Friday, February 25, 2011

12. De La Soul - 3 Feet High and Rising (1989)

45 years, 45 LPs, 45 days...
3 Feet High and Rising (1989)
Have I mentioned how much I loved 1989? It kicked some sweet musical ass.  I could probably do a Top 45 of albums just from 1989 alone. 

3 Feet High and Rising is not De La Soul's best album. In my opinion Buhloone Mind State (1992) is their best work so far, and 2009's Nike sponsored aRe yoU iN? is awesome as well.  What makes De La's first album so important is its influence on hip hop. What puts it so high on this countdown is how it opened me up to a whole hip hop scene that had previously been limited to Run DMC, The Fat Boys, and The Beastie Boys.
1990: Sporting my fancy Posdnous eyewear, my fave cardigan,
one of my fave friends and, on the wall, my fave hip hop group

3 Feet High and Rising was released at a time when gangsta rap was becoming HUGE. I remember working at the record store when CDs from Ice-T and N.W.A. started selling huge numbers. Out of nowhere comes this trio from Long Island with a crazy mix of bizarre samples and beats, assembled with the assistance of producer Prince Paul. This was a whole new genre of music - psychedelic hip hop - lifting bits off records by The Turtles, Rascals, and even Schoolhouse Rock. The songs featured little comedy skits and songs about girls, sex, drugs, and popular culture. De La Soul was different and fresh, and I was mesmerized. 

Through De La Soul I found a whole mess of other artists that were part of the "Native Tongues" posse: A Tribe Called Quest, Jungle Brothers, Queen Latifah, Monie Love, Brand Nubian, and Black Sheep. For five years I didn't miss any Native Tongue releases.  In the end A Tribe Called Quest broke up (but not before I saw them on a double bill with De La Soul at First Avenue), Latifah became a big movie star/tv star/CoverGirl, and Monie Love focused on motherhood. De La Soul? They are all family men now, but they're still making records and going strong.

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