DJ Shadow made a name for himself with “Endtroducing…,” his 1996 debut which flows so perfectly it’s hard to tell when one track ends and another begins. Six long years later, Shadow finally issued his official sophomore effort, “The Private Press.” Equally as moody as the first album, “Press” also showed Shadow could do more than just dark, instrumental hip-hop. Tracks like “Walkie Talkie” and “Mashin’ On the Motorway” revealed an appreciation for the cocky and the comical, respectively.
This week, DJ Shadow (Josh Davis) finally releases “The Outsider,” his third studio album in 10 years. It was two-thirds worth the wait.
“Outsider” sounds like a compilation instead of an album, which may have been Shadow’s ultimate goal: a desire to avoid being labeled a trip-hopper, hip-hopper or turntablist. It’s his first album to feature collaborations on nearly every track, with names such as David Banner, the Heliocentrics and E-40.
“Outsider” is well produced, but that’s not to say it’s a good album. Whereas his first two albums moved so effortlessly through the tracks, “Outsider” feels disjointed and confused. It’s as if Shadow threw all his songs in a bag, shook it up and let them spill out in no specific order onto the record. (For the worst in track progression, see “Broken Levee Blues” followed by “Artifact (Instrumental).”)