At the end of the Eighties, De La declared a “D.A.I.S.Y. Age,” which stood for “Da Inner Sound, Y’All.” No gold chains, just samples, skits, jokes and beats, biting everyone from P-Funk to Hall and Oates and Johnny Cash.
With ‘3 Feet High and Rising‘, De La Soul teamed with legendary producer Prince Paul to create a template for free-thinking, creative hip-hop that wasn’t afraid to challenge the still-budding genre’s norms.
As Hip-Hop became to grow, the spotlight was moved from the pioneers of the first stage and their easy going style to new emerging artists with harsher sounds (Boogie Down Productions, LL Cool J, Beastie Boys, Public Enemy, Run DMC) and eventually to the gangsta rap explosion.
In a parallel manner there was a movement brewing in the barrels of NYC, headlined by Queen Latifah, Afrika Bambaataa and the Jungle Brothers that enforced a message of Afrocentrism that although it didn’t reject the hardcore messages of other popular artists it made room for more playfulness, clever wordplay and amiability. Still in high school, Maseo,Trugoy the Dove and Posdnuos – were excited by this vision and began work on De la Soul in 1987. Soon, Stetsasonic producer Prince Paul became interested in the group, helping get them a record deal and offering to produce their first album.
Thinly disguised under a layer of humor, their lyrical themes ranged from true love (‘Eye Know‘) to the destructive power of drugs (‘Say No Go‘) to Daisy Age philosophy (‘Tread Water‘) to sex (‘Buddy‘). Moreover, the bright colours, crazy hairstyles and sweet melodies that underscored their rhymes offered a welcome riposte to the rage and macho posturing of much rap. De La Soul really brought a gushing of fresh air washing over the hip-hop landscape – both in their actual rapping, their delivery, but also in the sounds and samples that they worked with. ‘3 Feet High and Rising‘ is the second Hip-Hop album (No.1 being Public Enemy’s ‘Fear of a Black Planet‘) that got inducted in the Library of Congress’ National Recording Registry, based on its cultural significance and general excellence. The album also introduced skits to hip-hop, something that unlike the present days had barely been touched on before. Many of these skits take the form of a game show, and what the show is truly about is anyone’s guess. The album constantly, effortlessly confuses it’s listener, and in the end most came out with the word ‘hippie.’ Like the hippie records of the ’60s and ’70s, here De la Soul were presenting an alternative to the popular mainstream, a peace-filled vision of stress-free living and child-like wonder for the world.
“We always wanted to be one of those acts that could be considered part of a legendary legacy,” says Trugoy, a.k.a. David Jude Jolicoeur. “I remember back in the day, saying it’s so cool that the Beatles, Stevie Wonder, David Bowie are still played. That’s what we wanted hip-hop to be, one of those genres that doesn’t fade out when whatever’s new is hot. Sure, we appreciated what BDP, LL and so many others were doing, but we had something else to say, and we knew there were people out there like us that wanted to hear something else. We felt like, if we wanted to look the way we looked and touch on topics we did, we shouldn’t be fearful of doing it just because it was the boasting and the bragging and the gold chain era. We always felt that individualism and creativity and expressing it was most important. That also made it more frightening, realizing that there was really nothing out there like it to judge it off of. We didn’t know what was going to happen. No clue!”
If you liked this album you can:
Take a trip down memory lane with the video clip of ‘Me myself and I‘.
Check out De La Sou’s Electronic Press Kit.
Read this cool interview.
Follow De La Soul on twitter!