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DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist play classic vinyl set

By Jason Herring, November 20 2014 —

Cut Chemist and DJ Shadow are giving vinyl enthusiasts and hip-hop fans a reason to get excited with their vinyl-only Renegades of Rhythm tour.

The renowned turntablists have both had long careers in hip hop. DJ Shadow (Josh Davis) is well known for his innovative, sample-driven, instrumental hip-hop albums, such as Endtroducing…, while Cut Chemist (Lucas MacFadden) is best known for his work with hip-hop group Jurassic 5. The two have collaborated in the past, most recently on a set entitled The Hard Sell.

In addition to the artists’ impressive resumes, their new collaboration is devoted to recognizing the music and influence of rap-music visionary Afrika Bambaataa, who’s known as the grandfather of hip hop. The Renegades of Rhythm set is performed solely with records hand-picked from Bambaataa’s personal collection of over 40,000 records.

“We only had three days in the storage facility before [the records] got shipped out, but they were 10-hour days,” Davis says. “We spent about two weeks just listening to stuff, and then another three weeks just putting the set together.”

The set is meant to be a homage to Bambaataa, who Davis speaks about with great respect.

“We wanted to honour him, to honour his contributions [to the genre]. That’s the context in which we made the set,” Davis says.

Since the tour is dedicated to Bambaataa’s music and legacy, the musicians decided not to play their own material.

The set was well received by Bambaataa himself, who attended the tour’s opening show in New York City.

Unlike previous collaborations with McFadden, Davis  says there hasn’t been much need to tinker with the set while on the road because they produced a complete set from the start.

While delving into the history of hip hop, the duo have made an effort to spin a mix of experimental and underground music along with more popular, accessible songs.

“We tried every five minutes or so to touch on something that even the casual music head would be into, so those moments always tend to get the best response,” says Davis, citing hip-hop classics by Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five as well as prog-rock band Yes as audience pleasers.

Even though these shows rely on vinyl records, Davis denies being a vinyl purist.

“I appreciate the medium because it was the format for popular music for over 100 years. But I also collect cassettes, CDs, MP3s,” he says. “I’m a music fan, not a format fan.”

DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist bring Renegades of Rhythm  to Flames Central on Nov. 23.

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