Gabe Gerzon Professor Stiefel The Walrus Meets the Wu-Tang: The Mysterious Magic of the Walrus and
the Wu-Tang “I took the Beatles and the Wu-Tang Clan…and I just made it one thing. And it worked!” ODB gushes in his signature growl over the opening bar lines of Tom Caruana’s Wu Tang Vs. The Beatles: Enter the Magical Mystery Chambers, a mash-up album in vein of Danger Mouse’s 2004 The Grey Album, an album that fuses the instrumentation of The Beatles’ White Album with the rhymes of Jay-Z’s The Black Album, that works seamlessly. Caruana makes it work here too–he has taken over 20 reworked, hip/hop friendly Beatles’ melodies and paired them with the ferocious, syncopated rhymes of the Wu-Tang Clan. Prepare to enter a madcap hip/hop collaboration. Stuffy Beatles aficionados need not apply. Caruana’s remixes don’t play like heretical remixes some purists (hip/hop and Beatle alike) might anticipate. He only lightly dabbles in the vast library of potent Beatle riffs and melodies and never directly samples original recordings. Instead, we’re presented with a collection vaguely Beatles-ish productions infused with contemporary hip/hop predilections, like thick, soulful electric guitar riffs. You may even have to hit repeat a few times before you figure out what the hell Beatles’ tune is being remixed this time, adding a level of interactivity to the album. I can’t help but wonder if some level of interactivity in the mixing room too could have remedied the occasions the album crosses into overindulgence an even sloppiness. The mixing is choppy at times, and Caruana has a penchant for clumsily plopping snippits from Beatles’ interviews in during bridges and breaks in the music. Thankfully
the content of these rare clips is so mesmerizing and revealing you tend to forgive how blatantly they interrupt the flow on a few songs (most notably “Forget Me Not”). He gets it right most of the time though–his best implementation of this tactic appears in the artfully remixed “You Never Give Me Your Money” layered with O.D.B.’s vocals on “Got your Money” from a solo project: Interviewer: Are you individually millionaires yet? John: No that’s another lousy (inaudible)…I wish we were. Interviewer: Well, where does all the money go? John: Well, a lot of it goes to her majesty.” John’s mirthful response is seamlessly swept away by a sorrowful orchestral section beautifully mimicking Paul’s melody on “You Never Give Me Your Money.” ODB’s vocals soon creep in, fitting in better than they ought to. Something special is at work when misogynistic lyrics like “bitches put out your ass ‘lemme hold it tight” can be taken lightly within the context of the song and don’t interfere with its emotional intelligence. The song is an exemplar of playful contrasts in style, with a cheeky, overarching theme keeping order. Wu Tang Vs. The Beatles is an ambitious mash-up album that will sit well with Generation Y-ers introduced to the Beatles collection early on and grew up as hip/hop’s relevancy and popularity exploded. For us (I’m one of them), this entry in the mash-up genre is a brilliant and natural move in the progression away from disconnected, static genres, and towards cherry picking the most meaningful and enduring aspects of popular music. Those who appreciate the genius of both the Beatles and the Wu-Tang will be giddy at this pairing of paragons in their respective genres. Overall, the album wonderfully defies what our generally genre-obsessed musical brains deem compatible. It’s not revolutionary, but for a sub-set of hip/hop heads, it’s a delightfully demented
match made in music heaven.
It was ridiculous…I just couldn’t help it, I just started going crazy and putting that Beatles to it…so it made it a different style you know, you made it uh, a hip hop style that was untouchable, singing rappin! And nobody was doin it. –ODB- skit