August 8, 2007

Drink Coasters: Jay-Z & Linkin Park - Collision Course (November 30, 2004)

This would be the last Jay-Z album I can write about before I'm forced to finish up his discography. Since I like procrastinating, I choose to go with the last flat-out awful album in his catalog.

Shawn Carter and Linkin Park were brought together by the terrible, terrible folks at Music Television in an effort to legitimize a burgeoning art form: namely, the mash-up. At this point, mash-ups were reinforcing their position in the mainstream subconscious: Jay-Z himself benefited greatly from Danger Mouse's Beatles mash The Grey Album, an album that most people find to be a better listening experience than the actual Black Album. As so happens every time the mainstream tries to force itself into the art house crowd, this project fails miserably. You may be fooled into thinking that Collision Course, the Jay-Z/Linkin Park/presented by MTV Ultimate Mash Up Album, is actually decent, especially since the first single, "Numb/Encore", won a Grammy. Don't believe the hype. You should know better than that. This album is straight trash.

Even the use of that word is suspect in this case. This isn't really an 'album'. Collision Course comprises of only six songs over the course of twenty-one minutes. Which wouldn't be bad, if it were marketed as an EP, or at least a maxi-single (remember those?). Instead, the MSRP of this CD is around twenty bucks. True, it comes with a DVD featuring some live performances, but you shouldn't care about that. If you're paying twenty dollars for a CD, in this day and age, it better be worth it, and Collision Course, unsurprisingly, is not.

The best mash-ups out there are made by artists who are forced to maximize their creativity in an effort to grab the ears of the listener. They actively try to make a new sound emerge from two or more sources, usually because what they're doing with these songs is, um, illegal. Collision Course, however, reminds me of Tom Cruise in Vanilla Sky, wanting to listen to two different albums at the exact same time. The aforementioned "Numb/Encore" is a perfect example, using generally the entirety of Linkin Park's "Numb" as the basis for the song, save for some medium drum hits from the original "Encore". However, the effect is that of some sonic monstrosity, instead of some elaborate creation by two artists. I mention only two artists, even though there are...actually, I have no idea how many people are in Linkin Park (I'd look it up, but this is a hip hop blog), but this is mainly the Jay-Z and Mike Shinoda (a/k/a Fort Minor) show, with Chester Bennington (a/k/a Screech) in tow, although he doesn't seem pleased to be there.

It shouldn't shock anyone that they only brought their respective "hits" to the table for the mix-up (for anyone who was jonesing to hear a rock mix of "I Know What Girls Like", why the fuck are you reading my blog?), but I was shocked to see three separate Timbaland-produced joints thrown in the collective blender. ("Jigga What" was a hit?) "Dirt Off Your Shoulders/Lying From You" is a frustrating listen, mainly for Screech's misplaced vocals. (How has he not shredded his vocal chords tenfold?) Fort Shinoda isn't the worst rapper in the world, and I'm sure he leapt at the opportunity to hear his voice over actual rap beats (Collision Course begat Fort Minor's The Rising Tied). Timbo should be happy to hear that the songs presented here don't even come close to touching the original Jay-Hova hits, as should Kanye West and Rick Rubin, the only other two Jay producers represented.

Some of the ideas presented here will make you scratch your head. Jigga only seems to have re-done his vocals for one song, "Jigga What/Faint" (which should actually be called "N---a What N---a Who/Faint", but whatever...), but the rest of his contributions are culled from album tracks, some directly lifted from The Black Album Acapellas, which every blogger who ever even contemplated the thought of dreaming of producing has a copy of somewhere. (Before you ask, mine is in a crate somewhere.) I found it odd that "Izzo/In The End" only uses Kanye West's "Izzo (H.O.V.A.)" beat, without any Linkin Park interruption, save for Fort Mike's second verse, which just sounds off. I also could have done without Mike Minor's reinterpolation of the first verse on "99 Problems" (on "Points of Authority/99 Problems/One Step Closer"), especially since he sounds like he's rapping about Jay-Z, to Jay-Z. I assume that Rick Rubin was extremely pissed about how "99 Problems", which he produced for Jigga, was so badly mistreated, and therefore chopped Shinoda's role significantly on the new Linkin Park album, Minutes To Midnight, which he also produced. Just my theory, though. I could be completely wrong.

All in all, your twenty bucks would be better spent on a nice dinner, or a bag of weed, or a half-assed blowjob on the strip, or, oh yeah, buying a better fucking album. I would say 'avoid this at all costs', but you already know that. My two readers are so smart!

That said, there is now only one album left in the Jay-Z discography (I'm not counting the Streets Is Watching soundtrack, because it's not a true Jay album, and besides, Ja Rule's on it, and I can't support that). One of the original intentions of this blog was to dissect how the quote-unquote "best rappers" out there have reached their respective peaks in hip hop, and whether or not their titles are deserved. As such, Kingdom Come is coming soon. Then I'll do something constructive, like focus on the discography of Afroman or something.



  1. i'm surprised you bothered to review this album, because as you mentioned, it's barely an album. I always thought of the album as an accessory to Numb/Encore so Jay could make a bit more money out of his grammy-award winning mash-up.

    Can't wait for your kingdom come review for two main reasons:

    1. When Kingdom Come was released, most reviewers raced to make their opinions known on the album, but Jay-Z albums just don't work like that. It's been about 9 months now since it's release and has had more than enough time to set in and it'll be interesting hearing some opinions on the album now

    2. Simply, i enjoy your reviews and your sense of humour, so keep it going when you can!

  2. I think that's the angriest review of yours I've read so far. Granted, I have some more to read but you, I'm guessing, didn't like this record. Personally, I'd rather eat it than listen to it. But I've also never really bought into the Hova hype anyway. And I also agree that that dudes throat should be shredded since any time I hear him sing it feels like my ear drums are disintegrating and leaking out my ear holes.

  3. afroman, indeed !!! lol

    Probably going to offend every hiphophead outthere with this comment but fuck it, here goes :
    I for one never cared much for Jay Z anyway, I find his voice simply irritating . First time i saw him was on some MTV awards show performing "Girls girls" (if that's the title, don't know don't care)surrounded by a zillion girls and thank god for them cause that was by far the only interesting thing to watch . Boring song, boring voice, boring beat, boring boxer shorts, boring ...

    Maybe one can make an interesting compilation out of his albums by selecting his DJ premiers tracks but i never cared to check that out.

  4. I'm gonna be honest here, I have never listened to this album and probably never will. I've heard just what was on the radio. The main reason, I don't like Linkin Park. Also, I don't like the songs they redid here except "99 problems" which was just fine the way it was. If you want an interesting remix of that song, check out the Black Album remix by the Japanese producer Bach Logic, it's pretty good. This album always seemed like just a crappy mashup with no reason for being.

  5. I honestly lost my pants everytime you mentioned Shinonda. Fort Shinonda? Fort Mike? Mike Minor? Am I the only one that noticed this? That was hilarious. Well done Max.

    Oh the album? Fuck that shit (SUPERNATURAL IS YOUR IDOL(sorry ever since I saw the Supernat VS Juice freestyle battle I can't say "fuck that shit" without saying SUPERNATURAL IS YOUR IDOL))