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The Outsider

2.4 out of 5 stars 103 customer reviews

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Audio CD, September 19, 2006
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Editorial Reviews

The underground legend returns! Shadow's unparalleled musical contributions have and continue to play a crucial role in the development and mastering of genre blending music. His list of collaborations include works with Dr. Octagon, U.N.K.L.E., Thom Yorke, Cut Chemist and many more... ''The Outsider'' is a record that will confound those who believed they had Shadow pigeonholed. Working with several different vocalists, in styles spanning everything from hyphy, the Bay Area's newest hip hop hybrid, to folk; from aggressive hardcore rock to left-field alternative dance music, the album is an almost schizophrenic collection from an artist to whom loving music and making music are just two sides of the same coin. Long-term fans need have nothing to fear - his power to conjure and affect an emotion by collaging samples, voices and fragments of long-forgotten recorded dialogue remains undimmed.
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (September 19, 2006)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Universal
  • ASIN: B000HCO8IG
  • Average Customer Review: 2.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (103 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #140,812 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
DJ Shadow's newest release "The Outsider" proves itself to be the very definition of a mixed bag. In all honesty, I can't think of another release by a single artist that is as all over the map genre-wise as this CD is. Of course, comments by Shadow himself in advance of this release hinted at this being the case, but man if it doesn't make it a jarring listen. His other two proper albums felt like unified works meant to be listened to all at once, but this one feels like a poorly constructed mix CD. The first 3 tracks alone bear this out. The intro sets an ominous tone that gives way to almost sunny sounding by comparison soul of "This Time", which then transitions to the manic hip-hop of "3 Freaks". At that point most listeners will find themselves scratching their heads. I can respect an artist trying to expand his creative palette to include music he himself enjoys, but some cohesion would've surely improved the experience. I agree with the other reviewers saying rock fans will probably hate the rap and vice versa, so people considering buying the album should try before they buy.

I am a huge fan of "Endtroducing" and "Private Press", and echo the disappointment of others who waited 4 years to receive this album that is pretty much nothing like his other 2. That being said, expectations should never get in the way of reviewing music on its own terms, and that's what I'm attempting to do here. There are tracks that rise above the others, such as the aforementioned "This Time", which seems like his only attempt at resembling his earlier work, and it does so admirably.
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Format: Audio CD
Let's get one thing out of the way. This isn't an album. It's a collection of songs, much more in the tradition of, say, Quannum's "Spectrum," and more eclectic even than the first UNKLE album Shadow did. Where it fails is that it doesn't work as an album, and--unlike Shadow's previous two records--there are really a couple throwaway cuts here. Where it does work is that most of the material on it is just flat-out good. So I advise those who are slamming it and those who are about to do so to take another listen. There is some excellent material here.

The opening number has the usual Shadow intro cut mystique. The second cut, This Time, is a solid MoTown takeoff. From there the album goes into some well-produced hip hop numbers that could easily fit in with anything in the Top 40 if the guest MCs were a bit better known. These aren't as creative as Mashin' on the Motorway, and the beats lack the timeless, soulful beauty of earlier Shadow cuts, but they are solid and fun nonetheless, and prove that Shadow could be a regular on the radio if he wanted to be.

The middle of the album is where it suffers a bit. That punk-driven Artifact song, what is it really? Broken levee blues has some nice guitar work but something more probably could have been done with it. Backstage Girl is a pretty good bit of hip-hop storytelling but it probably shouldn't be 7 minutes long. What Have I Done has a beautiful, haunting arrangement but the arty spoken-word vocals are kitschy.

The latter stages of the album go into some poprock and a smoother hip-hop number that's straight outta Quannum (Enuff). The Chris James tracks are like UNKLE meets Coldplay. (From this reviewer's perspective, that's a good thing, although not everyone might think so.
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Format: Audio CD
Am I confused here? Did I just give DJ Shadow 1 star?

I sure did. I am not a "I like your old stuff better than your new stuff" zealot, but I have my limits. This is just terrible, piss-weak crunk trash. I really dont have anything else to say about this other than thank god that I can still turn to Diplo and RJD2 to help me forget i heard this.

Please DJ Shadow - come back to us and ditch this daarrrty soouuth crap!
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Format: Audio CD
I don't know about you, but when I heard that DJ Shadow was going to be branching out, making as he says "credible" rock, rap, folk, etc., I was pretty excited. Endtroducing... happened over a decade ago, after all, and one can only listen to "The Number Song" so many times. I thought The Private Press was a great departure, incorporating other sounds and styles while still sounding like Shadow, and his various side projects (notably UNKLE) have been mostly inspired.

So to say I was anticipating this CD would be an understatement. After all, who wouldn't want to hear a premier producer like Shadow apply his studio wizardry to some new styles? He has a knack for taking different genres and redefining them - I couldn't wait to hear Shadow's take on punk or mainstream hip-hop.

What I didn't expect was an aimless, underwhelming album. "The Outsider" is diverse, yes, and when done right, a diverse record can be great. So what if one cut is folk and the next cut is hip-hop? Good music is good music. There is something to be said for cohesion, however, and (judging from his posts) Shadow seems to think that we'll just pick and choose the cuts we want for our Ipod playlists and junk the rest of the album. I don't know about you, but I still dig a good full-length record, and the best records don't have filler just for filler's sake. To me, this is just an excuse for lazy sequencing and weak production.

And make no mistake, many of these cuts are weak. "Backstage Girl" is a half-baked idea that goes nowhere, and "Turf Dancing" sounds like a manufacturer's demo for a sequencing program. "The Tiger" recalls UNKLE the way Sum 41 recalls The Descendents (that is, a rehashing that pales in comparison).

There are a handful of tracks that hit the mark.
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