Kev Brown

The Brown Album

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Before Danger Mouse dropped The Grey Album and caused all the hubbub, hip-hoppers were drawn to Kev Brown's The Brown Album, a more traditional and urban remix of Jay-Z's goodbye to the rap game. Starting with one of those casual and swaggering intros that often kick-off bootleg mixtapes (plenty of "Yo"s, shout-outs, and guffaws) it's obvious that The Brown Album has more street-cred than The Grey Album, but Kev Brown's take on Jay-Z's beats isn't nearly as inspired as the Mouse's, and he's made one decision that makes the album a huge letdown. Maybe it was in hopes of radio exposure, but Brown has taken out all of the cussing and swearing, making "99 Problems" and "Threats" nearly unlistenable. Brown's effort to make the album smoother, and in to a funky excursion with touches of Philly soul is exciting, and the blabbing interludes offer an aloof alternative to Danger Mouse's slightly sterile laptop mix. Brown's world is more warm, scratchy vinyl compared to the I-Pod culture Mouse comes from, but Jay-Z doesn't drop an explicative without reason, and the edits are crippling. It makes The Brown Album hard to consider, even when the soulful beats hint at the great bootleg that could have been.

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