Gregg Gillis, aka Girl Talk, Feeds the Animals

Girl Talk's new album

Girl Talk's fourth album Feed the Animals Illegal Art hide caption

itoggle caption Illegal Art

It's an assisted listen to the new album from mash-up artist Greg Gillis, aka Girl Talk. This one, Gillis's fourth, is called "Feed the Animals." Fluxblog.org's Matthew Perpetua is our guide.

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MIKE PESCA, host:

In 2006, the music producer Gregg Gillis, better known to the world as Girl Talk, released an album that answered a question all of us have asked at one point or another. What would happen if you mashed up Eminem, and Oasis, and Chicago, and Little Wayne, and Manfred Mann, and the Pixies, and Doctor Drey, and Weezer, and Aerosmith, and Mariah Carey, and En Vogue, and Sophie B. Hawkins and James Brown, and Nine Inch Nails, and Two Life Crew, and The Breeders, and LCD Soundsystem, and the Black Eyed Peas, and Britney Spears, and Marky Mark & The Funky Bunch, and Daft Punk, among 150 others.

The record, titled "Night Ripper," didn't in fact make the Internet explode, though you may be forgiven for thinking it did. It took the Indie world by storm, and turned Gillis, who worked as a biomedical engineer between gigs, performing his ADD anthems - it made him into a star. Pitchfork called "Night Ripper" a voracious music fan's dream.

Our guest in the studio today called it a scale prototype of a future pop utopia. Matthew Perpetua blogs at Fluxblog, and he's here to talk about the brand new record from Girl Talk, which was released on the Internet last week. Hello Matthew.

Mr. MATTHEW PERPETUA (Blogger, Fluxblog): Hey. How are you doing?

PESCA: The new record is "Feed the Animals," and after the success of "Night Ripper," everyone was looking forward to, you know, even expand what Girl Talk's been doing. What can he do to raise the bar, except, you know, more songs that we know on every three minute track?

Mr. PERPETUA: I think that's pretty much what he did. He just kind of went even more obvious than the previous record, which I think - you know, now, like - at first, that record just seemed like, OK, here's every hit you ever knew, you ever know, that you're going to get really excited. And this one is, like, to the next level of that.

But I'm not sure if it's necessarily like the best thing he could have done, because I think, like, one of the problems with the record - I mean it's actually maybe not the problem, this might actually be the selling point of the record…

PESCA: Mm-hm.

Mr. PERPETUA: Is that's it's like a really, really cool ADD version of a wedding DJ.

PESCA: All right. Well instead of talking about it, let's hear a little of the Girl Talk style.

(Soundbite of Girl Talk song)

BLACKSTREET: (Singing) East side to the west side Pushing phat rides, it's no surprise She got tricks in the stash Stacking up the cash Fast when it comes to the gas By no means average As long as she's got to have it Baby, you're a perfect ten, I wanna get in Can I get down, so I can win

I like the way you work it No diggity, I got to bag it up, bag it up

I like the way you work it No diggity, I got to bag it up, bag it up

I like the way you work it No diggity, I got to bag it up, bag it up

I'm going into to Nazareth...

PESCA: All right, all right, all right, all right. You want to ID some of what we heard there, Matthew?

Mr. PERPETUA: Oh, God. Well, we heard "No Diggity," that's Drew Hill, right?

PESCA: That was Blackstreet.

Mr. PERPETUA: Blackstreet - oh, I got to get - there you go.

PESCA: There you go. We heard a little Kanye West, we heard - and it was over some Radiohead.

Mr. PERPETUA: Was that The Wait(ph) at the end?

PESCA: That was actually the band sped up. And is that pretty indicative of what we're going to hear?

Mr. PERPETUA: Yeah, I think that's actually like a fairly mellow part of that record. Like most of it is a lot more - just like bam! That's kind of hitting you as hard as it possibly can.

PESCA: A lot of times with mashups, what the DJ's getting off on, is the obscurity of some of the songs, not this guy. Not Girl Talk. It doesn't seem like he's trying to trick you.

Mr. PERPETUA: No, no, he's trying to get you as excited as possible.

PESCA: Over extended periods, every song, even the songs that we might not think will work, will have two or three moments of yeah, hey, and yeah, that's good. But explain how - what makes it work over an extended period? What makes it work over, you know, a whole song, rather than just a moment here or there?

Mr. PERPETUA: Well, I think the best stuff he does, is - he's kind of taking all these elements and kind of crafting them into a song that is, you know, it's a song in it's own right, that just happens to be made up of these parts that we may know.

But there is definitely like songs on this one, and certainly on "Night Ripper," because for example on "Night Ripper" there is really a great part where he's kind of made this whole other thing out of like Nirvana's Scentless Apprentice, and gosh, I can't remember the rap song that's in there, but also - but then it kind of mutates into this thing with Tiny Dancer of Elton John, and it's like, wow, you've made this perfect song out of all these things that - or this kind of out there, that's just kind of part of the collective unconscious basically.

Because you just - it's just out in the world and this is - it's everybody's brain.

