POST-BASTARD POP “For us, I’m not really championing the future of the mash-up,” says Steve Reidell (left).
It's been seven years since Danger Mouse collapsed Jay-Z's The Black Album and the Beatles' "White Album" into the career-launching The Grey Album. It's not as if the idea of the mash-up had been devised by Danger — John Oswald was laying evangelical shouts over Zeppelin tracks in the mid '70s — but it was this record, seditiously distributed as copyright-shunning MP3s, that empowered the form in unforeseen ways. Rap songs might sample the germ of hooks; this took matters a step farther. The timing was critical too; Grey came out just after file sharing had wholly sunken in. Now, anyone with ambition and a little technology could attempt his or her own experiment. In Grey's wake, the mash-up has risen from the underground: Jay-Z collaborated with Linkin Park on the official Collision Course, Girl Talk's shows are frequent sellouts at sizable venues, and even Glee is familiar with the concept. The mash-up is now too legitimate to be characterized as "bastard pop."
The Hood Internet are part of a wave of mash-up-centric artists working in Danger's wake. Although their track-versus-track-versus-maybe-another-track approach is pretty straightforward and uninventive, the DJs' commitment to plumbing a single angle has kept their material lively. The first mash-up by Aaron Brink (a/k/a ABX) and Steve Reidell (a/k/a STV SLV) mixed Clipse and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, and that established the blueprint for the majority of their work: hip-hop spliced with indie rock/pop. The duo have been furiously prolific ever since, churning out MP3s by a wealth of bizarre dream teams: Wu-Tang and Javelin, Ludacris and She & Him, Three 6 Mafia and Death from Above 1979. Half the fun of these combos is visualizing the real-life results: Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, and the ensuing posse envelop a studio while Class Actress do their thing in one corner; Montell Jordan gets extra-chummy with Arcade Fire, hoping to stumble into another "This Is How We Do It"; Lil' Kim and MGMT indulge in top-shelf liquor; Beastie Boys prank Matt and Kim and vice versa.
"In terms of comparing ourselves to other mash-up artists, our approach isn't very singular," says Reidell on the phone from his home town of Chicago. "There's a lot of other things out on the internet that do pretty similar stuff to what we do. No one right now is doing anything terribly forward-moving with it. For us, I'm not really championing the future of the mash-up."
In discussing the Hood Internet's upcoming album of "completely new shit," Reidell is sparing with details, but he does mention its stylistic diversity and various collaborators, in effect forecasting that the group's ultra-activity in the mash-up scene might not last much longer.
"If the people that are doing this stuff [mash-ups] now can graduate from that — it doesn't mean that they have to stop doing it — they can try to apply what they've learned to working on original music." He's more interested in the notion of "reimagining" — musicians contributing fresh vocals or guitar portions to an older work, as in Dan Black's "Symphonies" — than in the straight mash-up. He also envisions today's mash-up artists becoming the producers shaping tomorrow's pop.
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