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Trip Hop - Released January 1, 1996 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography

Rap/Hip-Hop - Released November 15, 2019 | Mass Appeal

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Those who are feeling nostalgic about 90s hip-hop can be rest assured: DJ Shadow has more left in the tank. Over twenty years after Endtroducing… the Bay Area producer has released Our Pathetic Age, one of his best records yet and certainly one of his most comprehensive since it comprises a double album where each track is as good as the last. Even Shadow considers it his most “cohesive” album since his 4-part EP What Does Your Soul Look Like from 1994. The first disc showcases his instrumental side. As a pioneer of abstract hip-hop, Shadow’s music is impressive right from the off with the atmospheric soundscape of Slingblade. On Firestorm he proves that he can play the piano like few others on the rap scene, while the single Rosie (which samples from Little Rosie, a song from 1962 by the vocal trio The Phoenix Singers) encapsulates the different facets of DJ Shadow’s style. He describes the song as “a three-part voyage through my evolution as a beatmaker”. Equally brilliant are the tracks If I Died Today and We Are Always Alone. The second disc boasts a dazzling list of featuring artists, with a number of figures from hip-hop’s “golden years”. We find Nas and Pharoahe Monch on the 80s beat of Drone Warfare, Raekwon and Ghostface Killah from Wu Tang Clan on Rain On Snow, and even De la Soul on the funky scratch-packed hit Rocket Fuel. It’s hard not to mention Gift of Gab’s performance, half of the Blackalicious duo, who gives a lesson in flow on C.O.N.F.O.R.M. We also find the narcotic hit Small Colleges (Stay With Me) with Wiki from the New York crew Ratking and Paul Banks, the singer from Interpol, as well as the wistful song Dark Side of the Heart, featuring the R&B singer Fantastic Negrito. 26 tracks of pure delight. © Smaël Bouaici/Qobuz
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Electronic/Dance - Released June 24, 2016 | Mass Appeal

In the professional and creative senses, Reconstructed: The Best of DJ Shadow cleared the deck for Josh Davis. Released in 2012, it summarized the producer's Mo Wax and major-label years, and somewhat perversely included only one cut that originated on his 1996 landmark debut album. After a 2014 EP, the first release through his download-only Liquid Amber label, Davis completely severed ties with majors and connected with the independent Mass Appeal. In the booklet for The Mountain Will Fall -- his fifth proper album -- only a handful of interpolations and samples are credited. After the detailed track list, a series of images pointedly depict a wall of analog electronic gear. While this album is much less reliant upon repurposed recordings than what preceded it -- Davis voiced the intent to put his touch on what contemporary music moves him -- there are many shared qualities. The sounds of the components have varied from release to release, but The Mountain Will Fall, as much as anything else, can be classified as a sprawling, largely instrumental suite rooted in hip-hop. There are subtle and abrupt changes in mood, dashes of off-center humor, and moments of bass-drum bombardment following extended stretches of austere atmospheres. Likewise, there are tracks within tracks that slip and tumble down unexpected paths. There's even a modern-day equivalent to "The Number Song," the almost-as-cut-up and equally rambunctious "The Sideshow." The few guest appearances have true purpose, not merely the fulfillment of half-hearted offers to "work together sometime." In typically hostile and humorous form, Killer Mike and El-P mix it up with live brass and horns on the gunslinging "Nobody Speak." "Bergschrund" ("mountain crevasse"), made with Nils Frahm, is a bracing hybrid of stutter-stop beats, blips, and thrumming effects that evoke perilous suspense. An equally valuable contribution comes from a group of musicians, including Matthew Halsall, on "Ashes to Oceans." Davis seems to tug a dying drum machine across a shoreline before rapid handclap clusters and a feverish drum break arrive, only to dissolve into smeared piano and Halsall's trumpet. Some moments are so bleak that they could be titled descriptively as "What Does Your Witch House Look Like, Pts. 1-2," yet the whole thing sounds like it was created in a state of fevered inspiration. ~ Andy Kellman
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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released July 24, 2019 | Mass Appeal Records II

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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released November 15, 2019 | Mass Appeal

