The Grey Album is an album by Danger Mouse, released in 2004. It uses an a cappella version of rapper Jay-Z's The Black Album and couples it with instrumentals created from a multitude of unauthorized samples from The Beatles (more commonly known as The White Album). The Grey Album gained notoriety due to the response by EMI in attempting to halt its distribution.
The album, which Danger Mouse released in limited quantities to a few outlets, created a massive amount of controversy when EMI, copyright holder of The Beatles, ordered Danger Mouse and retailers carrying the album to cease distribution. The amount of attention The Grey Album received caused EMI to act. Danger Mouse never asked permission to use The Beatles' material, and intended to produce a limited production run of 3,000 copies. Jay-Z's material, on the other hand, was commercially released in a cappella form. Although the work was copyrighted, it was released for the implicit purpose of encouraging mashups and remixes.
The album quickly became extremely popular and well-distributed over the Internet because of the surrounding publicity. It also came to the attention of the critical establishment; it received a very positive write-up in the February 9, 2004 issue of The New Yorker and was named the best album of 2004 by Entertainment Weekly. The Village Voice's annual Pazz and Jop critics poll ranked the album 10th for 2004.Template:Ref
The Grey Album is one of many The Black Album remix albums spurred by Jay-Z's release of the a cappellas. Producers Kno (from the Cunninlynguists) and Kev Brown earlier had released their own color-themed remix albums, titled The White Al-bu-lum and The Brown Album respectively. Pete Rock did a remix of the album as well. The Internet distribution of The Grey Album spurred a series of DJs and amateur mashup artists to mix the a cappella version of The Black Album with a variety of other artists, including Weezer,Template:Ref Madvillain,Template:Ref Pavement,Template:Ref Prince,Template:Ref Metallica,Template:Ref and Wu-Tang Clan.Template:Ref
A reference to The Grey Album was made on the December 11, 2006, edition of The Colbert Report. During the show, host Stephen Colbert called for a mashup of The Beatles and Christmas songs to be named The White Christmas Album. He added, "Danger Mouse, I know you're watching."
The artwork for the album was created by Justin Hampton.
Danger Mouse commented at legth on the creation of the Grey Album in the 2007 Danish documentary "Good Copy Bad Copy, A documentary about the current state of copyright and culture".
"Grey Tuesday" was a day of coordinated electronic civil disobedience on February 24, 2004. Led by Downhill Battle, an activist group seeking to restructure the music industry, participating websites posted copies of Danger Mouse's The Grey Album for free download on its sites for 24 hours in protest of EMI's attempts to prevent any distribution of this unlicensed work. This protest was provoked by the opinion that the sampling is fair use and that a statutory license should be provided in the same manner as if a song had been covered.
Supporters of the day say that it signals a refusal by a vocal section of Internet society to let major label lawyers control musical creativity and specifically sampling. Sampling in hip hop music had been commonplace since the late 1980s; landmarks include Prince Paul's production on De La Soul's 1989 debut 3 Feet High and Rising and the Dust Brothers' production on the Beastie Boys' 1989 album Paul's Boutique, both of which used samples from sources as diverse as Johnny Cash, Bob Marley and The Beatles—the creators of the unlicensed music sampled on The Grey Album.
Hundreds of websites participated and roughly 170 hosted the album for download. Over 100,000 copies were downloaded on that day alone (more than 1 million individual tracks).
The legal repercussions of the protest were minimal; a number of the participants received cease and desist letters from EMI, but no charges were filed in connection with the event.
The Grey VideoEdit
The Grey Video is a music video made in the autumn of 2004 by directing team Ramon & Pedro, that is Swiss directors Laurent Fauchere and Antoine Tinguely (compare  and ), to promote the single "Encore" from The Grey Album.
The video, which is entirely in black and white, features clips from The Beatles' film A Hard Day's Night, and footage from a Jay-Z performance. It uses new footage and computer generated imagery to create scenes that involve John Lennon breakdancing and Ringo Starr scratching. It begins with The Beatles performing before cameras and a live audience. Ringo Starr begins to drum to the 1:00 to 1:08 segment of "Glass Onion". John Lennon begins to sing while George Harrison and Paul McCartney nod their heads to the beat. After a few moments, the monitors in the director's booth begin to flicker, showing scenes of Jay-Z rapping "Encore", and the lyrics of the chorus begin to show behind the group. Starr's drum kit becomes a set of turntables and mixer and he begins to scratch while John continues to sing "Oh yeah!" as sampled from "Glass Onion".
As "Encore" moves into the second verse, the beat changes to a sample of "Savoy Truffle". A John Lennon body double starts to breakdance, leading to a headspin. McCartney and Harrison are replaced by two dancers. The Lennon double backflips off the screen, flinging his wig off. The drummer walks off and the lights fade to black.
The video is not available commercially, but has become popular over the Internet. Due to the legal issues surrounding the use of copyrighted material, the video is shown with the disclaimer that it was made for non-commercial and experimental purposes only. The new footage was shot on digital video and is at a significantly lower resolution than the original footage of The Beatles.
- "Public Service Announcement" – 2:45
- Samples "Long, Long, Long"
- "What More Can I Say" – 4:25
- "Encore" – 2:40
- "December 4th" – 3:34
- Samples "Mother Nature's Son"
- "99 Problems" – 4:06
- Samples "Helter Skelter"
- "Dirt Off Your Shoulder" – 3:59
- Samples "Julia"
- "Moment of Clarity" – 4:00
- Samples "Happiness Is a Warm Gun"
- "Change Clothes" – 4:04
- "Allure" – 4:06
- Samples "Dear Prudence"
- "Justify My Thug" – 4:12
- Samples "Rocky Raccoon"
- "Lucifer 9 (Interlude)" – 2:01
- "My 1st Song" – 4:44
- Template:Note The Village Voices Winners
- Template:Note Mike's The Black and Blue Album
- Template:Note Biz's Blackvillainy
- Template:Note K12 of 12-N-Dirty Productions The Purple Album Template:Citation broken
- Template:Note Cheap Cologne's Double Black Album Template:Citation broken
- Template:Note DJ CooL Guy Presents: Jay-Z in The Black Chamber
- Template:Note DJ Zap's The Blackprint Template:Citation broken
- Danger Mouse's official homepage
- The Grey Album on Discogs
- Grey Tuesday
- The Jay-Z Construction Set
- Grey Album Producer Danger Mouse Explains How He Did It
- Downhill Battle, the group that organized Grey Tuesday
- Cease and desist letter from EMI #1
- 'Grey Tuesday, online cultural activism and the mash–up of music and politics' by Sam Howard-Spink, First Monday, volume 9, number 10 (October 2004)
- The Boston Globe Grey Album Review
- The Grey Video on YouTubeda:Grey Tuesday