Poprok Friday: Is OJAYZIS Better Than The Gray Album?

It was only a matter of time until an Oasis vs Jay-Z mixtape would surface on the internet. Cookin’ Soul, a DJ trio from Spain (who have, according to their site/myspace, been featured on over 100 albums and mixtapes), have put together what some people are calling a Jay-Z mixtape that’s better than Danger Mouse’s The Gray Album. What’s the story morning glory? I first saw that claim in the comments of a hip hop blog before I had actually heard the entire tape, and was shocked and appalled by such hasty assertions!

“Wonderback,” a mash-up of Oasis’ mega mid-90’s hit, “Wonderwall,” and Jay-Z’s newest track from the upcoming Blueprint III, convinced me that it might be a possibility that this was at least as good as The Gray Album… but better? A further breakdown of the tracks, samples, and combination choices helped me get to the bottom of it.

The production on OJAYZIS, though admittingly finished in just one day, is better in many spots. The samples chosen by Cookin’ Soul seem more carefully thought out and less mangled than the White Album Beatles bits that Danger Mouse chose. “Ignorant Shirt,” Momma Look Me,” and “Quick Gangster” come off as original Jay-Z tracks rather than mash-ups. The combination in “Quick Gangster,” in particular, flows as if Jay laid down the vocals over that track. Oasis’ dark, moody guitars (which, truth be told, are easy to deal with as they are taken from an instrumental track off of Oasis’ 2002 album Heathen Chemistry) meet with Jay’s “American Gangster” vocals as if this was the title track on the #1 hit album. It makes me wish Oasis would take up making hip hop beats as a full-time gig.

A few tracks don’t work as well. While Danger Mouse was careful not to mess with Jay’s vocals, Cookin’ Soul noticeably sped up Jay’s “99 Problems” to match up with Oasis’ quick paced “Supersonic.” The drums on “Justify it Out” already sound like a hip hop beat, but Jay’s verses don’t line-up as well as on other tracks. However, “Superhova Hello” combines Oasis’ soft-rock hit with Jay-Z’s aggresive “Hello Brooklyn” verse, and it’s very effective (especially when that guitar lick comes in at the end under Jay’s line “we ain’t thugs for the sake of just bein’ thugs).

On The Gray Album, it seemed as if Danger Mouse had trouble finding instrumental portions to use as beats. On some of the tracks, DM even combined music from 2, or even 3 different Beatles songs. While “99 Problems” set to a Helter Skeltor is probably one of the best remixes/mash-ups of all time, it’s possible that Cookin’ Soul may have produced a better all around mixtape. The samples are barely chopped up at all, and the more modern production on the Oasis tracks compliments Jay-Z’s vocals a little bit better.

At first, I wanted to cyber-smack every person who dared to suggest that any Jay-Z mash-up could ever beat The Gray Album. But after a lot of intense subway listenings and some deep breaths, it’s very possible that I might have to definitely maybe agree.

My Poproks


~ by comehomenow on August 29, 2008.

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