Those who are feeling nostalgic about 90s hip-hop can be rest assured: DJ Shadow has more left in the tank. Over twenty years after Endtroducing… the Bay Area producer has released Our Pathetic Age, one of his best records yet and certainly one of his most comprehensive since it comprises a double album where each track is as good as the last. Even Shadow considers it his most “cohesive” album since his 4-part EP What Does Your Soul Look Like from 1994. The first disc showcases his instrumental side. As a pioneer of abstract hip-hop, Shadow’s music is impressive right from the off with the atmospheric soundscape of Slingblade. On Firestorm he proves that he can play the piano like few others on the rap scene, while the single Rosie (which samples from Little Rosie, a song from 1962 by the vocal trio The Phoenix Singers) encapsulates the different facets of DJ Shadow’s style. He describes the song as “a three-part voyage through my evolution as a beatmaker”. Equally brilliant are the tracks If I Died Today and We Are Always Alone. The second disc boasts a dazzling list of featuring artists, with a number of figures from hip-hop’s “golden years”. We find Nas and Pharoahe Monch on the 80s beat of Drone Warfare, Raekwon and Ghostface Killah from Wu Tang Clan on Rain On Snow, and even De la Soul on the funky scratch-packed hit Rocket Fuel. It’s hard not to mention Gift of Gab’s performance, half of the Blackalicious duo, who gives a lesson in flow on C.O.N.F.O.R.M. We also find the narcotic hit Small Colleges (Stay With Me) with Wiki from the New York crew Ratking and Paul Banks, the singer from Interpol, as well as the wistful song Dark Side of the Heart, featuring the R&B singer Fantastic Negrito. 26 tracks of pure delight. © Smaël Bouaici/Qobuz
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Trip Hop - Released June 4, 2002 | Geffen*

Five years on from his breakout Endtroducing..., hip-hop's reigning recluse showed he still had plenty of tricks up his sleeve -- as well as many more rare grooves left for sampling. Shadow had kept a low recording profile during past years, putting out only a few mix sets alongside a pair of collaborations (Psyence Fiction by UNKLE and Quannum Spectrum). That lack of product actually helps The Private Press display just how good a producer he is; the depth of his production sense and the breadth of his stylistic palette prove just as astonishing the second time out. His style is definitely still recognizable, right from the start; "Fixed Income" and "Giving Up the Ghost" carefully layer wistful-sounding string arrangements overtop cavernous David Axelrod breaks (the latter a bit reminiscent of "Midnight in a Perfect World" from Endtroducing...). From there, though, DJ Shadow seldom treads the same path twice, switching from strutting disco breaks ("Walkie Talkie") to melancholy '60s pop that sounds like the second coming of Procol Harum ("Six Days"). "Right Thing/GDMFSOB" is pure breakers revenge, boasting accelerating, echoey electro breakbeats and enough confidence to recycle Leonard Nimoy's "pure energy" sample and make it work. Later, Shadow turns to pure aggro for the hilarious road-rage comedy of "Mashin' on the Motorway" (with Lateef the Truth Speaker behind the wheel), then summons the conceptual calm of a David Axelrod classic on the very next track with solo piano and a vocal repeating Bible text. Fans may have grown impatient waiting almost six years for the second DJ Shadow LP, but a classic like The Private Press could last at least that long, and maybe longer. [Initially, most copies of The Private Press on sale in America included a track available for download as a bonus.] ~ John Bush
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Electronic/Dance - Released January 1, 2012 | Universal-Island Records Ltd.

