I somehow found this wonderful interview of Jay Z by Terry Gross on NPR. Jay Z is an innovative entrepreneur and performer, but my favorite part of the interview were the two seperate annectdotes he retold which reflect what is to me a healthy relationship between borrowing artists:
GROSS: […] I’ve got to ask you how you feel about the “Grey Album” which is the mash up that Danger Mouse did of your “Black Album” and the Beatles’ “White Album” without any copyright permission. So, how do you feel about it, musically, and how do you feel about the fact that he did it?
JAY-Z: I think it was a really strong album. I mean, I champion any form of creativity and that was a genius idea to do it. And it sparked so many others like it. There are other ones that, you know, it’s really good. There are other ones that because of the blueprint that was set by him that I think are a little better, but you know, him being the first and having an idea. I thought it was genius.
GROSS: Did you feel ripped off by the fact that he used your music on it without paying for it or did you think it doesn’t matter it’s really good art.
JAY-Z: No I was actually honored that you know that someone took the time to mash those records up with Beatles records. I was honored to be on you know, quote, unquote, the same song with the Beatles.
DJ Dangermous’s Grey Album caused massive strum und drang when it first came out–it is fascinating to see at least one of the artists involved had some perspective. Here is a clip:
“[Jay Z, who parts of “A Hard Knock Life” from Annie in one of his songs] said something in the liner notes that it was gritty. He said it was gritty and he felt that that was the way black people felt in the ghetto. And the fact is, when we were working on “Annie,” it was the first song that I had written the music for. And I wanted that song to be gritty. I didn’t want it to be a fake. I wanted it to show these desperate times and these maltreated girls, et cetera, et cetera. So when he picked up on that I was very proud of myself for that reason alone.”–Mr. CHARLES STROUSE (Composer for Broadway, Opera, TV and Film):