All props to Ohad first for sending me link to this album.
I quite didn’t know what to expect. Never would’ve dreamed of Jay-Z and Radiohead mixing if not for this. The man who dreamed up Jaydiohead is the very talented Minty Fresh Beats. Anyone who’s a fan of either Radiohead or Jay-Z knows that once you’re a fan of an album or song, it takes a lot to be swayed by a variation of it. People try all the time. They fail.
He succeeded, and made this stand.
Before I shut up and let you just read the interview, I’ll add this: this album works for two kinds of listeners: 1) one who knows all the material well and is at awe at how he’s fused them together, or 2) one who has no idea who Jay-Z and Radiohead are (sure!) and is sucked into this beautiful ‘new’ music. In essence it is something new, out of something new. There is some amazing work in this album, folks!
Without further ado, here’s the interview.
G: What did you grow up listening to, reading, or watching? How much of that has influenced your later work?
MFB: As far as music, a range of different artists. Besides Jay-Z and Radiohead, some of my favorite artists include the Beastie Boys, A Tribe Called Quest, Kanye West, all sorts of reggae and dub, techno/electro/house as well…Mos Def, Boys Noize, and Bob Dylan. This list is really random. Its impossible to compile a full list, but these are a few off the top of my head. I grew up watching Seinfeld, and still watch the re-runs. Two of my favorite books are Lord of The Flies and 1984.
G: What was your first instrument? How did you practice? What came easy and what was hard?
MFB: I started out on the drums. I used to practice on my high school’s drum set, before I got a set of my own. Then I would just work on different drum patterns. The difficult part was learning the basic rock pattern, getting your limbs to move individually. Once I could do a standard rock beat, a lot of stuff was just derived from that.
G: Do you remember your first completed composition? How did that make you feel? Do you compose differently now than you used to?
MFB: Yeah I do. It was a techno song called “Nightmare Techno.” I was 12, and it was pretty much the coolest thing ever. I remember I used dialog samples from the movie “War Games.” I might have to sample that again…….haha. I guess it just gave me confidence that I could put a song together, but more than confidence it was just something I enjoyed – so I wanted to pursue it. As far as composition goes, my tools and methods are basically the same, just a lot sharper. My ear has developed. I’m my hardest critic. If it sounds good to me, then I think other people will vibe to it.
G: What inspired Jaydiohead? Did it come out of an aha moment, or had you been thinking about it for a while? How long have you worked on the album?
MFB: I did the Wrong Prayer remix roughly a year ago. I liked it, and wanted to turn it into a full-fledged album. So I had definitely been thinking about it for a while. When I came up with the name Jaydiohead, I laughed and got into it even more. The majority of work on Jaydiohead took place in November and December 2008.
G: What was the process behind remixing each song? How did you know what part of which song would fuse with the other? How much of it was calculated and how much was spontaneous?
MFB: Basically, I found all of the tempos of the Jay-Z acapellas and the Radiohead tracks. This helped me narrow down what songs I would potentially “mash-up.” Then from there I listened to the respective moods of the acapella and the Radiohead track, and mated them based on that. I had to chop up the Radiohead tracks into tiny slices (dozens per song) and then rebuild the track into a hip-hop beat, adding my own drums, synths, and other effects. This applies to all 10 tracks on the album. Some songs however, were not in 4/4 time, so those were a little trickier to rebuild.
In most cases, I seeked to change or intensify the feeling of the original Jay-Z track. For example, I wanted to replace the braggadocio with paranoia in Jay-Z’s song “99 Problems” – which became “99 Anthems”.
Every aspect of the project was calculated.
G: This is not the first time Jay-Z tracks have been re-mixed with rock albums. What do you think makes his songs so accessible to other styles? What would you like listeners to take away from listening to Jaydiohead?
MFB: One reason is because Jay-Z’s raps have so many double entendres and deeper meanings. Some casual rap listeners or Jay-Z bashers claim that his lyrics are all superficial, misogynistic, etc. Sure, there are songs that are made for the club and to party, but the large majority of his material is story telling. Just listen to any track from Reasonable Doubt or American Gangster – to me the songs are more like scenes of movies – the last rapper I felt this way with was Notorious B.I.G. on Life After Death.
Taking this story-telling out of its hip-hop context, and reshaping it with rock’s often brasher sound is just fascinating to listen to. On a technical note, Jay-Z’s voice fits nicely with the sound of electric guitars…perhaps another reason. Furthermore, he releases a lot of material in acapella format, making it easier for producers to make projects like these.
Taking something away from listening? I just want people to enjoy it. Its up to the individual what it means to them and what they take away from it.
G: What are you working on now? Who would you like to, or are looking forward to, working with in 2009?
MFB: I am in the planning stages of my next project, so stay tuned for that ( myspace.com/mintyfreshmusic ). If I could work with anyone in 2009 it would be some of the upcoming rappers I’m interested it, Kid Cudi, Wale, Blu, among others. Whoever I work with, I’d like to do something conceptual and left field for hip-hop. I always feel like the rock world has all the musical fun. Why not bring that to hip-hop?
* profile image from MySpace