Review Summary: Shadow trades in obscure samples for mainstream rap. Indie loses their collective minds.1 of 1 thought this review was well written
Whatever stance you take on creationism and the science that seeks to prove that belief wrong, it does not impact the existence of evolution and change. Things all around us are changing; I'd make a list but this isn't about things changing, its about a fairly aged DJ trying to represent his home and contribute to the movement occurring there, the Bay Area Hyphy movement. For those of you who are unfamiliar with "hyphy" as I'm sure most of you are; hyphy, having many definitions, in this case is hardcore rap from the San Francisco Bay Area. The Movement has been going on since the late 90's and is now stronger than ever due to the rising of rap to the mainstream. Evolution was mentioned earlier in this article and it ties in to the changing landscape of music that exists. As a Dj, Josh Davis can't help but listen to what music is happening, and hyphy is the haps. His response? An album with various elements, some hardcore rap, atmospheric instrumentals, and remixes.
From the beginning introduction it seems like the next Shadow album; telling the beginning of a story and setting up the rest of the album to be pure atmosphere, samples, piano, and drums right? Well This Time
sort of keeps the illusion intact, providing music and sound that doesn't seem too far out of the reach of being on this album this, new DJ Shadow which is full of samples and atmosphere and will be Endtroducing II...
HOLD IT DOWN FOR THE BAY
So much for Endtroducing II, one of the albums main singles 3 Freaks
features two of the bay's biggest rappers, rough-voiced Keak da Sneak and smoother-sounding (but I guess anyone is compared to Keak) Turf Talk rap on top of Shadow beats. This song doesn't suffer from being a rap song, nor does it suffer from being under the microscope of many Shadow fans expecting something different; but while it doesn't suffer, the average lyrics and repetitive use of bay lingo ("go stupid", "go dumb") make it sound like this is going to be a disappointment.
An advantage this has and what makes this album work is the catchiness that the songs contain. It is rough and the raps are tough, but damn some of these new-fangled songs are catchy. In particular, Enuff
is the ultimate highlight of this album. a piano sample playing in the background duet with the smooth voices of Q-Tip and Lateef the Truth Speaker makes for an ideal track to be played at the club, emphasizing smoothness over gritty on-the-streets sounds.
Rap and Hip not are not the only kinds of music sounding on this album, there are hints of old shadow seen in the instrumental tracks, also some tracks which mix real life events and reflecting and remembering them through samples from the scene. The track that displays that is "Broken Levee Blues", a song about the Katrina flood in New Orleans. Played mainly with blues guitar and samples of people being asked about it, people asking for help. The blend of real people talking and progressing guitar make for a melancholy track, but one that is enjoyable and forms a sort of ambiance not highlighted by the album otherwise.
While this album has its advantages and sweet tracks, there are those which bring the album down and give way to some claims that this is the beginning the a musical and creative decline for Davis. Backstage Girl
doesn't provide the easy or enjoyable listen. A tale of sleaze forged from the Internet (lol) spanning 7 minutes where it seems the beginning occurs in the beginning and the middle of the song. After a somewhat amusing story of lust on teh internetz, one can't help but feel that the 7 minutes could have been spent doing something better, such as listening to any other song on the album.
In addition to long songs that don't really go anywhere, the number of tracks and the repetitiveness of songs also hinders this album from being as good as it could have been. The Outsider does contain a various amount of material coming from many kinda of music, but the track listing, putting similar sounding songs next to each other sort of takes away from the variety.
The Outsider, it really does make Josh seem like this. On the inside people are looking for something similar, something that clicks with them and makes Shadow's discography come together full circle and sound alike. On the outside, he is progressing and growing with the music he enjoys and incorporates into his albums.