Beat-maker DJ Shadow helped pioneer the development of instrumental hip-hop.
Beat-maker DJ Shadow helped pioneer the development of instrumental hip-hop. His 1996 full-length, debut album, "Endtroducing ... ," was the first to use only sampled sounds taken from his extensive record collection — more than 60,000 albums. Claiming that "lyrics ... were confining, too specific," he rarely features more than short clips of vocals in his music.
Inspired by early hip-hop, Shadow eventually turned to the heyday of crews such as DJ Eric B. and MC Rakim, Ultramagnetic MCs and Public Enemy — groups that prominently featured deejays.
Shadow's 2011 "The Less You Know, the Better" is a genre-hopping mixtape. There's old-school hip-hop ("Back to Front"), riff-shredding heavy metal ("Border Crossing," "I Gotta Rokk"), pastoral soul ("I've Been Trying") and eerie dubs.
DJ Shadow will perform at 8 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 30, at the Historic Ashland Armory, 208 Oak St., Ashland. Ashland DJ Golden Toast will open the show. Tickets cost $22 in advance and are available at Music Coop in Ashland, Bad Ass Coffee and 619 Clothing in Medford, Listen Here and Dragon's Lair in Grants Pass, www.ticketswest.com or by calling 800-992-8499.
Born Joshua Paul Davis in 1972, Shadow was experimenting with beats and breaks on a four-track recorder while attending high school in Davis, Calif. Later, he began his music career as a disc jockey for the University of California at Davis radio station, KDVS. Today, he is a successful music producer, deejay and songwriter.
It was at UC Davis that Shadow co-founded his Solesides label. Through the college's radio station, he released his "Hip-Hop Reconstruction" mixtapes in '91 and his 17-minute symphony, "Entropy," in '93. The tracks spread quickly through the hip-hop underground, garnering attention from the London-based Mo' Wax label.
Andy Pemberton, a music journalist writing for Mixmag, coined the term "trip-hop" in '94 to describe Shadow's "In/Flux" and similar tracks being spun in London clubs.
Shadow's early singles — "In/Flux," "Lost and Found (S.F.L.)" — were genre-bending works of art that merged elements of funk, rock, hip-hop, ambient, jazz and soul, along with used records found in sales bins. Though the music was hard to categorize, it was an important contribution to alternative hip-hop.
Between 1999 and 2006, Shadow released six albums. From 2007 to 2009, he released three volumes of "The 4-Track Era Collection," a series of his earliest samples. He also collaborated with hip-hop DJ Cut Chemist and created a series of mixes that fused soul, funk and rock within the framework of using only 45-rpm records.