The problem with compiling experimental, instrumental hip-hop producer DJ Shadow is that his two-decade-plus career has yielded a mere five albums, and one of those is 1996's Endtroducing..., a mammothly influential release, the first album that was comprised entirely of samples, and one that's beloved beyond belief. This one-disc compilation deals with its Sgt Pepper's-sized, must-have classic status by grabbing two important cuts off the album, putting the aptly titled, nocturnal dream "Midnight in a Perfect World" right up front and dropping the single edit of the serene "Stem" between a new cut (a jazzy, life-journey called "Listen" with the full-bodied, bluesy voice of Terry Reid) and the best bit off his Private Press (2002) album (the Procol Harum-meets-David Axelrod-ish "Six Days"). Not only are they the best reminders for fans, but that leaves plenty of music for newcomers to discover once Endtroducing… is acquired; but where Reconstructed really wins is with the rest, rounding up the best bits that more casual fans might have missed (the moody and refined drifter "Redeemed" off 2011's The Less You Know, The Better, or 2006's The Outsider being represented by the Bill Withers-bright blast of soul called "This Time (I'm Gonna Try It My Way)") along with some rare cuts that reach out of the usual discography (the funky introvert-dubbed "Lonely Soul" with Richard Ashcroft is actually from the trip-hop supergroup U.N.K.L.E., of which Shadow was a once a member). Exiting with the subterranean and special "Dark Days" from the film of the same name earns the comp some extra credit, but the boom-bap-meets-Duane Eddy track does bring up an arguable point: that Reconstructed favors the deep, crafted, and cool side of Shadow's output over his more outgoing and heavily rap-based work. Still, it's a fine set, worth owning along with Endtroducing… while giving beat-friendly newcomers a very persuasive career-to-date overview. ~ David Jeffries
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Electronic/Dance - Released January 1, 2012 | Universal-Island Records Ltd.

The problem with compiling experimental, instrumental hip-hop producer DJ Shadow is that his two-decade-plus career has yielded a mere five albums, and one of those is 1996's Endtroducing..., a mammothly influential release, the first album that was comprised entirely of samples, and one that's beloved beyond belief. This one-disc compilation deals with its Sgt Pepper's-sized, must-have classic status by grabbing two important cuts off the album, putting the aptly titled, nocturnal dream "Midnight in a Perfect World" right up front and dropping the single edit of the serene "Stem" between a new cut (a jazzy, life-journey called "Listen" with the full-bodied, bluesy voice of Terry Reid) and the best bit off his Private Press (2002) album (the Procol Harum-meets-David Axelrod-ish "Six Days"). Not only are they the best reminders for fans, but that leaves plenty of music for newcomers to discover once Endtroducing… is acquired; but where Reconstructed really wins is with the rest, rounding up the best bits that more casual fans might have missed (the moody and refined drifter "Redeemed" off 2011's The Less You Know, The Better, or 2006's The Outsider being represented by the Bill Withers-bright blast of soul called "This Time (I'm Gonna Try It My Way)") along with some rare cuts that reach out of the usual discography (the funky introvert-dubbed "Lonely Soul" with Richard Ashcroft is actually from the trip-hop supergroup U.N.K.L.E., of which Shadow was a once a member). Exiting with the subterranean and special "Dark Days" from the film of the same name earns the comp some extra credit, but the boom-bap-meets-Duane Eddy track does bring up an arguable point: that Reconstructed favors the deep, crafted, and cool side of Shadow's output over his more outgoing and heavily rap-based work. Still, it's a fine set, worth owning along with Endtroducing… while giving beat-friendly newcomers a very persuasive career-to-date overview. ~ David Jeffries

Rap/Hip-Hop - Released October 9, 2019 | Mass Appeal

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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released September 20, 2019 | Mass Appeal

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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released October 28, 2016 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

As a suburban California kid, DJ Shadow tended to treat hip-hop as a musical innovation, not as an explicit social protest, which goes a long way toward explaining why his debut album, Endtroducing....., sounded like nothing else at the time of its release. Using hip-hop, not only its rhythms but its cut-and-paste techniques, as a foundation, Shadow created a deep, endlessly intriguing world on Endtroducing....., one where there are no musical genres, only shifting sonic textures and styles. Shadow created the entire album from samples, almost all pulled from obscure, forgotten vinyl, and the effect is that of a hazy, half-familiar dream -- parts of the record sound familiar, yet it's clear that it only suggests music you've heard before, and that the multi-layered samples and genres create something new. And that's one of the keys to the success of Endtroducing.....: it's innovative, but it builds on a solid historical foundation, giving it a rich, multifaceted sound. It's not only a major breakthrough for hip-hop and electronica, but for pop music. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released January 1, 1998 | Universal-Island Records Ltd.

