Trip-hop, Europe’s alternative of choice in the second half of the ‘90s, can, perhaps, be defined as the merging of hip-hop and electronica until neither genre is recognizable. DJ Shadow’s Endtroducing…, however, so constantly changes pace that such a definition is rendered insufficient. Tracks like “Changeling” prove that sampling can be art, not just commerce (a murky line America’s mainstream Hip-Hop acts continue to walk). And DJ Shadow is indeed an accomplished changeling, shifting from jazz aficionado to film composer to magnum turntablist in a matter of moments. “Building Steam with a Grain of Salt” is constructed with a collage of stuttering beats, organ riffs and bits of sampled narration while “What Does Your Soul Look Like” and “Midnight in a Perfect World” blend smooth, loungy jazz into seemingly fluid original pieces. Similarly, the cinematic “Stem/Long Stem” builds several classically-arranged movements around a sample of Nirvana’s “Love Suite,” creating an ominous and multi-textured masterpiece of hip-hop postmodernism. According to Shadow, the album “reflects a lifetime of vinyl culture.” Tracks like “Mutual Slump,” which features a sample of Björk’s “Possibly Maybe” and a young girl’s naïve confession (“Came to America, saw Xanadu, that’s all I wanted to, rollerskate”), insist it reflects a whole lot more.
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