Endtroducing..... is the debut album of American music producer DJ Shadow, released in November 1996 on the Mo' Wax label.
The album was made after a period where Shadow released three successful singles on the same label — "In/Flux", "Lost and Found (S.F.L.)", and "What Does Your Soul Look Like". In his words, Endtroducing was "the fourth and final chapter in a series of pieces...with a certain sound, a certain tone, a certain atmosphere". This inspired the album's name, as it marked the conclusion of Shadow's Mo' Wax series but served as his big debut.
Endtroducing is renowned for its revolutionarily liberal and eclectic use of sampling — everything from Björk to Metallica to Prince of Darkness to Twin Peaks to Giorgio Moroder gets a spin. While the public consensus shifts between "fully sample-based" and "almost fully sample-based", the album has received a Guinness World Record for being the "first completely sampled album".
To make the album, Shadow worked with an Akai MPC60 sampler, a Technics SL-1200 turntable, an Alesis ADAT tape recorder, and his extremely large collection of LPs (over 60,000). He found recurring aspects of the album to be genre variability between songs and a recurring concept of self-contemplation onset by his own bout with depression at the time of production.
The album was released to critical acclaim, being celebrated as one of the greatest albums of the year and the decade, and certainly a project with nigh-unparalleled staying power in the instrumental hip hop genre, as Shadow's innovative sampling techniques served to be highly influential to future generations of producers.
It is also seen as a landmark album in the genre of instrumental hip hop. The album was also included on TIME's list of 100 timeless and essential albums. It is compared with albums such as The Avalanches' Since I Left You since both are seen as crowning achievements of plunderphonics.
Unfortunately, in all of this acclaim, Endtroducing became a Tough Act to Follow that Shadow likely will never be able to top, as all of his future albums failed to receive the same unanimous praise and celebration as this one.
- "Best Foot Forward" (0:48)
- "Building Steam with a Grain of Salt" (6:41)
- "The Number Song" (4:38)
- "Changeling" / "Transmission 1" (7:52)
- "What Does Your Soul Look Like (Part 4)" (5:08)
- "Untitled" (0:24)
- "Stem/Long Stem" / "Transmission 2" (9:22)
- "Mutual Slump" (4:03)
- "Organ Donor" (1:57)
- "Why Hip Hop Sucks in '96" (0:41)
- "Midnight in a Perfect World" (5:02)
- "Napalm Brain" / "Scatter Brain" (9:23)
- "What Does Your Soul Look Like (Part 1 Blue Sky Revisit)" / "Transmission 3" (7:28)
Building tropes with a grain of salt:
- Album Intro Track/"I Am" Song: "Best Foot Forward", serving as Shadow's introduction to the world.
- Broken Record: Some of the samples use this technique. "Midnight in a Perfect World" is a good example of this.
- "Transmission 2" takes its instrumentation from "Midnight in a Perfect World" later on the album.
- The organ from "Organ Donor" makes an appearance in "Stem/Long Stem".
- Dark Reprise: "Transmission 3" is a fuzzier, more distorted, and all-around scarier version of "Transmission 1".
- Downer Ending: Ends with the disturbing and ominous "Transmission 3".
- Epic Rocking: Seven out of the thirteen tracks are between five and nine and a half minutes long (if you use the track listing with the Transmissions attached to their preceding tracks). Five of them are longer than six.
- Hip-Hop: Specifically, instrumental hip-hop. It's one of the most acclaimed and best-known examples of the subgenre.
- Last Note Nightmare: Involving all three transmissions:
- The otherwise-relaxing "Changeling" ends with a transition into "Transmission 1".
- "Transmission 2" plays this straight and then, in a way, inverts it. The majority of the song is the samples from "Midnight in a Perfect World", before going into the same radio chatter/static as the other two transmissions. Then it immediately segues into "Mutual Slump", a song that begins with an absolute barrage of noise.
- The album itself ends with the atmospherically unnerving "Transmission 3", with an ominous spoken-word sample from Prince of Darkness being buried and smothered under sinister, fuzz-distorted ambience akin to TV static. There's even a Twin Peaks sample near the end.
- Miniscule Rocking: As seen above, three of the tracks aren't even a minute long. "Untitled" is the shortest, being only twenty-four seconds.
- Progressive Rock: It's not a straight example of the genre, but many critics have noted its influence on the record with its often lengthy, evolving pieces. Even the shorter pieces like "The Number Song" often have multiple sections and eschew the usual verse/chorus format of pop music, a noted feature of many progressive rock records.
- Punny Name: As explained above.
- Also, "Organ Donor" (an organ-based track).
- Rearrange the Song: "Transmission 3" is merely a more distorted, fuzzier, and all the more creepier version of "Transmission 1".
- Sampling / Sampled Up
- Spoken Word in Music: The album starts with a spoken-word sample (see image caption).
- Take That!: "Why Hip Hop Sucks In '96", which consists of 45 seconds of a laid-back Dr. Dre type beat, as was popular in 1996, then has a quick sample of someone (namely Shadow's friend and occasional collaborator Lyrics Born) saying "It's the money!".
- Textless Album Cover: Just shows an image of two guys at a vinyl store, nothing else.
- Uncommon Time: Significant portions of "Changeling" are in 7/4.