This is the album that I can trace almost all of my favorite music back to ("back to which I can trace my favorite musics"? screw you grammar). The product of a collaboration between James Lavelle and the always-spectacular DJ Shadow, the album has everyone you could possibly like.
Kool G Rap? Check.
Mike D from the Beastie Boys? Check.
Thom Yorke? Yep.
Badly Drawn Boy? Absolutely.
Richard Ashcroft? Check.
Metallica's Jason Newsted? Plays the goddamn theremin!
Ian Brown? You know it!
And these are just the guest artists. The samples are all over the place--this is DJ Shadow we're talking about--and reinforce the almost cinematic Sci-Fi feel of the album. Lots of creepy vocal samples, Shadow's trademark dirty-ass drums, and old commercials give this album a lush soundscape.
And the music! Ah! After the swirl of samples in the intro (it's fucking ridiculous, look it up on wikipedia 'cause it's too long to put here), comes some killer gangsta rap, mellow trip-hop, hard-rock, ambient interludes, a string ensemble with beats, more hip-hop, and then a fucking Thom Yorke ballad (with a stellar video).
This album's a fucking trip, and the songs flow into each other so well, your brain can't help but create its own space-opera narrative.