The path taken by De La Soul is a fascinating one.
Bedevilled with idolatry of their debut and its breakthrough status, they then struggled to match these expectations.
As I argued, the followup was a pretty much a weak facsimile of the firstborn.
This third effort saw them abandoning the undergrad cartoony tendencies (i.e. the skits are gone, as are the attempts to label a generation).
In their place is a more consistent focus on the rhyme and the groove. Most of tracks here are lyrics-heavy and they are partying over more upbeat, jazzy beats and melodies.
It all works very effectively, yet fails to capture me completely. Part of the problem is the loss of distinctiveness. The lads bring in a whole range of friends (including some much-needed female accompaniment), but many of the guests just highlight the extent to which De La have spawned a generation of imitators, all capable of laying down these laidback rhymes. While they’re noticeable in the absence, any of the Native Tongues buddies (i.e. Jungle Brothers, Tribe Called Quest) could have delivered this.
I will occasionally spin this disc for a bit of inoffensive background funk-hop, but it doesn’t raise my pulse in any sense.
File under: A Monday afternoon state of mind