DJ Shadow
The Private Press


4.5
superb

Review

by Nick Butler EMERITUS
June 21st, 2007 | 45 replies


Release Date: 2002 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Very nearly as good as its more famous predecessor, The Private Press is one of the more essential hip-hop documents of the 21st century.

6 years. 6 years is how long it took for Joshua Davis to follow up his genre-defining masterpiece, Endtroducing.... Faced with a choice between rushing out a follow-up to capitalize on the sleeper success of his full-length debut, or wait it out until he had an album of original material worthy of following it, he chose to wait. And wait. And wait.

It was a long, long wait. Endtroducing... had, along with Massive Attack's Mezzanine, effectively killed trip-hop by being so perfect that most realized it would never be bettered, and those who didn't were ignored by a market that refused to settle for second-best. It was, of course, also the first ever album made completely from samples (or at least the first to chart), which was a major wake-up call to the DJ community. Endtroducing... was such an event that not even projects like UNKLE's Psyence Fiction and Brainfreeze (with Cut Chemist) were enough. We needed another Shadow album.

But, like the Grolsch man says, good things come to those who wait. So when, in 2002, The Private Press appeared, it was a big deal. MoWax had long been usurped as the coolest record label in the world, but Shadow's name still had a great pull. Here he was, returning to save the genre he'd both defined and destroyed.

Except it didn't quite work that way. If there's one thing The Private Press isn't, it's Endtroducing.... Part 2 - which, in retrospect, was a very good thing. Many were shocked at just how playful and indebted to the 80s a lot of this album is - "Right Thing/GDMFSOB", "Mashin' On The Motorway", and "You Can't Go Home Again", for instance. They go right back to the roots of the art-form we now call hip-hop. After the dense, intensely emotional, almost progressive Endtroducing..., tracks like that were total leftfielders. And yes, The Private Press initially had to face criticisms of not being a 'proper' successor to Endtroducing.... No, it's not as good as the debut. But who gives a shit? Endtroducing... was a one-off. You know that, I know that, DJ Shadow knows that. The Private Press is about moving on.

And yes, the dense, emotional tracks have changed, too. "Blood On The Motorway" is the track that sounds closest to the material on Shadow's debut, being a sparse piano-driven ballad that picks up speed and texture as it goes along - before stopping at the 4 minute mark, and returning for another run-through, this time with vocals, something Shadow avoided on Endtroducing.... It sounds and feels like a soul ascending to heaven, and is the most perfectly realized track DJ Shadow has ever worked on. When I die, I want this played at my funeral. Seriously.

Aside from that, the single "Six Days" is an Eastern-flavoured rumination on the passing of time, warning that 'tomorrow never comes until it's too late'. It bears almost no resemblance to Shadow's earlier work, except in the overall mood. (It also bears no resemblance to the other version of "Six Days" - the mash-up of "Walkie Talkie", "Six Days", and Mos Def's guest vocals that became a radio staple for about 3 weeks back in '02.) Neither do both "Letter From Home" tracks, which bookend the record and suggest some sort of concept to the record.

The biggest shocker, though, is "Walkie Talkie". Shadow had never bragged before, but here's a track telling us 'I'm a bad, buh-buh-BAD motherfuckin' DJ. This is why I walk and talk this way!' It's loose. It's funky. It's fun. It's still mindblowing. He's entitled to brag, obviously, but it's still not something you would have expected Shadow to do.

Maybe Davis felt Endtroducing... wasn't direct enough, or that it was too uptight and serious. In any case, it definitely feels like he set out to make a record that would connect on a more simple emotional level, while not taking itself too seriously. He succeeds on both counts. The Private Press doesn't quite hang together as a record as well as Endtroducing... does, but it's still DJ Shadow operating at his peak, and it's still an essential album.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
MeowMeow
June 21st 2007


662 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Wonderful review. "Blood On The Motorway" is my second favorite DJ Shadow song (right next to "Stem/Long Stem", but that's just my favorite song ever). This album is more fun than Endtroducing... but just not as... wonderful.

FlawedPerfection
Emeritus
June 21st 2007


2806 Comments


Awesome. I really want this album, seeing as the live album has a lot of songs from this and I'm not entirely sure what I'm listening to. Once I get this and give it a few fair listens I'll get around to the live album.

Jom
Staff Reviewer
June 21st 2007


2690 Comments


An excellent album by far, and I agree, it's anything but an Entroducing.... II.

The Jungler
June 21st 2007


4827 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I haven't listened to this in forever. Good stuff though, Shadow rules.
Nice review.

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
June 21st 2007


15743 Comments


I don't really like Mezzanine that much, killing Trip Hop for me, but I've heard about DJ Shadow, maybe if I have some spare change I'll pick up Endtroducing.

Good review.

EDIT: Jom, Nice Avatar.This Message Edited On 06.21.07

MeowMeow
June 21st 2007


662 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I honestly haven't heard Mezzanine =/

IsItLuck?
Emeritus
June 21st 2007


4927 Comments


great review Iai, I think I will check this out since the only other DJ Shadow in my collection is "Endtroducing...."

plane
Staff Reviewer
June 22nd 2007


6099 Comments


great review Iai, I think I will check this out since the only other DJ Shadow in my collection is "Endtroducing...."


pixiesfanyo
June 22nd 2007


1223 Comments


IMABAD

BAD!

muddaFUCKIN' DJJJ

DAT is WHY i WALK and TALK THIS WAYYY

pixiesfanyo
June 22nd 2007


1223 Comments


lemme beat box lemme beat box lemme beat box lemme beat box

ohcleverhansyou
June 22nd 2007


885 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I have not heard a better DJ Shadow song than "Blood on the Motorway." It alone validates this CD for me. I'm surprised this hadn't been reviewed yet.

Apocalyptic Raids
June 22nd 2007


810 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

excellent review of an excellent album

Iai
Emeritus
June 22nd 2007


3553 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

It had been reviewed, by me on my secondary account. I'm just moving it over because, well, having a second account is lame. I had it for writing reviews that weren't on the same level as my Iai reviews were at the time, but realistically I have a job and a girlfriend and bills to pay and I'll never be able to spend three or four days on a review again. It's not as if you need to put that much effort in, anyway. I've discovered the art of making notes while you're listening to the album.

Apocalyptic Raids
June 22nd 2007


810 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I've discovered the art of making notes while you're listening to the album.

That though had never even occurred to me. Good idea.



rustysurf84
June 22nd 2007


327 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I thought this review looked familar Iai! Anywho, good review. Walkie Talkie is pretty funny and funky and everyone needs to hear Blood On The Motorway, considering its incredible haunting beauty.

FlawedPerfection
Emeritus
June 22nd 2007


2806 Comments


I've discovered the art of making notes while you're listening to the album.


Really? I write the whole review while I listen to the album.

ohcleverhansyou
June 22nd 2007


885 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I only make mental notes, half of which I forget when I write the review.

The Jungler
June 22nd 2007


4827 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

[quote=flawed]Really? I write the whole review while I listen to the album.[/quote]Yeah, same here.

plane
Staff Reviewer
June 22nd 2007


6099 Comments


Ditto.

Skyler
June 22nd 2007


1084 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Man, I haven't listened to this album in forever; kind of forgot about it. Thanks for piquing my interest again.



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