Shadows inspired first album Entroducing has dated, his second The Private Press hasn't. His third, The Outsider is less likely to even get off the ground.
Shadow has indulged in some of his own musical preferences here with the majority of the first half of the album as straight hiphop with guest rappers. Unfortunately on the whole the quality of these initial tracks is poor. The rapping, both lyrically and stylistically, as well as the beats, sound like something from a Busta Ryhmes b-sides album. A case in point being Keep Em Close (featuring Nump!), with chorus lyrics "keep your friends close but those that you want to rob, keep them closer"
One of the most appealing aspects of Shadow as an artist was his commitment to producing hiphop that shied away from this kind of predictable bragadosery nonsense. Its a shame he has included this too many times on this album. Much of the rapping sounds like it was recorded in one day as a freestyle with no preparation. Set against Shadows reputation for attention to detail this just doesn't work. Enuff featuring Q-Tip and Lateef exemplify this most glaringly.
Having said all this the second half of the album largely moves back to the innovation and eclecticism of samples, beats and instrumentation upon which Shadow made his name. The guitar on the New Orleans inspired Brocken Levee Blues, and the drumbeats on Artifiact really shake the listener out of the monotony that the first tracks slip them into. Unfortunately for this album I suspect it will be a case of too little too late.