Back in 1993, Biz Markie released the sample-safe, but terribly bland album “All Samples Cleared” in reaction to being sued for using an unauthorized sample on his 1991 album “I Need a Haircut”. The lawsuit served as a major speed bump in Biz Markie’s career and although he eventually experienced a smaller second wave of success, I often wonder how many other top ten hits Biz would have produced had he free reign to sample the musical spectrum.
The story of DJ Danger Mouse’s “The Grey Album” starts off with a similar premise, but ends on a happier note (at least from the viewpoint of the artist producing the remixed track). DJ Danger Mouse used/infringed upon copyrighted material from Jay-Z’s “The Black Album” and the Beatles’ “White Album” and created a remix dubbed “The Grey Album”. What a clever idea, i thought when i first heard about it. Those holding the rights of the high profile “White Album” weren’t as enthusiastic and filed suit against Danger Mouse. (I’m not sure how Jay-Z, who’s made a career out of borrowing others’ songs, felt about this whole thing.)
So how is Mouse’s case different from Biz’s you ask?