When Sacramento's DJ Shadow (aka Josh Davis) dropped his '96 debut, Endtroducing
, it was an eye-opener for those who thought hip hop required simply a 4/4 beat, some wickety-wiks and a rapper or two. Shadow so remarkably blew away hip-hop conventions that he brought the underground to the surface nearly overnight. While he has contributed a few remixes over the last few years in addition to U.N.K.L.E., a collaboration with Mo' Wax label head James Lavelle, a full-length has been eagerly anticipated. That's why The Private Press
, is such a welcome change from the glut of P. Diddy (who arrogantly claims to have "invented the remix") rip-offs. Utilizing his gift for scrounging records crates and finding gold on vinyl, Shadow has incorporated numerous clips from privately pressed records made by individuals at studios designed specifically for that purpose. After all, these are one-of-a-kind discs that no one else will ever be able to sample. The sound is vintage Shadow--minor key melodies peppered with inspired beats that range from loping street shuffles to crunked-up trance pounders. "Walkie Talkie" is so old-school that it might as well be strung with a pair of fat laces. "Monosylabik" finds Shadow at his studio geek best, composing an entire song out of one two-bar sample. The original two bars provide the beat while Shadow tweaks the sample over and over, coercing weird and wild noises from this teeny sliver of sound. A conceptual creator in a medium of representational bling-bling, DJ Shadow provides a beacon for a world of braggadocio and bullshit.