Rolling Stone - 1/22/98, p.563 Stars (out of 5)
- "...a farrago of odds and ends dating back to 1993, most of them released as limited-run singles....Shadow's music is sonically cross-referenced for maximum cognitive dissonance..."
Entertainment Weekly - 1/16/97, p.70
"...A collection of early work, it finds Shadow still figuring out the best ways to stitch together hip-hop drums, mellow saxes, blaxploitation licks, unearthy choirs, and movie-dialogue snatches. But when the combination clicks...he comes close enough to predicting his later brilliance." - Rating: B
Option - 5-6/98, p.84
"...Shadow's penchant for rare groove keeps things moving..."
Rap Pages - 4/98, p.1193 (out of 5)
- "...there's always at least one layer--a progressing keyboard melody, a time-jumping drum sequence, a thick bassline or some other element--that will have you intrigued..."
PREEMPTIVE STRIKE is less a second full-length effort from the Bay Area's finest hip-hop-minded deconstructionist DJ Shadow, than a sextet of older odds patched together with a pair of newer ends. All of these songs have previously appeared as import Mo Wax 12"s, but only two ("High Noon" and "Organ Donor [Complete Overhaul]") have come in the wake of Shadow's debut.
It is easy to distinguish the old from the new. Pieces like the four extremely different parts of 1995's hip-hop symphony "What Does Your Soul Look Like?," which takes up about half the album, are spacious; the myriad of samples breathing in between fluid, husky beats and melodies lift the music out of any pre-conceived sampledelic morass. Whereas "High Noon" is tight, edgy and fiery; all psyche guitar groove, tribal drums and preachy voices. So it seems that what Shadow's music may have lost over the years in zen-like meditation it has gained in intensity-per-measure, an important trait for a dance-floor-commanding DJ.