Album of the Week: “Endtroducing…..” by DJ Shadow


Daniel’s Thought:

I was a conception (like everything else in this world) that mixed ambient forces into a trip-hop vortex. I am in no way one single piece, but more so merged elements. Jazz, funk, soul, rock and hip-hop are my ideals, but I stand for so much more.

My father DJ Shadow is someone I admire, but more so someone I emulate each and every day. People say instrumental hip-hop wouldn’t be anything like it is now without him, and I’m proud; I love him. My mother is the Akai MPC60, and although she is 16 years younger than my father, their love omits pointless age gaps.

Two years in the womb was the vast expanse of time it took for me to be introduced to this world, and in 1996 I was born. In a year that birthed an Ironman, ATLiens, Octagonecologyst’s, Firing Squads, Illadelph Halflives and reasonable doubt that spanned realms ‘n realities, I might have been the supreme being that shocked the world. All eyez were on me, or at least that’s what I think.

I have a varied mind, and more so than others. When someone asked me what my soul looks like, I responded with a swift jab. “I plod and I pluck with samples of engaging sound from The Flying Island to The People’s People. My organ donor twirls and ties me up with synth samples of gold over a complicated rendition of the Amen Break. When I build steam with a grain of salt I loop piano melodies with choir vocals and slip in funk over a blitzkrieg of drums. My stem long stem is my ambient side, with percussion bells and soft nylon stringed finger-picking; it’s a rush. Pekka Pohjola is always with me at midnight in this perfect world and her piano chords may be my greatest attribute.”

For all that I am, I try to stay humble, for I am only one little voice in the mass movement of hip-hop, instrumentation and music. However, I’m a driving force that can’t be stopped. I single-handedly birthed the careers of disc jockeys and producers, pushed millions to start collecting unique records, inspired creative output, and I constantly remind folks all around the globe that sampling and production is an art form. My three younger brothers are all compared to me, and it’s unfair, but they will never be looked at the way people look at me.

Influence is and always will be an important feature, and I guess I’m lucky that is the case.

I am Endtroducing…..

Gus’ Thought:

DJ Shadow’s 1996 album Endtroducing….. is an entertaining listen all the way through because of the variety and difference of each piece. No cut sounds alike, but as you let the album run from start to finish, the next track is always the natural progression of the previous arrangement. For example, the fast and assorted break beats in “The Number Song” are perfectly counter-balanced by the slower, funkier riffs of “Changeling/Transmission.” These seemingly smooth transitions are not just found from track to track, but within each song. “Stem/Long Stem/’Transmission 2’” runs for exactly 9:23, twisting and turning from one melody to another, putting the listener into an instrumental trance. It reminds me of Miles Davis’ 1960 classic Sketches of Spain in that I get completely lost in the music and am unable to tell where one piece ends and another begins. Similar to Davis’ compositions, Endtroducing….. becomes even more fascinating after learning the manner in which it was made.

DJ Shadow’s groundbreaking work stands alone because of his use of vinyl record samples and an Akai MPC60 sampler. Besides a few contributions from rappers Gift of Gab and Lyrics Born, the entire album from start to finish is sampled. In a certain sense, this could be viewed as theft. DJ Shadow ripped off other musician’s recording and called it his own. However, I see this more as an incredibly innovative celebration of the vinyl record, and of music as a creative process. When Endtroducing….. arrived on the scene, there was nothing like it. Yes, RZA made the beats for Wu-Tang Clan using a similar process, and he also changed the game in the way he made beats. Still, Endtroducing….. is a full length instrumental album made without instruments. Unlike RZA, DJ Shadow didn’t compose this album for people to rap over. It is difficult to listen to this album without thinking of the influence it had on how producers use samples to make music today.

The technology of making beats has changed drastically since DJ Shadow released Endtroducing…... Now, anyone can make a beat with samples and a snare hit on two and four with Garage Band or Fruity Loops. Everyone thinks they can make a beat and there are a lot more resources at one’s disposal to do so. I don’t think this is a bad thing. I admit it can be awkward when everyone you know thinks they’re the next DJ Khaled. Then again, you have to start somewhere and this advance in technology has made it possible for the creation of entirely new musical genres, and production styles. Without DJ Shadow’s use of the Akai MPC60 and the composition of Endtroducing….., the music scene and the technology used to produce albums would be completely different.

“Building Steam With a Grain of Salt”
“Stem/Long Stem/’Transmission 2′”
“Mutual Slump”

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2 thoughts on “Album of the Week: “Endtroducing…..” by DJ Shadow

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