Brian Joseph Burton, better known by his stage name Danger Mouse, is an American musician, songwriter and producer.
A child of the ’90s, Burton’s tastes reflect the eclectic utopianism of the decade, with his most important work often deconstructing the already-thin lines between hip hop, trip hop, dub, soul, indie rock, electronica, and psychedelia. The result is almost always a delectable chunk of ear candy.
Burton scored his first DJ gigs while at the University of Georgia. Shy about performing in public, Burton took to wearing a mouse suit while spinning his first parties. It was thus that he adopted the Danger Mouse tag. By the early 2000s, Danger Mouse had relocated to the musically fertile New Cross ward of South London.
In 2004, Danger Mouse created what may be the most famous “mash-up” of all time. Collaging a series of remixes merging songs from Jay-Z’s The Black Album and the Beatles’ The White Album, Danger Mouse began distributing his The Grey Album CD to friends and supporters.
The mash-up rapidly gained cult status as online copies of the record spread like wildfire. Indeed, so successful was this bootleg project that EMI ordered a cease and desist—this in spite of the fact that Ringo, Macca, and Hova all offered their artistic praise for the project.
Thanks to EMI’s lawsuit, even the square entertainment business caught wind of the bootleg, with no less mainstream a publication than Entertainment Weekly naming it 2004’s Album of the Year. With his next project, Danger Mouse would produce a strong contender for Album of the Decade. In 2005, Danger sat at the controls for Demon Days, the sophomore masterpiece by Damon Albarn’s future funk, trip hop collective Gorillaz. A concept record foretelling the apocalypse against the backdrop of the War on Terror, Demon Days owed its deeply evocative textures, brilliantly foraged samples, and paradoxically radio-friendly tenor to Burton’s ear.
For his next collaboration, Danger Mouse stepped out from behind the controls to form the duo Gnarls Barkley with Dirty South legend CeeLo Green. Gnarls Barkley’s first single, “Crazy,” owns the distinction of being the first to reach #1 on the U.K. charts through online downloads only. Their debut album, St. Elsewhere, earned the pair a Grammy for Best Alternative Record of the year.
It also made Burton one of the most sought-after producers in the business and, consequently, one of the most consistent. Collaborations with MF Doom (The Mouse and the Mask), Norah Jones (Little Broken Hearts), and Beck (Modern Guilt) helped to strengthen Burton’s production résumé. His production work for the Black Keys helped transform the relatively nondescript blues rock duo into one of the biggest touring acts in the world.
In 2009, Esquire magazine named Danger Mouse on its list of “The 75 Most Influential People of the 21st Century.”
Clancy's comment: So much talent, eh?