Danger Doom 

The Mouse and the Mask

Backpacker mash-up deity Dangermouse and raspy emcee MF Doom team up with an odd assortment of hip-hop kingpins (Ghostface, Talib Kweli, and Cee-lo) and Cartoon Network characters (cantankerous talking milkshakes, supernatural french-fry boxes, blundering ex-superhero lawyers) for this much-anticipated collaboration. The Mouse and the Mask has everything you loved about Doom's 2004 hit Madvillainy -- the druggy stream-of-consciousness raps, the copious trash culture references, the "Ooh-look-what-I-sampled" production style, the emcee's grimly romantic countenance -- but seems hookier and jauntier, owing to all those silly cartoon cameos. Yeah, sure, it's another high-concept, gimmicky MF Doom album: A Pitchfork geek could probably waste several afternoons scouring the liner notes and still not get every in-joke. All the same, Dangermouse expertly weaves funky beats with schmaltzy TV-theme-song horn riffs, and Doom flaunts enough humor and self-irony to make this palatable for first-timers.

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