My dude sent me a link a few months ago announcing there was a new DJ Shadow album dropping sometime this year, but I had forgotten about it as soon as I clicked back into my inbox. It isn't that I'm anti-Shadow or any aged rebel, reformed backpacker type bullshit where I only give credit to his first few albums pre-Outsider, I just know from experience that expecting Shadow to only sound like the Shadow I started smoking pot to in high school is kind of a dick move.
Shadow was one of the first artists I became completely loyal for, but he's also one of the few artists where I didn't really get as pissed off as some people that he was trying new shit, exploring new sounds, entering different genres, standing inside a rotating sphere with seizure inducing graphics projected on it, etc.. He could do no wrong in my opinion, but he could certainly do something I didn't want to listen to more than once. But so what? As arbitrary as music tastes are, the Fuck does my negative opinion matter in the first place?
Then a year or so ago, a few friends and I went and peeped him at Park West in Chicago. A few of said friends ate some psychedelics and about thirty minutes into Shadow's set, asked if I was ready to throw up too. "Yes, I am considering vomiting, thank you for asking," I replied. It was so incredibly fast paced and not what I was expecting, the bmmtssbmmtss had seemingly overgrown the boom bap.
Even then, who gives a Fuck? One of my idols is branching out into waters where club kids wear pacifiers and guys wear neon striped socks over their manpris. Who am I to judge? We all know you can't get rich making underground hip hop beats off of uncleared samples bro bro. Good for him, I just can't keep up on that particular bpm bro bro.
What's funny is that we left, and all briefly discussed our disappointment at each of us turning into Captain Old Balls, but we weren't pissed off or anything, and besides, a few of our friends were walking on walls at that point.
So I got the new new on Sunday and put it in Monday morning on the way to work, which was also the first day of school out here, so rather than punching my steering wheel at the fucking insane amount of traffic, I took it as a sign to enjoy it if I could. Forty seconds into the second track and I knew this wasn't techno DJ Shadow, I knew this wasn't hyphy Shadow, no this shit was made especially for the patient and longtime fans of bap bap boom bap fucking heaters that respect the shit out of Shadow enough to try everything he throws at you. But what's hilarious, is that this shit is labeled as being his early works from 1992-1996, hell, read the fucking title: Total Breakdown: Hidden Transmissions From The MPC Era, 1992-1996.
This isn't a return to form or any of that gay cliche shit some assdicks use when talking about an album or an artist, no this shit feels just like his older chops BECAUSE THEY ARE HIS OLDER CHOPS. Not only is the Shadow chop shit dominating on every fucking track, his simple sampling of freshly simple samples is refreshing as Fuck, even from twenty years ago. For those who assumed this was a new album, they can hypothesize that maybe the traits he picked up while experimenting with the hyphy and the speed jungle techno cocaine music allowed him to hear shit from all sides. Regardless, Total Breakdown: Hidden Transmissions From The MPC Era, 1992-1996 feels like an instantly hypnotizing bapbapboombap where everything fits and everything kicks ass.
As a self proclaimed drumhead, the fact that the beats take the brunt of responsibility and screen time on Total Breakdown makes me fucking happy as Tim in a skinny jean shop where there are mirrors on the floor to peep how your ass looks from every angle. Shadows refocuses us back to when you took drums and a quick sample, and you made something ethereal and memorable out of it, lyrics would only get in the way, and if the beat sucked, the song sucked.
Total Breakdown, as much as I hate comparing how an album sounds to how it's fucking named, is just that. Dude polished something up without all the tricks and bloopy blorps and 778bpm shit and rappers I've never heard of, and just made an album especially for me, and from what I've read about it, all he had to do was go through some old scuzzy discs and find the ones he didn't hate.
Total Breakdown: Hidden Transmissions From The MPC Era, 1992-1996 is a fantastic fucking beat tape, and for older fans of Shadow, this one will feel like an inflated rubber glove dipped in cool lube wrapped around the loinz.
Being the beat queer that I am, Fast Rap Fanfare has to be my favorite fucking beat on the 99 track album, as its energy and crispness evoke that specific meter and stench of a bboy battle and it's fucking face scrunching, neck thwapping perfection. If Babe Ruth is played out at every battle, wait a few years until this track takes the cake (I hear it's tres leches bro bro).
I'd buy this one bro bros.