(Soundbite of Girl Talk song)

NOTORIOUS B.I.G.: (rapping) It was all a dream I used to read Word Up magazine Salt'n'Pepa and Heavy D up in the limousine Hangin' pictures on my wall Every Saturday Rap Attack, Mr. Magic, Marley Marl I let my tape rock 'til my tape popped Smokin' weed and bamboo, sippin' on private stock Way back, when I had the red and black lumberjack With the hat to match Remember Rappin' Duke, duh-ha, duh-ha You never thought that hip hop would take it this far Now I'm in the limelight 'cause I rhyme tight Time to get paid, blow up like the World Trade

Sir ELTON JOHN: (Singing) Hold me closer tiny dancer Count the headlights on the highway

PESCA: Once you you get this good idea of how to match a - maybe a hip-hop track with a classic rock track, and then throw something else in it as a backing track? Is there anything else to the art? Is there subtleties I'm not getting?

Mr. PERPETUA: I think that's actually - that's pretty it.

PESCA: But it's not easy, is the point.

Mr. PERPETUA: Yeah, and I think that it's - actually this record's almost like a proof of how it's not easy, because there's like parts where I think it kind of lags, and it seems like someone came to him to say, ok, this song, this song, this song, put them together, and he's like, all right, I'll give it a shot.

PESCA: It sounds almost like a challenge.

Mr. PERPETUA: Yeah.

PESCA: Like you could go to a show, I mean, maybe he can't do this on the spot, but it seems like you could give him any four songs, and his challenge is, I'll put - I'll make one song out of all these four songs.

Mr. PERPETUA: Yeah, he will do his best to make it cohesive.

PESCA: So "Feed the Animals," this is his fourth album. The last one as we said, that - "Night Ripper," was just so big. Do you know what made "Night Ripper," his third album, not that much different, maybe better in your opinion, but why was that such a you know, huge success that had everyone talking?

Mr. PERPETUA: I'm not really sure. It's just - I think it was just timing.

PESCA: Mm-hmm.

Mr. PERPETUA: You know, it just kind of - that record came out at a point where people were just ready for it.

PESCA: In what way? They were ready for pop? They were ready for hip hop?

Mr. PERPETUA: They were ready for the pop stuff, they were ready for - I think at that point in time, making mashups was so normalized. Around 2002, when there a huge mashup craze and - actually I think, like that was actually - definitely the golden age of that.

Like people, like Ozzie Miso(ph) and the Freelance Hell Raiser, just a whole bunch of people doing really amazing work, a lot of mostly British people. And like, he kind of came after that, so he's - he managed to kind of side step being part of a larger trend. Not that it ever really went away, but…

PESCA: Now as far as people being ready for pop, is it just that for years the - to have cred, you had to have indie cred, you had to look down your nose at Journey, and there was just so much of that, the people were ready to stand out from the crowd, people were ready to say, you know what? I like Journey.

Mr. PERPETUA: Yeah, yeah.

PESCA: Is that it?

Mr. PERPETUA: Yeah, definitely. I think that a lot of it is just owning up to - I mean, he's like leaning hard on things that we consider guilty pleasures. And…

PESCA: That's a good insight, yeah. Like Sophie B. Hawkins. Like…

Mr. PERPETUA: Yeah, a lot of things like, hey, remember that from when you were in high school…

PESCA: Right.

Mr. PERPETUA: Or junior high, or god, I don't even know - I guess like Nirvana and things like that would be like - remember when you were seven years old, for a lot of the audience now, for a while. It makes me feel so old, I'm not even thirty.

(Soundbite of laughter)

PESCA: So, let's play some - let's go a little of the good and the bad. You want to play, I think you'd wanted to highlight a couple of things that you thought were good or bad. Let's start with the good.

(Soundbite of Girl Talk song)

Body moving, body moving...

My eyes is sore, bein a senator Behind closed doors hittin truth to the seafloor The rich go North ignore, the tug of war While the kids are poor, open new and better drug stores So I became hardcore, couldn't take it no more I'ma reveal everything, change the law I find myself, walkin the streets Tryin to find what´s really goin on in the streets

Ghetto superstar.

PESCA: Alright, you want to try to ID some of what we heard there?

Mr. PERPETUA: Well, we heard a bit of Beastie Boys, "Body Moving"

PESCA: Right.

Mr. PERPETUA: We just heard a - basically a mashup of "Ghetto Superstar," bit of Old Dirty Bastard, and Pras, and Maya, and Yo La Tengo's "Autumn Sweater." And I think…

PESCA: Yo La Tengo, that's a little obscure.

Mr. PERPETUA: Yes, and I think that's actually like a lot of why "Night Ripper" kind of went off, because he would use a lot of these Indie-rock people, who generally aren't used in these kinds of mashups.

And I think that was - you know, it's kind of like you know, bringing in like different levels of recognition for different people, so you can have, like you know, something kind of - that would be like a big indie hit…

PESCA: Mm-hm.

