A Spanglish blog dedicated to the works, ruminations, and mongrel pyrotechnics of Yago S. Cura, an Argentine-American poet, translator, publisher & futbol cretin. Yago publishes Hinchas de Poesia, an online literary journal, & is the sole proprietor of Hinchas Press.

Friday, October 30, 2009


What is the difference between a mash-up and a hip-hop song? How far into hip-hop territory can mash-ups venture before the two are synonymous? I mean to the best of my knowledge, a mash-up (a.k.a. mashup) is a song in which disparate elements (country and reggae) are fused to create a new song. According to Tech Terms, the term mash up is "used to describe songs that meshed two different styles of music into one song. For example, a classic rock song put to a well-known hip-hop beat may be considered a mashup. It is also used to describe videos that have been compiled using different clips from multiple sources."

But that still doesn't answer our original question: to what degree is a mash-up and a hip-hop song really different? Haven't hip-hop artists been mashing up songs now since the late 70's. Is the main difference the fact that hip-hop cites from songs in what are traditionally "black" genres like R&B, Soul, and Funk. For example, I own Girl Talk's "Night Ripper" and love it. One of the stand out tracks for me is the mash-up of Elton Jon's "Tiny Dancer" (a.k.a. Tony Danza) and Biggie Smalls "Juicy". What has especially stuck in my head is the B.I.G. refrain, "i let my tape rock/till my tape popped". This song, along with many, many other, is pure, unadulterated musical mischief and about as catchy as a three-alarm flu.

Which brings me to the reason for this post. Panda and I saw this amazing documentary called RIP: a Remix Manifesto on the documentary channel and I had to say a couple of things about it. Directed by Brett Gaylor, the documentary explains the concept of copyright as it relates to music and culture, and champions the Philadelphia disc jockey, Girl Talk. Also know as Greg Gillis, Girl Talk is more than a d.j. in the conventional sense; in their own ways, Gillis and Gaylor are making the same movie, they are just doing it using different media.

The thing that really got me about RIP is the director's choice to put segments of the documentary on open source outlets and allow for viewers to edit, reconceptualize, and "mash up" Gaylor's original film footage. So in essence, the documentary is a mash up of informative, aesthetic, and historic strands, and that only adds credulity to Gaylor's enterprise. Even though Gaylor did this to escape prosecution from the copyright police, it works to his advantage because it is like putting your mouth where your money is. I higly recommend you see this documentary!!!

By the way the youtube page for all episodes of this documentary can be found here...

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