DJ Shadow life and biography

DJ Shadow picture, image, poster

DJ Shadow biography

Date of birth : 1972-06-29
Date of death : -
Birthplace : San Jose, California, U.S.
Nationality : American
Category : Arts and Entertainment
Last modified : 2012-01-31
Credited as : D.J., Music producer, songwriter

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Joshua Paul "Josh" Davis better known as DJ Shadow is an American music producer, DJ and songwriter. He is considered a prominent figure in the development of instrumental hip hop and first gained notice with the release of his highly acclaimed debut album Endtroducing....., which was the first album to be recorded using only sampled sampled sounds. He has an exceptionally large personal record collection, with over 60,000 records.

DJ Shadow's debut album, Endtroducing, cemented his standing as one of the foremost instrumental hip-hop, trip-hop, and "techno" artists of the 1990s. Spin magazine included Endtroducing in its 20 Best Albums of 1996 list, and the release is serving as an example of what the future of pop music may sound like within the realm of mainstream music. Shadow is considered an innovator, along with DJ Krush, the Aphex Twin, Dr. Octagon, Tranquility Bass, and DJ Spooky, for creating personal compositions that use the entire history of music as material.

Since DJ Shadow's music is instrumental and comprised solely of hundreds of obscure, unrecognizable musical samples, it poses a dilemma for those who want to label it. Shadow is adamant about the fact that his music is hip-hop music. He told Vibe's Andrea Duncan, "Hip-hop is about eliminating genre barriers in music," and told Details magazine, "Hip-hop used to represent everything from Kraftwerk to the Rolling Stones to James Brown. It was about innovation at any cost. It's ironic that people now think ... we don't need any more innovation. Of course we do."

DJ Shadow, born Josh Davis in 1972, was raised in a middle-class family in the rural suburb of Davis, CA, where he took piano lessons and wanted to study drums. He heard his first hip-hop album, Grandmaster Flash's The Message, at the age of ten when it played over his little clock-radio cube. He immediately rolled over and pressed "record" on his tape recorder just as his parents were entering his room to say goodnight. He told Spin's Stephen Stickler, "You can hear me on the tape going, 'Shh, Shh' (to his parents). That song was the most direct form of communication I'd ever heard and it may sound corny, but it changed my life." He began mixing by the age of 12.

Although Shadow was living in the proximity of the college town where independent guitar bands like True West and Thin White Rope had created a legacy, he remained devoted to hip-hop through a steady stream of new record releases. His earliest influences were Afrika Bambaata, Flash, Steinski, Latin Rascals, Mantronik, and Prince Paul. In addition to the beat and sound of hip-hop, Shadow liked the social and philosophical tenants of the music. He told Mills, "Hip-hop used to represent unity through music. When Bambaata played, he was called 'the peacemaker'."

Shadow was already scratching and mixing by the time he enrolled at University of California-Davis, and in 1989--following the success of the Beastie boys and Public Enemy--at the age of 17, Shadow chose his moniker and began pursuing his own vision of hip- hop. His first record, "Lesson 4," appeared in 1991 on the Hollywood Basic label, which was a subsidiary of Disney. Shadow's work for Hollywood Basic entailed "promo only" records or "vinyl only" and "compilation only," which rendered it obscure.
Shadow was part of a generation of people who fell in love with hip-hop's "let's change the world" philosophy, and when it spiralled down into boastful gangsta rap, he and others began to forge new inroads by founding their own small labels, playing underground hip-hop on college stations and pirate radio, starting 'zines and internet connections, creating websites, and releasing 12" singles. Shadow produced mixes for the San Francisco radio station KMEL between 1987 and 1991, and in 1992 he scratched on Oakland-based rapper Paris's "Sleeping with the Enemy" track.

In 1991 the English DJ James Lavelle, known as U.N.K.L.E., discovered Shadow's vinyl EP "Zimbabwe Legit." Lavelle founded the Mo' Wax label with the intention of specializing in acid jazz, hip-hop avant garde, and abstract techno music. Lavelle and Shadow met and agreed that modern music needed more breathing room to grow and expand. In 1993 when Mo' Wax released Shadow's "In/Flux," both Shadow and Mo' Wax were given rave reviews.

Shadow then founded his own rap-oriented label, Solesides, with Jeff "Zen" Chang, which issued his "Entropy" release. In 1995 Mo' Wax released several more Shadow EPs, most notably "What Does Your Soul Look Like," as Shadow was remixing and producing for DJ Krush, Lateef the Truth Seeker, Blackalicious, and the Roots. Other Soleside artists include The Invisible Scratch Pickles, Mixmaster Mike, Apollo, ShortKut, Q-Bert, Peanut Butter Wolf, Dan "The Automator" Nakamura, and Dr. Octagon.
In spite of his early foray into scratching and mixing, the low- key Shadow didn't perform before a live audience until 1993. James Lavelle taught him how to "read a crowd," and Shadow discovered that he enjoyed surprising his audience. He told Mills, "My favorite thing is doing the opposite of what I think the crowd is expecting....If I look out and see a bunch of hip-hop headz ... I'll play, oh, Black Sabbath's "Wall of Sleep".

Shadow spent six months in preproduction for Endtroducing, which represents the culmination of his knowledge of records, hip-hop culture, and technical artistic ability. The songs reflect his mood at the time they were conceived and created, and no one song was completed before he started the next, a process akin to a writer working on many chapters of a book at once instead of following a progression.
Unlike most hard-core rappers or hip-hop artists, Shadow is white, from the suburbs, and he's popular in England. The term "trip-hop" was first applied to Shadow's "In/Flux" single by English fans.
Endtroducing includes choruses of angels, cello solos, pipe organs, haunted, moaning voices, pipe organs, and live drummers. With the exception of rap-inspired "The Number Song," Shadow once again surprised his audience by delivering organic, urban classical music culled from thousands of dime-store and used record store finds. He told Rolling Stone's Josh Kun, "You're not contributing anything to the genre by putting out a record that sounds just like somebody else. All you're doing is weighing it down.

Shadow keeps his musical sources a mystery and never lifts samples from bootlegs, compilations, or reissues. He sculpts songs out of layers and layers of sampled instruments as well as other interesting sound fragments, most of which he processes, loops, and rearranges beyond recognition. He is content to remain in his hometown and isn't hungry for fame. As he said to Cheo Hodari Coker of the Los Angeles Times, "I just want to be remembered as someone who make a difference, even if my name isn't on everybody's lips."

The Outsider album was released on 18 September 2006. A special edition CD box set was also released containing The Outsider, the album on CD and a DVD entitled Tour Visuals. The Outsider, which prominently featured several artists from the local San Francisco Bay Area hyphy hip hop movement, got a mixed welcome among Shadow's fans. Responding to criticisms, the DJ/producer explained on his blog why he made no apologies: "Repeat Endtroducing over and over again? That was never, ever in the game plan. Fuck that. So I think it's time for certain fans to decide if they are fans of the album, or the artist."

DJ Shadow has also collaborated with fellow DJ Cut Chemist. Together they have created three popular mixtapes entitled Brainfreeze, Product Placement, and the recent The Hard Sell. These mixes fuse jazz, funk, and soul in the framework of a cohesive concept. He has also collaborated with several other artists, including Blackalicious, Zack de la Rocha, Keak Da Sneak, Mos Def, David Banner, and Dr. Octagon, an alter ego of Kool Keith.

-Endtroducing..... (1996)
-Preemptive Strike (1998)
-The Private Press (2002)
-The Outsider (2006)
-The Less You Know, The Better (2011)

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