Remix Culture Done Right: Wes Tank Mashes Up Dr. Seuss With Dr. Dre (And So Far The Copyright Police Have Left Him Alone)
from the doctor-meets-doctor dept
A few days back I saw a friend share an incredible video on YouTube of a guy in Milwaukee named Wes Tank, rapping Dr. Seuss’s “Fox in Sox” over Dr. Dre beats. Even if you think that sounds great, the final result is even better than you expect:
That video went super viral and is currently at over 3.5 million views on YouTube. Wes has since been adding more and more Seuss-over-Dre videos to his channel and each one is incredible. Because I can’t pick favorites, here are a few. You’ll want to watch them all.
Since seeing these videos (multiple times), I’ve read and watched a few different interviews with him and he says he basically came up with this idea on a whim five or so years ago, and did it at a live show, and got a tremendous response. Since then, he’s done it a few times and it’s a crowd favorite, but he never really had time to make the videos for it until, you know, the pandemic hit and the work he was planning to do with his recently created video production company, TankThink, got put on hold.
Of course, as someone who has promoted and supported the concept of mashup or remix culture for decades, this reminded me (yet again) of why being able to do this kind of creativity is so important. Wes himself has talked about the joy and value these videos are creating:
“I think this is helping families a little bit to cope and to have something positive that is going to make you laugh, and is not cynical, and it’s not the news,” Tank said. “There are so many kids out there who have no clue about what is going on in the world and that naivete is sort of fragile, and everybody’s parents are a little tense. So when people send videos of their kids glued to the screen watching this, that just warms my heart.”
It really is quite wonderful.
But of course… the downside of paying attention to these kinds of things for decades has me wondering how this plays out in the long term… because copyright always has the ability to come in and create problems. In one interview he’s asked if he’ll be putting out an album of the tracks, and he implies that copyright might get in the way of any kind of official album release (though he is offering the MP3s to his Patreon supporters).
Still, we’re talking about the notoriously litigious Dr. Seuss estate, which not only sued over a fun parody of Dr. Seuss’s work, but is still fighting the fact that it has so far lost that case. Parts of that case just had oral arguments before the 9th Circuit a few weeks ago. In other words, the Seuss Estate doesn’t seem all that keen on letting people create derivative works. And that’s before we get into whoever holds the copyright on Dre’s music. Getting both sides of the copyright equation to agree on allowing this would make sense in a sane copyright world — but that’s not the world we live in.
Hopefully, neither side gets upset with this and they let Wes continue doing such an amazing job — but just the fact that we all know there’s a decent chance these amazingly creative mashups might disappear because Dr. Seuss’s estate doesn’t get paid, should be yet another damning example of how ridiculous the state of copyright law has become today.