider yourself to be significantly good at English.

But after some random thoughts, I believe that more content in English would be useful. Reggaemani has since the inception been dedicated to international artists, producers and record companies, so as to write in English would be quite natural.

Having said that, much of the material on Reggaemani will from now on be in English. I’ll see how long it’ll last, but hopefully for some time.

I do not have any idea of how good my English is, but I hope I at least will make myself understood. So please have patience with me if I use the wrong words or if my sentence patterns are weird. This is not blog about languange, it’s a blog to spread the music I love to as many people as possible.

The journey ahead will be exciting. Coming up is an interview with NiyoRah, a review of his album and an article on mashups, where I talked with Max Tannone and Al Fingers. But of course there are much, much more. Stay tuned!

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