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Friday, Nov. 3, 2006


DJ Shadow "The Outsider"

Whereas DJ Shadow's two previous full-lengths, "Endtroducing" (1996) and 2002's "Private Press," were largely instrumental affairs, mishmashing an array of obscure samples into electronic and hip-hop minisymphonies, "The Outsider" is his first stab at making a more conventional rap and pop album.

The Californian turntablist/producer has recruited several guest vocalists, but, despite Shadow's solid production, the collaborations often hinder more than help: A handful of MCs from the Bay Area's hyphy scene (a movement characterized by hardcore raping over hyperactive, twisted beats) are among the invitees. Keak Da Sneak offers the first such cut, sounding like a second-rate Cee-Lo (of Gnarls Barkley fame) on the jerky "3 Freaks." While musically the tracks differ from mainstream rap, the MCs cough out the same weak rhymes about girls, violence and lame cries of "DJ Shadow up in this mutha." The trend continues on the adult-pop of "You Made It," which features Stateless' Chris James doing a dead-on impression of Coldplay's Chris Martin. It makes "The Outsider" sound like DJ Shadow is imitating, not innovating.

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