Mr. PERPETUA: From I think '98 or so, and kind of pushing it with like a huge pop/hip-hop hit, and then, you know, a classic rock hit and this kind of like different kinds of hits, and just making it kind of like this cohesive universe of songs that people know and love.

PESCA: Let's listen to something that you consider the bad, the not-so-good on this album.

(Soundbite of Girl Talk song)

(Rapping) (Unintelligible) Looking for a star like mine, you've been blinded... So open up your morning light And say a little prayer for I...

PESCA: All right.

Mr. PERPETUA: Yeah.

PESCA: What are we hearing here?

Mr. PERPETUA: Well, that was Paula Cole in there.

PESCA: Right.

Mr. PERPETUA: That's - I believe that - was that one that was the Dawson's Creek theme? But…

PESCA: You aged me out but…

Mr. PERPETUA: Yeah.

PESCA: We got confirmation on that yeah, yeah.

Mr. PERPETUA: Yeah, we heard a bit of Epic.

PESCA: Right, that's the Faith No More song

Mr. PERPETUA: Faith No More song.

PESCA: (Signing) You say you want it, but you ain't got it.

Mr. PERPETUA: Yeah, and I thought - I just felt like a lot of that was this kind of - it wasn't sloppy, but it was just not as graceful as other - actually right now on the background, we're hearing "Cream" by Woo Tang Clan.

(Soundbite of song "Cream" by the Woo Tang Clan.)

Mr. PERPETUA: Yeah, it's just - I don't think - it's kind of like where he just starts throwing things at the wall.

PESCA: Right.

Mr. PERPETUA: And the Paula Cole song especially is like, oh, here, you know.

PESCA: Yeah.

Mr. PERPETUA: Now I'm going to freak you out.

PESCA: I mean, I don't know - there are many times in this album where I would say, look, you're not really going to be able to do something great with "London Bridge" by Fergie, and he kind of does pull it off.

Mr. PERPETUA: Yeah.

PESCA: I mean, maybe the Paula Cole song is just so treacly and so bad, there's not much you could do with it.

Mr. PERPETUA: Yeah, I - well - I think, you know, he's going for - that's definitely like a recognition thing right there.

PESCA: Right.

Mr. PERPETUA: Oh, my god, I remember this!

PESCA: Right.

Mr. PERPETUA: And you know, kind of banking on the few girls going, ah, and then he quickly moves on, which you know is a neat trick, but I think that would probably work better in concert, than on a record.

PESCA: So, your critique to the things that don't work so well on the album, basically just execution. It's not that the idea was bad, or wrong, or off

Mr. PERPETUA: Yeah, yeah.

PESCA: Just matters of execution.

Mr. PERPETUA: Yeah.

PESCA: And you can't knock him out of the park every time.

Mr. PERPETUA: Oh yes, especially not when you're trying to hit like - I mean, the sheer number of samples on this record, is just so out of the park that, you know, you can't win them all.

PESCA: They - this brings me to my prepped, last question, is this legal?

Mr. PERPETUA: No. It's not legal in the least. I mean it's on a record label called Illegal Art.

PESCA: Ok, that would be an indication.

Mr. PERPETUA: Yeah, and he's caught it - he has it, so you can kind of like, name your price, and if you put in, you know, free, which you cant do, you know, just get it for free from him, like he has a few - a list of things, reasons, why he didn't.

PESCA: Yeah.

Mr. PERPETUA: And one of them is, I do not value art made out of samples. It's like, well, you know what? I do, but you know, this is like a million huge hits, and none of them are cleared.

PESCA: Right.

Mr. PERPETUA: And I'm not sure if it's like the best idea to support something, where it's just so blatantly illegal, and I think it's almost kind of like ,you know, back when in the late '80s, when you had like records like It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back by Public Enemy and Paul's Boutique by the Beastie Boys.

And you can't really make records like that, and commercially release them anymore, because they're so dense with samples, and the reason why is because I think a lot of lawyers and record labels at the time saw something like this coming, where it's just, you know, like a huge number…

PESCA: Sure it's like…

Mr. PERPETUA: Of popular songs that people - and it's completely selling itself on you knowing those songs…

PESCA: Right.

Mr. PERPETUA: That it sampling.

PESCA: The whole landscape is changing in terms of song rights.

Mr. PERPETUA: Yeah.

PESCA: All right, I think we'll go out on some more Girl Talk, from the new album "Feed the Animals." I want to thank you Matthew Perpetua who blogs at Fluxblog. He talked us through with an assisted listen of the new Girl Talk record, thanks very much man.

Mr. PERPETUA: You're welcome, thanks.

(Soundbite of Girl Talk song)

(Singing) My lover true(ph) went through. And we made it through the storm. I really want you to be alive. I really want to put you on.

I've been searching for someone to satisfy my every need. Won't you be my inspiration?

RACHEL MARTIN: Hey, that does it for this hour of the BPP, but we don't go away. We are always online at npr.org/bryantpark. I'm Rachel Martin.

PESCA: I happen to be Mike Pesca, and this is the Bryant Park Project from NPR News.

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