I never had much respect for djs and dj culture until DJ Shadow hit the scene with his 1996 breakthrough album - Entroducing.... I simply failed to see the importance of someone exclusively using other people's music as a viable art form. With Shadow, however, it became clear to me that using sound bites and samples from various albums was simply an audio form of collage and, if done right, could be every bit as original and entertaining as any other format or genre of music around. Not to mention the fact that djs, like Shadow, are some of the most knowledgeable music geeks in the world because they meticulously sift through tons of albums spanning every genre and musical era known to man in order to find that perfect sound.
The latest "collage" album released this year is What Does It All Mean? 1983-2006 Retrospective. The majority of it was created in the early days of hip hop by a Jewish white kid(Steve Stein, AKA Steinski) and yet it is just now getting an "official" release because of the obvious copyright infringements in his use of samples.
It was only a few months ago that I had even heard of Steinski and I imagined in my mind that this album would be a crude, outdated sound of the beginning stages of collage as a musical art form. At most, I thought it would be interesting, but far from great. What I heard, however, blew me away and it is, without question, one of my favorite albums of 2008. Steinski's use of sound bites and samples fits perfectly to create a fun record that sounds as fresh today as I'm sure it did in its bootleg form in the 80's. If you like DJ Shadow or modern collage progenitor, Girl Talk - I assure you that you will most certainly love this album.