Music Review: DJ Shadow - The Less You Know, The Better

This is DJ Shadow’s fourth album, his first release of original material since The Outsider in 2006.  As with his other albums, The Less You Know… defies your expectations of what hip-hop (or turntablism/funk/whatever) should be.  Like DJ Shadow’s earlier work, this album relies heavily on production wizardry and choice music samples, which cover a broad range of time periods and musical styles.  

When asked about the album’s meaning, Shadow explained that the themes are based upon the influence of technology, and about what he felt was the “aggressive marketing” of technology in modern times (the cover shows a smartphone painting the title on a billboard).  He also explained the difficulty for an artist to get attention for his/her efforts, by saying “It’s really hard to get people to pay attention if all you’re doing is putting out an album. It only matters to people if you’re wearing a meat dress, or slagging off your peers, or generally behaving like an ass.  So it’s satire, and I’m the butt of the joke.”

Some fans and critics have described the album as weak or unfinished, due to the in-cohesive flow of the album.  Through the ups and downs of the record, DJ Shadow explores many different styles, from the heavy-metal guitar riffs of “Border Crossing” and “I Gotta Rokk”, to the dusty acoustic grooves of “I’ve Been Trying”, reminiscent of Clutchy Hopkins (another great artist, who some believe may actually be Shadow himself).  “Sad and Lonely” and “Redeemed” sound like soulful Moby B-sides, while “Tedium” and “Run For Your Life” bring together the frantic jungle rhythms, guitar riffs, and spacey sound effects that DJ Shadow twists together with his own style .  Despite not having a continuous energy, I think this album definitely has some good tracks and it’s worth some critical listening.

The Less You Know, The Better - ALBUM AVAILABLE NOW @ DJSHADOW.COM by djshadow

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