It’s been an ongoing and deserved week-long tribute a couple of the biggest voices of their generations: Kanye West and The Beatles. For Kanye, Monday marked the 10th anniversary of the release of his debut album, The College Dropout (of which we commemorated here). For The Beatles, CBS aired a special 50th anniversary tribute show that featured a bevy of performers including McCartney & Ringo Starr themselves (and Alicia Keys & John Legend here).
So naturally, this was the perfect week for What’s A Black Beatle to catch my eyes and ears. It did so through design first, in fact. Browse the gallery of promo art above for the image of Kanye in a red suit on the crosswalk. I saw that on my Facebook feed the other day (whattup T-Naz) and thought it was cold, did some googling about the origin of said image, and found that it was the cover art for this mashup project by Spanish production duo Tutankhamun Brothers. One listen and I was reeled in from the intro track — a mix of various Kanye vocals with one of my favorite Beatles songs “Eleanor Rigby”. In fact, the sound resonated so powerfully, I felt both the vocal melody of The Beatles with the progressive synths akin to Kanye’s newer productions.
The project, which can be streamed/downloaded below for yourself, boasts 11 tracks mainly mixing old Kanye verses from the CD/LR era with Beatles samples and melodies. I have been listening to it all the way through for a couple days now and I can’t put it down because how well-executed the mashup is. And it’s the artists themselves fused together who individually can create such vivid images with their music. I listen to this project and see a bright spectrum of colors, especially when the intensity of Kanye reigns vocally.
Outside of the intro (which features a couple of key interview snippets from West talking about The Beatles), I especially enjoyed the incorporation of “Jesus Walks”, “Hey Mama”, “Power” vs. “Helter Skelter” (such high energy), and “We Major” on the project’s conclusion mix with “Hey Jude”. The only one that felt too awkward was “Southside” with Common because the original production was so raw that it just didn’t hit the right chord on this mix. That’ not to say it’s skippable because I’m always excited for that “grey poupon” punchline no matter the canvas. With all that said, press play and see if you have the same visual experience when listening to two of the loudest, most influential voices of music history: Kanye West & The Beatles.