Saturday, March 12, 2011

Girl Talk - The Big Beat of Mashup DJs

I spent yesterday downloading the rest of the Girl Talk albums. (Incidentally, the illegal art store may be the single worst designed commercial website I've come across - it took some serious dedication to find where the hell the list of Girl Talk albums was)

It cemented something I've thought for a while - Girl Talk is like the Big Beat of Mashup DJs.

Big Beat is a style of techno made famous by groups like The Chemical Brothers, Fatboy Slim and The Prodigy. One of the ways in which it differed from earlier genres is that it featured way more samples - different drum beats, lots of random vocal and clicking samples that add a lot to the richness of the sound. You don't necessarily appreciate each one, but you notice the overall effect.

Back to mashup DJs - the typical mashup (some great examples here at the Bootie Blog) mixes two or maybe three songs. They tend to have naming conventions that reflect this. e.g.

Most of the effort and talent is finding songs that share a similar lyrical idea:

e.g. 'Paper Rump' by DJ Tripp, which mashes up Wrexx-n-effect 's "All I wanna do is stick my zoom zoom zoom in your boom boom' sample with MIA's 'All I wanna do is [bang] [bang] [bang] [bang] and [click] and [ching] and take your money' sample.

and/or musical styles that work well together, despite you not realising it:

e.g. 'House of Klezmer' by Faroff, which mashes up House of Pain's 'Jump Around' with this crazy pipe music I'd never heard of, but is awesome.

Girl Talk is very different. Every one of his songs uses tons of different samples. Because there's so many damn samples, he has to abandon the standard mashup naming conventions, and go with song titles that often reflect a single sample (e.g. 'Oh No', 'Let It Out' etc.)

Some people put together great graphical representations to show just how many samples Girl Talk uses:

-Here for the youtube version

-Here for the graphic summary

To see what I mean, click here and watch the clip for the first song, 'Oh No'. Count the number of songs that either appear for 10 seconds or less, or feature only a drum beat:

Used for drum beats only

'2-pac featuring KC and Jo-Jo - How do you want it'

'NWA - Express Yourself'

'Eminem featuring Dr Dre and 50 Cent - Crack a Bottle'

'J-Kwon - Tipsy '09'

'Slick Rich and Doug E. Fresh - La Di Da Di'

'Jay-Z and Alicia Keys - Empire State of Mind'

Used for less than 10 seconds

'Jay-Z - 99 problems'

'Jay-Z featuring MIA and Kanye West and Lil Wayne - Swagga Like Us'

'Trina featuring Killer Mike - Look Back at Me'

Bear in mind, these are the extra samples - they aren't even the main ones you hear! Most people probably wouldn't even be aware that any of these were actually in the song. But having that many extra drum beats and small shout-out samples gives a much more 'produced' sound that I think has been part of the huge success of All Day.

This must take an incredible amount of work. Hell, it took 5 minutes for me to listen to the song (and watch the video) and just write them all down! This guy thought of them all, and figured out how they'd add to the song.

Girl Talk, you are a cool dude.

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