207. De La Soul – “3 Feet High and Rising”

Here’s a record (yes, it’s on vinyl) that still gets pretty regular spins in my house, despite me owning it for almost 20 years.

Album Cover De La Soul 3 Feet High and RisingThis debut release justifiably continues to win kudos as a breakthrough album in the hip-hop domain.  I distinctly remember the British indie-music papers wetting themselves with delight when this popped out back in 1989. I fell for the nursery rhyming very quickly.

There was (and is) so much to love on this album.  Samples from all over the musical landscape (including the Johnny Cash lyric album title), warm almost-sung raps, skits that don’t tire with repetition, a mention of Australia… it’s great stuff.

I am so damn familiar with this album, I find it hard to imagine not having heard it.  It’s hip hop but not as we typically think about it.  The groove is much funkier.  The vibe is more love-filled than anger-driven. There are flights of fancy George Clinton would be proud of.

There is a lot of silliness on this record.  Some tracks are just a bunch of fun samples or riffs about your friends smelling funny. But that just serves to connect the epics (Magic Number, Jenifa…, Ghetto Thang, Eye Know and about 7 others!).

I found this on Youtube (the press video they put together at the time, and which I taped off Rage way back then):

It captures some of the magic.

File under: A giant release

4 responses to “207. De La Soul – “3 Feet High and Rising”

  1. i loved this era of hip-hop- thrillingly inventive use of samples before artists and the barristers started cracking down on the practice. that era of positivity that spawned tribe, the beasties, diggable planets, and all sort of other groups is one of the great era of modern music IMHO.

  2. This is the one album everyone even remotely interested in hip hop should own. It breaks the mould and fashions a new one and sets the mark for what hip hop could and should be.

  3. Just a shame that they killed their sound at birth. Were they over-sensitive to negative murmurings from within the rap community? Groundbreaking music which they then retreated from, leaving others to mutate the genre.

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