Shadow began work on Action Adventure on January 1, 2022, and the early tracks pushed him further into his compositional bag. “I didn’t want to write music that was formatted for vocalists. I wanted to write music that flexed different energies,” he says. Though he isn’t classically trained, he asked himself questions like “which chord progression would be most natural here, and which would be least predictable?” and worked according to the inner logic that felt right to him.
His rule for the record was simple: no compromises. “I’m entering my fourth decade doing this—what do I want to represent? I know that I don’t want to only make beats for some potential vocalist that I’ve never met, and who may not share my vision. I want this record to stand or fall on my own credentials.
For over 30 years, Josh Davis has expressed his passion, taste, and values through the music he creates as DJ Shadow. The name alone evokes a high watermark for instrumental hip-hop and composition. From his first masterpiece Endtroducing…, to the genre-hopping UNKLE release Psyence Fiction, to the otherworldly elegance of The Private Press and its iconic single “Six Days,” to his underrated Bay Area celebration The Outsider, his work in the ‘90s and first decade of the 2000s is as essential as it is hard-to-pin-down.
In the 2010s, Shadow released the sprawling The Less You Know, the Better, with its muscular forays into rock music, and closed the decade with The Mountain Will Fall and Our Pathetic Age, both very ambitious, risk-taking albums that boasted some of his best rap collaborations by working with Run the Jewels, Nas, and De La Soul, among others. If there’s a single red thread across this career, it’s his restless ear, always searching to rescue some forgotten gem from the dustbin of music history or a fresh blast of sound from the cutting edge.