DJ Shadow is arguably one of the most influential figures on both the electronic music and hip hop scenes, having created some of the most innovative albums of his time.
Shadow, also known as Josh Davis, began experimenting with four track recorders while attending high school in Davis, CA. Upping his game as he went to college at UC Davis, DJ Shadow began hosting a radio show on campus radio station KDVS. While there, he began crafting his experimental sound and releasing game-changing material on the London-based Mo’ Wax label. Serious genre-bending tracks like “In/Flux” or “Lost and Found (S.F.L.)” merged the sounds of hip hop, funk, rock and roll, ambient, jazz and soul music and began to push Shadow onto a much more global audience. In 1994, Mixmag coined the term “trip-hop” while describing the sounds on Shadow’s tracks, and the term has spawned an expansive catalog of acts who have followed in his footsteps.
DJ Shadow’s first album, Endtroducing….., was released in 1996 with high acclaim in the hip hop and turntablism universes and was eventually accepted by the Guinness Book of World Records as the “First Completely Sampled Album.” Conceptual work like this was also used to produce UK trip hop group Unkle’s first album, which included appearances by Thom Yorke of Radiohead, Mike D of the Beastie Boys, and Jason Newstead of Metallica. Almost six years after his debut album, Shadow dropped The Private Press, which included the highly infectious “Six Days,” a track that was widely featured in mixes and media of the time.
After another four years, he went on to release his third studio album, The Outsider with yet another game-changing move up his sleeve: prominently featuring several artists of the Bay Area-based hyphy movement. With mixed reviews coming in from his devoted audience, he answered with, “Repeat Endtroducing over and over again? That was never, ever in the game plan. F*ck that. So I think it’s time for certain fans to decide if they are fans of the album, or the artist.” Affirming himself as an original artist, Shadow dropped another incredibly diverse album in 2011, The Less You Know The Better. Shadow has influenced artists such as Pretty Lights, Vibesquad, and Gramatik, and will continue to stay relevant on the music scene for years to come.