On his Bandcamp page, user Psychosis’ description reads, “Psychosis is a video game programmer who accidentally found audio editing software and the world has been paying the price ever since,” and his slogan is, “Oops, looks like I accidently put one song over another song. Sorry about that.” That just about sums it up, because Psychosis creates mashups.
Mashups are tracks that blend two or more songs into a new composition. Since a lot of people are still against sampling in general, mashup music tends to get traditionalists riled up.
One example that has stuck in my mind is a comment somebody posted on an NPR piece on famous mashup artist Girl Talk:
“I am offended to the Nth degree by ‘artists’ who rely upon the genuine musical genius of their elders. Girl Talk seems to be Hustler magazine’s sex advice column ‘mashed up’ on top of wonderful music.”
This man is obviously not a reliable source, but his comment does bring up a point: Even years after sampling became popular, people still get upset by it. It has been commonplace in music for decades, but even today it isn’t uncommon to hear sampling being compared to art theft.
Sampling isn’t art theft, though: it’s theft art.
Psychosis caused a bit of a music geek frenzy earlier this year when he did a Girl Talk-esque rap remix of Neutral Milk Hotel’s “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea,” releasing it under the name Neutral Bling Hotel and calling it “In My G4 Over Da Sea.”
“In the Aeroplane Over the Sea” is a hipster classic that paved the way for much of the indie-folk music of today. For as influential as it has been, it tends to receive mixed responses from people. Some say it represents everything wrong with hipsterdom; others say it represents everything awesome about it.
Mixing the album with hip-hop, therefore, is bizarrely perfect. After all, hip-hop is one of the music styles with the most detractors. Some even say it is not real music.
So, here are two highly controversial things in music, Neutral Milk Hotel and hip-hop, and Psycosis is doing a mashup of them. It took guts to do this, but those guts paid off.
Plenty of indie fans were unsurprisingly upset when “In My G4 Over Da Sea” first hit the web a few months ago. The hipster mindset tends to be, “Nothing is sacred, except when it’s mine.” True, “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea” is a very good album, but even The Beatles’ “Help!” was sampled by Lil Wayne and it worked just fine.
When the opening track mixes “The King of Carrot Flowers, Pt. One” with M.O.P.’s “Ante Up,” it’s certainly odd. A song about innocence and sexual discovery (or whatever Jeff Mangum, Neutral Milk Hotel’s lead singer and songwriter, is singing about) may not seem to fit with a song that repeats the line, “Ante up, yap that fool, ante up, kidnap that fool.” But the amazing thing is that when the opening guitar strum from “The King of Carrot Flowers” is combined with the beat from “Ante Up,” it’s improved.
“In My G4 Over Da Sea” features both mashups that fit together lyrically and mashups that seem completely random. “The King of Carrot Flowers, Pts. Two and Three” is mixed with Kanye West’s “Jesus Walks,” and the combination seems to make Mangum’s “I love you Jesus Christ” opening as spiritual as he always wanted it to be.
Later, “Holland, 1945” (Neutral Milk Hotel’s most popular song) is mixed with Pitbull’s “I Know You Want Me.” Pitbull’s “One, two, three, four” and Mangum’s “Two, one, two, three, four” almost end up combating each other.
“Forgot About Ghost,” on the other hand, is a mix of “Ghost” and Dr. Dre’s “Forgot About Dre.” It is completely random lyrically, but musically it works more than any other track. Other random moments include “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea” combined with Jay-Z’s “My 1st Song,” “Oh Comely” with Cali Swag District’s “Teach Me How to Dougie” and “Untitled” with Dorrough’s “Ice Cream Paint Job.”
The most random moments still work in a musical sense, though. No matter how you feel about Neutral Milk Hotel, hip-hop, or mashups, it’s hard to deny that this album is creative and just as artistic as any traditional rock song. Unless Girl Talk releases a new album by December, “In My G4 Over Da Sea” will have no trouble remaining the best mashup album released this year.
Key Tracks: “Forgot About Ghost,” “King of Ante Up, Pt. 1,” “Miami, 1981” and “King of Jesus Walks, Pts. 2 and 3.”