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Through the Decades

by | Feb 20, 2024 | Alumni Profiles, Spring 2024

DJ Shadow, a.k.a. Josh Davis ’95, emerged from KDVS radio as one of the most influential names in sample-based music and independent hip-hop. Nearly 30 years later, DJ Shadow continues his run as one of hip-hop’s most progressive artists with a new album, Action Adventure, released in October 2023 through Mass Appeal Records. The largely instrumental album harkens to such early work as his debut, 1996’s Endtroducing, a dazzling sound collage built entirely on samples and listed by Rolling Stone among its greatest 500 albums of all time.

At UC Davis, he majored in rhetoric and communication and worked at KDVS. There, he met a crew that formed Solesides/Quannum, a hip-hop label and collective of artists. Fellow members are also shining in the international spotlight. Joseph “Jazzbo” Patel ’94 won both a Grammy and Academy award as the director of the 2021 music documentary Summer of Soul. Tom “Lyrics Born” Shimura continues to rock crowds around the world with his funky rap styles and hosts an online cooking show called Dinner in Place.

Action Adventure pushes DJ Shadow’s acclaimed production techniques and mastery of moods to new heights. Case in point: The song “Fleeting Youth (An Audible Life)” sonically represents an entire life cycle in three-and-a-half minutes. Now, DJ Shadow will spend a chunk of 2024 on tour in support of Action Adventure. He heads to Europe in March for a string of shows in Germany, France, the United Kingdom and a sold-out concert in Ireland.

“I wanted to write music that flexed different energies,” DJ Shadow told Spin prior to the album’s release. “This is about my relationship to music. My life as a collector and curator. All my records and tapes, and no one else’s.”