Tag Archives: Mos Def

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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Mos Def inna Reggae Style

Mash-up galore! Max Tannone, producent och dj, har gjort en platta där han blandar tio låtar från hiphop-artisten Mos Def med lika många reggaerytmer. Resultatet är bländande bra.

Max Tannone har fått det hela att låta helt naturligt. Verkar nästan som att Mos Defs rap är som gjord för de här upphottade rytmerna. Ovanpå rappen och rytmerna har han också mixat in originalsången från ett antal reggaelåtar samt en massa effekter.

Merparten av rytmerna är välkända, exempelvis Johnny Too Bad med The Slickers och 007 (Shanty Town) med Desmond Dekker. Mer oväntade är Underground, hämtad från plattan Superape med The Upsetters, och Black Moon, från albumet Rebel Rock med Third World All Star. Bäst blir det i ösiga In My Math som bygger på Your Teeth In My Neck från Scientist/Michael Prophet.

Max Tannone måste verkligen ha gjort ett hästjobb med att sätta ihop Mos Dub. Det var länge sedan hiphop lät så här bra.

Plattan finns att ladda ner gratis här.

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