Dec 1 2010

The Top 50 Albums of the 2000s – Night Ripper

Today I continue a series of posts dedicated to the best albums of the last decade, posting analysis of one album at a time.

46. Girl Talk – Night Ripper

Before 2006, Girl Talk was merely a laptop-based sound collage dude, as his 2002 debut Secret Diary reveals.  It’s interesting, but as far as the Greg Gillis we know and love today, it’s worlds apart, and frankly, musically speaking, an unlistenable mess.  2003’s Unstoppable, while still pretty low-key and amateur, is more in line with the mashup style Girl Talk would be famous for.  And then there was Night Ripper, a 45-minute nonstop party album, combining indie with mainstream hip-hop, modern R&B hits with classic rock staples, Motown gold with 90’s alternative.

This year, Gillis released his fifth proper LP All Day, and if one thing is certain, it’s that the man has honed his craft.  Still, there are many moments of timeless brilliance on this breakthrough disc – Puff Daddy alongside the Pixies, Biggie with Elton John, David Banner rapping to Nine Inch Nails, MIA rocking out to Hum.  The mixes come at you a mile a minute; it’s not an album to fully digest in one sitting, or two, or three.  And the remarkable thing is this: much like another artist who takes from pop culture in its current incarnation to make something completely different (I’m thinking of Weird Al), the results have oddly aged well, even when the source hasn’t.

Since Night Ripper exploded onto the scene with glowing reviews, Gillis has remained a mainstay on the dance scene, entertaining the festival circuit with his signature brand of shows (where he invites fans to rush the stage for the entirety of his performance) and becoming a prominent figurehead in the copyright/sampling debate.  Naturally, Girl Talk has as many detractors as fans – how, they ask, could someone get so famous for creating something anyone could do in their bedroom?  And yet, almost five years after Night Ripper and a plethora of emulation later, no one does it quite like Girl Talk.