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The Obama Mix: An Inaugural Mashup

By Andrea Shea (WBUR)

Download "The Obama Mix" (zipped MP3, 84.7 MB, via djztrip.com)

Shepard Fairey's iconic poster.
Shepard Fairey's iconic poster.

It’s funny. I generally don’t blog. But I found something this past weekend that I thought some people might want to hear about, if they haven’t already. It’s a mix by DJ Z-Trip. I caught it on WBAI in New York while driving over the beautifully lit White Stone Bridge on my way to Long Island. A hip, thoughtful, announcer was reveling in Obama’s upcoming inauguration. She reflected on issues important to American artists, such as access to affordable health care and the proposed creation of the country’s first Secretary of the Arts. (See the "Rolling Stone" article.)

Then the announcer introduced, with much fanfare, “The Obama Mix.”

She lauded its ingenious blend of spoken word with a grab-bag of musical genres, old and new. "The Obama Mix" is lengthy, clocking in at nearly an hour long, and it’s quite a ride. In it DJ Z-Trip cuts up particularly moving sections from Obama’s speeches, then mashes them with excerpts from revolutionary musics. Hip hop, rock, reggae and soul are all represented. Samples come from songs by Gil Scott Heron, Pink Floyd, Bob Marley, Public Enemy, The Pointer Sisters, The Chemical Brothers, Arrested Development and about a dozen more.

Check it out for yourself at djztrip.com/obama.

DJ Z-Trip is widely regarded as the founder of the “mash-up” movement, which essentially fuses together existing pieces of music. The results are both nostalgic and completely new. Z-Trip is one of the most popular DJs on the planet. He opened for the Rolling Stones in Toronto. The audience was 500,000-plus. He has also played at alternative music festivals such as Bonaroo and Coachella.

As it turns out, Z-Trip is buddies with Shepard Fairey, the guerrilla street artist behind the now iconic image of President Obama. That red, white and blue rendering popped up at grassroots events on posters and T-shirts. Eventually, Fairey’s artwork ended up on the cover of "Time" magazine.

Perhaps it’s a sign of the times that underground artists such as Z-Trip and Fairey are now sharing thoughts and rubbing elbows with this country’s new leader. (Shepard Fairey is in Washington for this historic occasion.)

I think it might be.

Z-Trip is offering his “Obama Mix” to the public for free. He encourages people to share it any way they want. A cleaner broadcast version is also available.

The “Obama Mix” has proved so popular that its creator concocted a sequel: “Victory Lap: The Obama Mix Part 2.”

DJ Z-trip explains why on his Web site:
It’s my way of congratulating all of us for electing what I think is the right person for the job. We made history and I’m proud to be a part of that. Yes, my friends, it is time to celebrate, but please don’t lose sight of the mess we are still in, there is plenty of work that lies ahead.

Shepard Fairey has an upcoming show at the ICA. It opes Feb. 6.

This program aired on January 26, 2009. The audio for this program is not available.

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