Beloved by beat junkies from Tokyo to Trieste, DJ Shadow was one of the pioneers of a new, geeky white-boy hip hop offshoot sound that for a brief period in the early ‘90s went by a name from which it subsequently tried hard to distance itself. Trip hop (whisper it), was the name, and Shadow, with his first releases on London’s Mo’Wax record label, was its goatee-bearded, hoodie-sporting poster boy.
His nine-minute track ‘In/Flux’, which appeared on one of the label’s early compilations, was a sample-strewn epic that cemented the American’s growing reputation as a West Coast producer to watch.
One of the cult Solesides crew from California that included the likes of Chief Xcel, Lyrics Born and Gift of Gab, Shadow helped define a new breed of skater- and stoner-friendly hip hop, with dense layers of beats that unravelled with each listen.
A love of DJing always informed his sound, though, and the funk and breaks of a vast record collection were sampled, cut up and spat out into new, often sparsely electronic forms. Indeed his first debut album, Endtroducing, lays claim to being the first album composed entirely of samples, with not a single original beat but still an entirely unique sound drawn from his precious turntables that stands up against anything of its ilk today.
Five studio albums and a handful of cult mixtapes with the equally-legendary DJ Cut Chemist later, and Shadow is in the midst of a world tour ahead of the release of a retrospective of his work Reconstructed: The Definitive DJ Shadow.
A predictably beautifully presented box set with no less than seven CDs, a DVD and a 12-inch it no doubt deserves its own tour, which is where All Basses Covered comes in.
Whistle-stop it might be, covering Mexico City, Bogotá, Santiago and Buenos Aires in a week, but in the middle of this South American frenzy stands the show at Cine Joia, promising a lesson in the outer-reaches of DJing – indeed, of hip hop as a whole, from one of the past masters, that will draw underground music fans from far beyond the state border.