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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released July 7, 2017 | Mass Appeal Records II

DJ Shadow's 2016 full-length The Mountain Will Fall was a typically sprawling, cinematic affair for the veteran producer, who continued to demonstrate his prowess at creating moody beat-scapes while relying on fewer samples than in his past work. "Nobody Speak," a brash piece of futuristic hardcore hip-hop featuring Run the Jewels, made the biggest impact out of any of the album's tracks by far, so it's not a big surprise that its companion EP, The Mountain Has Fallen, focuses on high-profile collaborations. "Systematic," originally created for HBO comedy series Silicon Valley, features Nas reflecting on the corruption of the political system, while Shadow provides laser-like scratches and a simple, funky beat. Both artists sound all too comfortable working together, and their team-up feels natural. Danny Brown contributes typically fun, hair-raising verses to "Horror Show," and Shadow's backing track is appropriately dramatic and a bit unhinged, with towering horns and a beat which trudges steadily along and comes close to slipping off the rails. "Good News" abandons any sense of linearity whatsoever, with sporadic, flanged-out beats erupting from the speakers in fits and starts, and a couple of squirming synth lines barely holding it together. It'll likely alienate anyone who thought a more straightforward rap joint like "Systematic" was highly refreshing coming from Shadow, but for anyone excited by his more bugged-out side, this track will be a giddy shot of adrenaline. "Corridors" is a collaboration with Academy Award-winning film composer Steven Price, who adds orchestral flair to Shadow's slowly developing beat and chunky scratching. Just as it's bloomed to the point where it feels like it's going to reach a breathtaking climax, the track shorts out as if the file is corrupted and all of the subsequent data has been lost forever. Side by side, the four tracks don't seem to have much in common thematically, but the EP works as a sharp, invigorating sampler of Shadow's strengths. ~ Paul Simpson
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Electronic/Dance - Released July 13, 2018 | Mass Appeal Records II

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Electronic/Dance - Released January 1, 2011 | Universal-Island Records Ltd.

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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released January 1, 2004 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released December 31, 2018 | BlackHeyZeus

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Alternative & Indie - Released January 1, 2011 | Universal-Island Records Ltd.

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Electronic/Dance - Released January 1, 2011 | Universal-Island Records Ltd.

Proud to be a turntable throwback in an age of iPod mixers, DJ Shadow constructs his beats (and tracks, and mixes) from the ground up. The result is an album that sounds unlike any other, even though it's comprised of countless bits and pieces of vinyl history. The Less You Know, The Better, his fourth studio album and first in five years, also sounds closer to his classic Endtroducing..... than any of his others, as though Shadow's finally willing to embrace his career landmark instead of constantly play against type. It contrasts starkly with 2006’s The Outsider, which was heavily rap-based. (Here, only Posdnuos and Talib Kweli rhyme, and they're both on the same track.) Instead, Shadow focuses on plumbing the depths of his record collection, occasionally flashing and scratching like in his salad days, but just as often pulling slabs of forgotten wax -- metal riffs, piano balladry, bygone acid-rock burnouts, crystalline female folkies -- to state his case for him. As on Endtroducing....., his ear for interesting obscurities is nearly faultless, but he seems to have less patience than earlier in his career. The first seven tracks, each under three-and-a-half minutes, flit from style to style so quickly that heads will spin, and he doesn't quite connect the dots between tracks as well as he was doing in the mid-'90s. (Granted, anyone looking for a single to pull from the album has a clear winner, “Warning Call” featuring fellow Island Records artist Tom Vek.) Shadow certainly followed a tough road to get this album released: two singles previously released for the album faced samples-clearance issues and didn't make the final program (which makes it clear that this wasn't the exact album he had in mind originally). Except for the occasionally bumpy ride, though, The Less You Know, The Better is one of the most entertaining albums of the year, with countless moments of brilliance. Being a throwback means there aren't many like you, and the album positively shines compared to the rest of instrumental hip-hop in the 2000s and 2010s. In that sense, it proves the wisdom of the cover design, where a trio of cartoonish consumer-electronic devices attempt to whitewash the album title off a billboard. ~ John Bush
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Electronic/Dance - Released August 25, 2014 | Universal-Island Records Ltd.

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DJ Shadow in the magazine