A Taste Test of Style
In September of this year, DJ Shadow released his fourth studio album The Less You Know, the Better on Verve Records. The prolific trip hop, electronic, and instrumental hip hop legend forges a distinctive style on this album, using samples that range from Offenbach to Miles Davis. The Less You Know, the Better samples such a wide variety of genres that it seems like DJ Shadow considered each individual track a larger sample for the whole album. This wide assortment of musical styles provides listeners with many different entry points to appreciate the album, which constantly leaves the listener wondering what the progressive artist’s intentions were behind each track.
One of DJ Shadow’s strongest attributes on this album is his ability to stray from his usual musical style while simultaneously embodying his telltale panache. Tracks like “I’ve Been Trying” show his ability to evoke a driving energy in a laidback tone, complete with lyrical flute lines and tasteful sampling. “Warning Call” sounds more like a track by The Killers with Tom Vek’s vocals, though there are little signs of DJ Shadow’s mark on the track. “I Gotta Rokk” and “Border Crossing” also lean toward the instrumental rock genre, displaying DJ Shadow’s ability to explore mixing music out of his comfort zone. “Back to Front” and the short burst of “Going Nowhere” touch on DJ Shadow’s older style of music that has established the artist as one of the electronic genre’s dominant heavyweights. His hip hop roots prove strong in “Stay the Course,” which features Talib Kweli and De La Soul’s Posdnuos.
The Less You Know, the Better is an album for fans of Endtroducing and breakbeat enthusiasts alike. It is a mixtape of musicianship across a broad spectrum of genres, showing DJ Shadow’s progression as a timeless artist.