In this category we write an open letter to a specific artist or group. It could be advice, criticism, a request, a text to show love or hate or something else related to the artist. This time it’s an open letter to producer Danger Mouse.
Dear Mr Brian Burton,
I’m writing this letter express my deep admiration for you as a producer, and the example you set for other producers. Its been a love/hate/love situation, allow me to explain.
My first exposure to you was in the form of Ghetto Pop Life. It featured top notch production, and you put Jemini Tha Gifted One in the spot light. I had been waiting a long time for an official album from Jemini and was far from disappointed. At that time I was very excited to hear what else you were going to come with.
The Grey Album landed on my lap shortly after the Jemini album. Again, I was very pleased. I (as a producer also) always felt like The Beatles had a wealth of good samples, but they are a touchy artist to sample. Their catalog is so well known, I’ve always been of the opinion, if The Beatles aren’t sampled right, they shouldn’t be sampled at all. Well, you did it right. Add to that, Jay Z’s new found maturity on the Black Album… It was a winning combination.
DANGERDOOM, ah yes. This album was stellar. Your production on that was an extension of DOOM’s production, but a great deal more polished. And DOOM sounded super duper fresh on it. In my opinion, classic compared to your previous efforts. Again I was thrilled to hear what came next. You kicked me in the balls with the next release though, Brian.
I get it. I know what Gnarls Barkley was about. I don’t like it though. It’s a hot mess to me. Like I said, I get it though. You injected pop music with some much need freshness. But come on, Cee Lo covering the Violent Femmes? Disappointed to say the least.
Eventually hearing the Gorillaz album after this, I was jaded by this point and went into it with a preconceived notion of what it would be like. All I could hear when listening to it was every teenage girl in her car singing “Crazy” at a stop light. How could the mastermind behind DANGERDOOM sink so low???
Shortly after this, the word on the internet was you were producing an album for The Black Keys with Ike Turner on vocals. This enraged me. The Black Keys are one of my favorite bands for one reason, consistency. They don’t need a hip hop (now POP) producer stepping into the fray and dragging poor Ike Turner with him. All I could think was “man, he’s gonna fuck up those drums”. Well, to everyone’s dismay, Ike Turner passed away before getting to lay down the vocals (R.I.P). You stuck it out and recorded a record with them anyways.
I held off buying this for a long time out of spite. But I love The Black Keys so I eventually broke down. This is where I start with the apologies. Attack and Release is an amazing album. Beginning to end, flawless. Maybe not my personal favorite Black Keys album, but probably their best conceptually, and consistent with their past work. I wasn’t totally sold on you again though. There’s that whole Beck album…
Unless you’re Nigel Godrich or The Dust Brothers, you probably shouldn’t try to fuck with Beck. When I heard about Beck recording with you, I was actually a little disappointed in him. I felt that you producing a Beck album was him looking for that Gnarls Barkley “hit”. At the time I was thinking “The Information was a great album because it had the depth that Nigel brings to the table, and the funk that The Dust Brothers consistently bring. What’s Brian Burton going to bring to the table?” As it turns out Mr Burton brought one of the best Beck albums since Sea Change. Incredibly thorough record.
You see, I made the mistake of putting you in the “beatmaker producer” box because of my own personal favorites (Jemini and DANGERDOOM). Thats not the case though, and I apologize. You are an amazingly well rounded producer without touching a beat machine. You’re a producer in the truest sense, you can step into the studio and just guide an artist or band. You can push a band or artist, technically and artistically, to where they may not have known they could go.
Hip hop producers around the world should really listen to the projects you’ve produced and try and take something away from them. I’m aware you’re not JUST a hip hop producer, but many people like myself view you as that first. Hip hop could use your guidance nowadays. Its boiled down to emcees picking their beats from a pool of producers and constructing albums that look good on paper, but fall short aurally.
In closing Brian, thanks for bearing with me over the years. I’m excited about the murmuring of a Black Thought collaboration and another DANGERDOOM album. It would be nice to see you return to hip hop, but if not, it’s cool. I’ll keep bangin Beck, Sparklehorse, The Good, The Bad, And The Queen, and yes, Ghetto Pop Life.