A Rare Glimpse at an Almost Forgotten Art





DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist

Mr. Smalls

Pittsburgh, PA






DJ Shadow (Josh Davis) and Cut Chemist (Lucas MaccFadden) brought alive the history of Hip Hop in the Steel City through Afrika Bambaataa’s historic collection of 40,000 vinyl records. The collection on loan from the Cornell University Library for the nationwide Renegades of Rhythm twenty-eight city tour are the same records Bambaataa used staring in the late 1970s and continuing through the 1980s across New York clubs. Bambaataa used music to bring the b-boys, rockers, DJs, MCs, graffiti artist together to create a new culture called Hip-Hop. He believed that through music he could make the world a better place for all people.


20141114-_DSC0141DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist took to the stage in front of a sold out crowd at Mr. Small’s for a rare 100 minute trip down memory lane. Shadow took a few minutes first to explain what was going to happen; “Bambaataa is one of three DJs most responsible for laying the ground work and establishing the fabric for what hip hop music even sounds like. Even in the seventies Bambaataa was called the master of records. He was one of the first DJs to use the depth and expansion of his collection as part of his identity as a DJ. And so when you hear all the records that we are playing without exception, these come from Bambaataa’s historic collection which is on loan to us until we finish the tour. So, when you hear a break beat, you might be like I heard that break beat sampled in like a thousand records. Well that isn’t just any copy of that break it’s the copy that was played in the Bronx in the seventies that helped establish the entire culture.” Shadow also said that he loved Pittsburgh and that his grandmother lost her hearing at a Jurassic 5 concert in Pittsburgh. “You couldn’t ask for higher praise than that,” for a city he added.


Six turntables is sadly an odd sight at a DJ show in the 21st century. In a time where everything is digital and prerecorded on a 20141114-_DSC0211laptop, a DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist show is more of a fine work of art from the golden years of Hip Hop. Two artists working in tandem layering beats from the Van Goughs’ of Hip Hop on top of classic songs to create a one of a kind masterpiece. Projected behind them on the stage throughout the evening were the cover art from the albums mixed with classic photos of Bambaataa. DJ Shadow personally collected many of the photos by buying old magazines on eBay that had articles of Bambaataa. Their passion and love for what they do could be felt through every hiss and pop that came from this timeless collection.


Their tour will end in Oakland, CA November 25th after a four-show run across Canada.  The tour will then head across the pond for a seventeen show European run starting in France in January before wrapping things up in Australia.