Multiplatinum acts Jay-Z and Linkin Park are the latest to merge musical forces in a legally sanctioned mash-up. With the help of MTV, the two acts have taken the concept – which intertwines two songs, often placing the vocals of one track atop an instrumental section of another track – one step further.
Instead of simply doing a mash-up remix of one track, as other artists have done, Jay-Z and Linkin Park have created an entire CD/DVD project based on the mash-up concept. The result, “MTV Ultimate Mash-Ups Presents Jay-Z/Linkin Park: Collision Course,” arrived Nov. 30 from Warner Bros.
The set could very well debut at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 next week.
“It’s a possibility,” Warner Bros. Records chairman/CEO Tom Whalley says. “But I try not to project. The U2 album (“How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb”) could make it tough for us.”
According to Whalley, the label shipped between 750,000 and 1 million units in the first week of release. “It’s what we thought the marketplace could bear.”
THE MAKING OF A MASH-UP
“Mash-ups are best when they involve two songs that the listeners know,” says Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda, who produced the studio recordings for the CD portion of the two-disc set. “That’s what was so promising about this project: We got to take songs that a lot of people are familiar with and totally reconstruct them.”
Shinoda says they had to figure out when to use an original master recording and when to re-record something. “Tempo, key and style were all parts to a very elaborate balancing act.”
The centerpiece of the DVD component of “Collision Course” is the July 18 live performance of the mash-ups at the Roxy Theater in Los Angeles, which debuted Nov. 10 on MTV with the network’s new series, “MTV Ultimate Mash-Ups.”
The performance showcases artists who respect each other musically. To that end, they must make time to rehearse together.
“This is not the kind of performance that can be phoned in,” MTV executive VP of music and talent programing Tom Calderone says.
The mash-ups on “Collision Course” are “Dirt off Your Shoulder/Lying From You,” “Big Pimpin’/Papercut,” “Numb/Encore,” “Jigga What/Faint,” “Izzo/In the End” and “Points of Authority/99Problems/One Step Closer.”
Shinoda adds that it was cool to see his band’s “usually more serious” music in a “more lighthearted and fun” atmosphere.
Jay-Z, it should be noted, is no stranger to mash-ups. Earlier this year, DJ Reset’s mash-up “Frontin’ on Debra” combined Beck’s “Debra” and Pharrell Williams Featuring Jay-Z’s “Frontin’.” The artists and Interscope approved it.
And DJ/producer Danger Mouse’s unsanctioned “The Grey Album” – which featured vocals from Jay-Z’s “The Black Album” laid atop beats created using the Beatles’ “White Album” – pushed mash-ups into the mainstream in America.
EMI, which owns the Beatles’ catalog, sent Danger Mouse a cease-and-desist order in February, while Jay-Z’s Roc-a-Fella label did not take any action.