Thievery Corporation make abstract, instrumental, mid-tempo dance music whose classification falls somewhere between trip-hop and acid jazz. Featuring the production skills of Rob Garza and Eric Hilton, Thievery Corporation released several warmly received singles on their own Eighteenth Street Lounge (ESL) label (named after their own Washington, D.C. bar and nightclub) in 1996. Although previously known primarily among acid jazz and rare-groove DJs, the group shot to minor celebrity when a track from one of their early 12"'s appeared on respected DJ/producers Kruder & Dorfmeister's mix session for Studio K7's DJ Kicks series. Similar in many respects (and more than just number) to that Viennese production duo, Thievery Corporation subsequently grew in popularity among a wider audience of DJs and headphonaunts.
The duo's debut LP appeared in 1997, along with a compilation of Washington, D.C.-based electronica artists entitled Dubbed Out in DC (both albums were released by ESL). After signing with the British label 4AD, Thievery Corporation began to work on their second LP but were forced to postpone its release date after tapes were stolen in a mugging. The stopgap remix compilation Abductions & Reconstructions was released in 1999, and their second proper album The Mirror Conspiracy followed one year later. The duo's growing fame made them a natural choice to select tracks for the 2001 Verve compilation Sounds From the Verve Hi-Fi, and they returned to their own work one year later with The Richest Man in Babylon. The mix album Outernational Sound and remix EP Babylon Rewound both appeared in 2004; that same year, the track "Lebanese Blonde" was featured in the highly successful Garden State soundtrack, which later won a Grammy Award. 2005's The Cosmic Game featured guest vocalists Perry Farrell, the Flaming Lips' Wayne Coyne, and David Byrne, and the remix compilation Versions followed in 2006. As election season approached, Thievery Corporation released the politically minded studio effort Radio Retaliation in September 2008.