DJ Shadow (born Josh Davis) is widely credited as a key figure in developing the experimental instrumental hip-hop style associated with the London-based Mo’ Wax label. Inspired by hip-hop’s early years, he then grew to absorb the heyday of crews like Eric B. & Rakim, Ultramagnetic MCs, and Public Enemy; groups which prominently featured DJs in their ranks.
Josh “Shadow” Davis had already been fiddling around with making beats and breaks on a four-track recorder while he was in high school in the NorCal cow-town of Davis, but it was during college that he co-founded his own Solesides label as an outlet for his original tracks. Hooking up with Davis’ few b-boys (including eventual Solesides artists Blackalicious and Lyrics Born) through the college radio station, Shadow began releasing the Hip-Hop Reconstruction mix tapes in 1991 and pressed his 17-minute beat-head symphony “Entropy” in 1993. His tracks spread widely through the DJ-strong hip-hop underground, eventually catching the attention of Mo’ Wax.
Shadow’s first full-length, “Endtroducing…”, was released in late 1996 to immense critical acclaim in Britain and America. “Preemptive Strike,” a compilation of early singles, followed in early 1998. Later that year, Shadow produced tracks for the debut album by U.N.K.L.E., a long-time Mo’ Wax production team that gained superstar guests including Thom Yorke (of Radiohead), Richard Ashcroft (of the Verve), Mike D (of the Beastie Boys), and others.
His next project came in 1999, with the transformation of Solesides into a new label, Quannum Projects. Nearly six years after his debut production album, the proper follow-up, “The Private Press,” was released in June 2002. The following year Shadow released a mix album, “Diminishing Returns,” and in 2004 he released a live album and DVD, “Live! In Tune and on Time.” In 2006 he released another long awaited full-length album “The Outsider,” which featured rising Bay Area Hyphy rappers including Keak Da Sneak and E-40. “The Outsider” also featured a single with Q-Tip (of A Tribe Called Quest), which led to Shadow’s first appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman.