One of the most interesting stories of music in the 2000s was the return of the Wu-Tang Clan from punchlines to superstars, and perhaps a consistently underrated story of pop music is the persistent popularity (and hagiography) of The Beatles. It was probably only a matter of time before someone - in this case, an English DJ named Tom Caruana - mashed the two together, with Enter The Magical Mystery Chamber. The album can be streamed here and downloaded here.
The gold standard for most any mash-up, let alone a Beatles-based one, is Dangermouse's 2004 The Grey Album, which shot to prominence by combining Jay-Z's Black Album with The Beatles' White Album. Its strict form stands in decided contrast with Magical Mystery Chamber's wide-ranging grasping of raps from any Wu-Tang album and solo album, as well as any Beatles album, solo album, or even covers of Beatles songs by other artists!
The excess scope may be the album's biggest weakness. Half the time, the samples aren't easy to recognize, a problem that's only exacerbated by the success of the songs that keep it simple, like Old Dirty Bastard's "Got Your Money" cleverly juxtaposed with "You Never Give Me Your Money." The album's standout may be "Uh-Huh," which features Method Man rapping over "You Know My Name (Look Up the Number)." In those songs, The Beatles and Method Man both manage to convey the playful cockiness that defines much of their work, and the mash-up is infectious.
Still, despite that flaw, it speaks to the strength of the DJ that many of the songs that don't have the immediate "hey, that's clever!" sample are still entirely worth listening to. "Criminology" is one of those that use a cover song as a sample, yet it's still a blast to hear.
At 77 minutes, the album will fill a CD to the brim, and probably could have used a bit of trimming. The skits, of course, quickly grow tiresome, although that's probably something of an homage to the Wu-Tang's famously bloated albums and love of skits. But all these complaints are more nitpicking a good album that may presage greatness - if you've any interest in the source material, you'll probably find something to love about this download.
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