DJ Shadow (born Josh Davis) is widely credited as a key figure in developing the experimental instrumental hip-hop style associated with the London-based Mo’ Wax label. Inspired by hip-hop’s early years, he then grew to absorb the heyday of crews like Eric B. & Rakim, Ultramagnetic MCs, and Public Enemy; groups which prominently featured DJs in their ranks.
Josh “Shadow” Davis had already been fiddling around with making beats and breaks on a four-track recorder while he was in high school in the NorCal cow-town of Davis, but it was during college that he co-founded his own Solesides label as an outlet for his original tracks. Hooking up with Davis’ few b-boys (including eventual Solesides artists Blackalicious and Lyrics Born) through the college radio station, Shadow began releasing the Hip-Hop Reconstruction mix tapes in 1991 and pressed his 17-minute beat-head symphony “Entropy” in 1993. His tracks spread widely through the DJ-strong hip-hop underground, eventually catching the attention of Mo’ Wax.