I've had a rough couple of months. My sister and her fiancee have been great throughout, but yesterday they really went above and beyond. I stopped by their place for a quick dip in their sweet pool, and on the table they had a gift for me: Girl Talk's new album Feed the Animals. I slid it into the CD player on my drive back to the District, and for the duration, the clouds parted. If you don't know Girl Talk, he's a Pittsburgh dj/artist named Gregg Gillis who nerds out by day and rocks crowds by night with the most insane collages of pop music ever.
To me, it's not fair to say he does mash-ups, or just remixes songs. He has an uncanny knack for taking a dozen incredibly familiar commercial radio hits (like, say, Ace of Base's "The Sign," or Soul II Soul's "Back to Life"), stripping them down to their most key elements, and building them back up with MCs pulled from elsewhere (Busta Rhymes, Missy Elliot). It's already genius, but then he drops in something relatively obscure but beloved, like Yo La Tengo's "Autumn Sweater." It's always danceable, but when it really succeeds is when that unexpected element hits, and you in your car shriek, or the packed crowd at the Otto Bar shrieks, in collective recognition. It's insane, it may be illegal, and it's absolutely addictive. Don't believe me? Listen here (but beware: you will hear bad words), and check out as-yet incomplete lists of the zillions of samples in each composition here. If you do give Girl Talk a listen, let me know what you think: Is the music, as Gillis contends, new compositions ("we stand by the fair use law; that we do recontextualize the source material into a new whole"), and thus legal? Or is this plain old theft of others' work? Either way... did you get that thrill when you heard a sample that seemed hand-picked for you?