When Danger Mouse released The Grey Album, a mash-up of The Beatles self-titled 1968 album, also known as The White Album, with Jay-Z’s 2003 album The Black Album, the Beatles’ record label, EMI, put a stop to its distribution because none of the samples of the Fab Four’s work had been cleared. It turns out that EMI was the only one that had a problem with the wildly popular project.
“I didn’t mind… The Grey Album,” The Beatles’ Paul McCartney says in an upcoming BBC Radio 1 documentary. “But the thing was the record company minded. They didn’t like that and they put up a bit of a fuss. But it was like, take it easy guys, it’s a tribute.”
McCartney says he feels that sampling The Beatles in hip-hop and dance music is only fair, since the band admittedly borrowed heavily from their influences. “It was really cool when hip-hop started, you would hear references in lyrics, you always felt honoured,” McCartney says. “It’s exactly what we did in the beginning – introducing black soul music to a mass white audience. It’s come full circle, it’s well cool. When you hear a riff similar to your own, your first feeling is ‘rip-off’. After you’ve got over it you think, look at that, someone’s noticed that riff.”
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