Remember the frenzy in the mixtape circuit and on the Internet when Jay-Z released an a cappella version of his 2003 "retirement" LP, The Black Album? A plethora of DJs, including Gnarls Barkley's Danger Mouse, had a field day taking Hov's beatless rhymes and pairing them with new original tracks or famous instrumentals by other artists.
Well, Jigga has done it again, this time with his latest release, American Gangster. The first big-name DJ to jump on it is Los Angeles' DJ Skee, who's made a name for himself in the underground by making mixtapes with the Game. Skee's new street album marries Jay's American Gangster with the biggest gangster movie of all time, "The Godfather." Yes, Skee and his producers have taken music from the film and reworked it as new soundscapes for Jay-Z's narrative lyrics. The American Godfather will be available online beginning Friday.
"It almost instantly clicked," Skee told MTV News about the idea for the mash-up. "I almost didn't want to do it because I didn't want to do something so cliché. I was like, 'Wait, I already had "The Godfather" musical score.' I listen to it because it has so many ill melodies and breakdowns and emotions. It's crazy the way it's put together. And I thought we could sample it like crazy. And I thought, still, should we do it? But everyone thought the idea was dope and I had nothing to lose, and it came out dope."
Skee had some help along the way. The DJ birthed the idea three weeks ago when Def Jam announced it would be releasing the a cappella tracks as an alternate LP, American Gangster Acappella, which dropped earlier this month. But he really only buckled down 10 days ago to get it done. Producers Warryn "Baby Dubb" Campbell (Dru Hill, Mos Def), THX, Ervin "EP" Pope, Rome and Tommy Gunnz manned the boards on several of the tracks, including one of the standouts, Hov's "Say Hello," which Campbell mixed with a popular waltz from "The Godfather." Skee's partner DJ Reflex also assisted in putting some of the tracks together.
"We're taking one good gangster movie and switching it with the greatest one of all time," Skee explained. "But the production is like an album. We went in real studios and did a bunch of joints, and it turned out crazy.
"I wanted to make it like a real movie," he added, referring to the project's YouTube trailer. "When you hear the intro, [there are] different skits in between, scenes from 'The Godfather' playing between the songs. I wanted to make it like a mixtape because I like mixing and DJing and doing some stuff. But this is so good, I did a couple transitions, but you can pop it in and you can play it all the way straight through. This isn't even like a mixtape. This is gonna be one of the best albums of the year."