Music of the Titans: JAY-Z/LINKIN PARK -

04.05.2008
In the age of multitasking, the phenomenon known as "mash-ups" had to happen. For those who haven't been following, mash-ups are essentially remix albums in which an inventive deejay concentrates his efforts on just two CDs, mingling them into a single melding.

Probably the most famous mash-up has been the blend of rapper Jay-Z's "Black Album" with the Beatles' "White Album" - a stupendously improbable meeting that, at times, sounds like a match made in heaven.

MTV recently caught on to the trend and this month kicked off its own "Ultimate Mash-Ups" program. It started with a t%EAte-à-t%EAte between the metal band Linkin Park and the ubiquitous Jay.

With MTV in the picture, the phenom has clearly lost its outlaw status, not to mention its attendant legal problems. In fact, Jay and Linkin Park chose to mash their songs themselves, rather than be manipulated by a renegade producer working independently. First, they did so at a live show in L.A. in July. Then they rerecorded their work in the studio.

Now, they've put out the concert on a DVD and bundled it with a six-song CD version. If that's hardly pure, underground mash, the results are still a marvel.

Jay tracks like "Big Pimpin'" and "Jigga What" never sounded better than when whomped by Linkin Park's metal. Jay's inflections deepen and his beats intensify, while the band's rhythms send super-catchy Jay cuts like "Izzo" and "99 Problems" over the top.

Though most rap-rock amalgams offer little to either genre, this one makes the most of both. It's the best blending of the two forms since the last album from Rage Against the Machine.

Linkin Park's melodies and riffs play a crucial role in the collaboration, but they mainly serve to support Jay's hooks and flow. If that makes Linkin Park essentially Jay's backing band, that's as it should be, given the disparity in their talents.

Together, they've made a monster of a mash.

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