Danger Mouse & Jemini | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Danger Mouse & Jemini

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Only time will tell if the career of LA hip-hop producer Danger Mouse, aka Brian Burton, will outlast the buzz surrounding The Grey Album, his audacious mash-up of Jay-Z's Black Album and the Beatles' White Album. Burton didn't bother getting clearance for the Beatles samples, but neither did he make commercial use of them: he pressed 3,000 copies of his underground opus just to give them away to journalists, hip-hop aficionados, and friends. When EMI served him with a cease and desist order he became an instant cause celebre among anticopyright subversives. An activist group called Downhill Battle turned February 24 into "Grey Tuesday" by offering free downloads of the album from hundreds of Web sites, and more than a million downloaders took advantage. The music itself is intermittently brilliant, cleverly juxtaposing Jay-Z's rhymes from "Encore" with a break from "Savoy Truffle," the fierce verbal flow of "99 Problems" with the pile-driver bass line from "Helter Skelter," and the zigzagging patter of "Change Clothes" with a harpsichord loop from "Piggies." But just before he got famous Danger Mouse made a fine album with the deft, straightforward New York rapper Jemini (aka the Gifted One), which has now been repackaged with some bonus tracks. Driven by classic-sounding break beats, Ghetto Pop Life (Lex) takes sounds from all over the map and makes them work together: the intro of the title track uses an original choir arrangement, "Don't Do Drugs" rides a nifty swing riff, and Bollywood strings grace "That Brooklyn Shit." J-Zone opens. $12 in advance, $15 at the door; all ages. Friday, June 4, 8:30 PM, Logan Square Auditorium, 2539 N. Kedzie; 773-276-3600 or 800-594-8499.

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