Remember the old days, when sampling someone's record meant praying they wouldn't find out and sue? In a post-Negativland, post-Girl Talk (and some say, post-hip-hop) musical environment, that may be a thing of the past. Pittsburgh emcee Jack Wilson, a.k.a. DJ Brewer, certainly hopes so: His new album, Take the Fire From My Hand, consists to a large extent of him rapping over clearly identified indie-rock and euro-pop songs.
Wilson describes the tracks as "attempts to make new versions of pre-existing songs by adding my words to them," and his lyrics often directly engage with the song and address the project's concept. Over a Tapes n' Tapes riff, he raps, "this ain't making anybody rich or getting dishes did / just a bit of spittin' from a motivated Pittsburgh kid."
And perhaps the project isn't entirely unauthorized: "Air France and the Super Furry Animals have heard the tracks and given me their OK to use them," Wilson says. But that leaves Phoenix, DJ Krush, DJ Shadow, John Vanderslice and others in unwitting duets; "Imitosis" is essentially the Andrew Bird song of same name with Wilson rapping over the breakdowns.
Wilson cracks wise by sampling The Verve (famously sued by The Rolling Stones for copyright infringement), and one of the three locally produced tracks, by Spaed, is titled "Clap Your Hands Say Yeah," a nod to the indie-rock theme. Omar-Abdul produces and guests on the eerie groove "Misunderstood," and locals Billy Pilgrim, Obsolete and DUMs also guest.
Take the Fire, a free download at www.takethefire.com, gets a limited-edition physical release this Fri., Dec. 18, at Shadow Lounge, where Wilson plans to perform the tracks in order. Get yours before the cease-and-desist.
Jack Wilson mixtape release with Billy Pilgrim, Dums & Jophiel, Selecta and Brian Francis. 9 p.m. Fri., Dec. 18. Shadow Lounge, 5872 Baum Blvd., East Liberty. $5 ($10 includes CD). 412-363-8277 or www.shadowlounge.net