Joshua Paul Davis (born June 29, 1972) better known as DJ Shadow is an American music producer, DJ and songwriter. He is considered a prominent figure in the development of instrumental hip hop and first gained notice with the release of his highly acclaimed debut album Endtroducing....., which was constructed entirely from samples. He has an exceptionally large personal record collection, with over 60,000 records.
DJ Shadow was experimenting with a four-track recorder while in high school in Davis, California, and began his music career as a disc jockey for the University of California, Davis campus radio station KDVS. During this period he was significant in developing the experimental hip hop style associated with the London-based Mo' Wax record label. His early singles, including "In/Flux" and "Lost and Found (S.F.L.)", were genre-bending works of art merging elements of funk, rock, hip hop, ambient, jazz, soul, and used-bin found records. Andy Pemberton, a music journalist writing for Mixmag, coined the term "trip hop" in June 1994 to describe Shadow's "In/Flux" single and similar tracks being spun in London clubs at the time. Though his music is hard to categorize, his early contributions were certainly important for alternative hip hop. He cited groups such as Kurtis Mantronik, Steinski, and Prince Paul as influences on his sample-based sound, further claiming that "lyrics (...) were confining, too specific". His music rarely features more than short clips of voices or vocal work.
During 1991-1992, DJ Shadow remixes were released on Hollywood BASIC, a short-lived rap/hip-hop subsidiary label of Hollywood Records. Notable amongst these is a 1992 compilation release titled "BASIC Beats Sampler", which features a remix of The Real Deal, a song by Lifers' Group, as well as a 12-plus-minute "Mega Mix" of the rest of the album, including tracks by west-coast underground hip-hop act, Raw Fusion and east-coast acts, Organized Konfusion and Zimbabwe Legit. Also in 1992, Shadow contributed scratching and production work to Sleeping with the Enemy, the controversial second release by rapper Paris.
Early in 1993, Shadow was a part of the creation of the Solesides underground hip-hop label, in conjunction with Blackalicious and Lyrics Born (whose stage name at the time was Asia Born). The first 12" release on this new imprint was titled "Entropy", with the A-side containing the Asia Born track "Send Them" and a dub rendition of the DJ Shadow track "Count and Estimate", and the entire B-side consisting of the 17-plus-minute title track. Rapper Gift of Gab is featured in the version of "Count and Estimate" that appears in Entropy. Shadow continued to participate in releases on the Solesides label for years to come, until the label was disbanded in 1996 in favour of Quannum Projects.
Also in 1993, Mo' Wax's James Lavelle contacted Shadow about releasing "In/Flux" on the fledgling imprint. The association with Mo' Wax was a productive one; his tracks "In/Flux" and "Lost and Found" made their way onto a number of releases over the next few years. Shadow also worked with DJ Krush during this period. On a 1995 visit to the Mo' Wax studios in London, England, Shadow was recruited to perform scratches on a James Lavelle and Tim Goldsworthy mix of the Massive Attack song Karmacoma.