If there is a symbol of the mashup in mainstream music culture, it is undoubtedly Jay-Z, whose collaboration with Linkin Park was basically the record industry’s only stab at the genre, and whose presence on Danger Mouse’s Gray Album basically made Danger Mouse’s career. Yet while MTV will pretty willingly gush over Jay-Z mashups, the online music community generally ignores them, preferring instead to mashup things like Outkast and Of Montreal (zing!). As a result, with Entertainment Weekly and VH1 gushing over the latest big-name Hova mashup, Viva La Hova, it may be tempting to ignore this one too, especially when it involves as gauche a pairing as Coldplay.

Nonetheless, it comes from notable mixtape producers Terry Urban and Mick Boogie and features production from the likes of 9th Wonder and 6th Sense. And actually, it’s not really so much a mashup album as a Jay-Z remix album that only samples Coldplay. This may sound dumb in theory, but basically it’s a run through recent Jay classics (the verses are almost all from The Blueprint, The Black Album and American Gangster) over dense guitar samples, and it turns out great. It closely mirrors Viva La Vida’s aesthetic, which works well, and most of the producers do very cool things with these Coldplay songs. Until Mick Boogie totally bombs with “Lost Part 2,” every track is convincingly solid, and if this mixtape were only the first two thirds plus 6th Sense’s show-stealing “Falling In Shadows,” it would be basically perfect. As it is, it’s definitely one of the best mashups/mixtapes of the year, largely because it’s hard to go wrong when you throw twenty solid Jay verses on anything. Also, although Terry Urban and Mick Boogie are reasonably well-known names in the online hip hop circuit, I wouldn’t be surprised if their careers blow up after this (although the real stars are some of the low-profile producers who drop dope tracks here, especially nVMe).

You can get more information and download Viva La Hova at VivaLaHova.com.

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