These days one could hardly fathom that there existed a hip-hop group in the 80’s that strived to promote peace, harmony, and provide a critical commentary on the decline of hip hop through their lyricism. That group is De La Soul. As the name suggests, this trio aimed to inject a soulful and peaceful message into the increasingly violent hip hop scene. The majority of their tracks include some analysis on the evolution of hip hop away from its roots and themselves try and bring it back. After the release of their debut album “3 feet high and Rising” they became known as hippies, and although they did not like the label, became center of a movement for peace and non-violence in hip-hop. As you may have guessed, their beats mostly build on jazz samples but also bring in lots of funk.
In my opinion their greatest album is the debut, 3 Feet High and Rising. It is a classic in every sense. When it was released in 1989 it was edgy, musically near-perfect, and incredibly fun. At this time there was an invisible force pushing top artists to conform to once idea of rap, and De La Soul broke the rules and released one of the most innovative albums to date. The album contains funky samples, bizarre vocals, odd rhyming schemes, and a scattered structure. The lyrics vary from simplistic to incredibly complex and technical. In The Magic Number they hop around from using simple ABAB rhymes to complex alliteration.
Some of De La’s subsequent albums, such as Stakes is High (1996) , have focused more on the decline of rap music and provide a normative analysis of where it is going versus where it should be. Buhloone Mindstate (1993) is a self-referential album and they collaborate with Gang Starr’s Guru for the first time.
3 FEET HIGH AND RISING
The Magic Number
Insane opening verse:
“Difficult preaching is Posdnous’ pleasure
Pleasure and preaching starts in the heart
Something that stimulates the music in the measure
Measure and the music brings in three parts
Casually see but don’t do like the Soul
‘Cause seeing and doing are actions for monkeys”
First collaboration with A Tribe Called Quest, Queen Latifah, and The Jungle Brothers
STAKES IS HIGH
Stakes is High
Deals with topics including the state of hip-hop, commercialization of hip-hop, and criticism of gangsta rap. Beats produced by J-Dilla
DE LA SOUL IS DEAD
Millie Pulled a Pistol on Santa
A dark humoured story about a girl who was abused by her father and later kills him at the mall where he works as Santa.
In the Woods