1. El Chupa Nibre 2. Sofa King 3. The Mask Feat. Ghostface Killah 4. Perfect Hair
5. Benzie Box Feat. Cee-Lo 6. Old School 7. A.T.H.F. (Aqua Teen Hunger Force)
8. Basket Case 9. No Names (Black Debbie) 10. Crosshairs 11. Mincemeat
12. Vats Of Urine 13. Space Ho's 14. Bada Bing
Label: Epitaph/Ada / Release date: October 11, 2005
Okay, first things first background. Danger Doom is the new collaboration between mask-wearing, underground MC (that's rap talk for singer) MF Doom, and underground DJ (that's rap talk for the whole fucking band) Dangermouse. The same Dangermouse that got himself some main stream press when he created what some critics called "a bootleg masterpiece" with The Grey Album. The album featured a remixed version of Jay-Z's The Black Album, where all of the beats were made up entirely of samples from The Beatles' White Album. Getting Dangermouse and MF Doom to work together was an obvious, but all the same, brilliant idea.
Dangermouse is a genius. Personally, when I heard The Grey Album, I just found myself wishing Jay-Z would shut up so I could hear the intricately constructed beats. On The Mouse and The Mask, there's none of that. Doom's lyrics and flow take twists that you can't see coming, and are far more interesting than Jay-Z's constant use of repetition and made-up words. Plus and this is the key the raps compliment the beats perfectly and vice versa.
Now, there's something else you should know . . . it adds to the overall greatness. The Mouse and the Mask is something of a concept album. All of the tracks center around the characters from the original shows on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim. There are samples throughout from Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Space Ghost, and more. Plus there are brand new recordings mixed in by Brak, Space Ghost, Master Shake, Meat Wad, Harvey Birdman, and others.
If you're a fan of Adult Swim, all this stuff just makes a great album better. I mean, c'mon, Meat Wad raps, and then middle-aged Carl asks him "where's the keyboards, and the tambourine, and the guitars . . . you know, the stuff that white people like." It's funny as hell. Also funny is the running gag where Master Shake (that's the giant talking milk shake from Aqua Teen) leaves a series of answering machine messages where he gets more and more pissed off about not being included on the album. Classic.
The samples and dialogue are not intrusive, as they easily could have been, but rather the exact opposite. The beats, the lyrics, the samples, the dialogue, it all comes together smoothly in this perfectly-crafted album. It actually reminds me of the first Wu-Tang Clan album, except that where you heard sounds from an old kung-fu movie on that one, you hear a rapping meat ball, or a singing alien, or a pissed-off super hero talk show host on this one. Yeah, it's funny, but it's also part of the experience, and the way that it's not just tacked on, adds another dimension to this already solid work.
Include the guest appearances on the album by Talib Kweli and Wu-Tang's Ghostface Killa and it becomes clear that hip-hop doesn't get much better than this. Honestly, if it wasn't for that album by The Streets last year, I could say this was the best rap album of the past five years! It just works.