True innovators are a rare breed. There aren’t many albums around that don’t remind you of something that’s gone before.
To be innovational (it’s a real word, I checked!) in a musical genre that’s been around for a while is even more impressive, and yet that’s exactly what De La Soul did with their 1989 debut ‘3 feet high and rising’.
The concept of sampling had been around since ‘The rapper’s delight’ and to an even greater extent ‘The adventures of Grandmaster Flash on the wheels of steel’, but De La Soul jerked it out of a rut with an album that with the brief introduction of ‘The daisy age’ sails perilously close to a ‘concept’.
In fact some considered ‘3 feet high and rising’ to be Hip Hop’s ‘Dark side of the moon’, in reality it’s much more fun, and has proven to be much more influential than Pink Floyd’s classic.
Mixing skits, fake quiz shows and using unlikely samples (Billy Joel, Steely Dan, Eric Burdon and War, Otis Redding, or Hall and Oates for example) to devastating effect on tracks like ‘Eye know’, ‘Me, Myself and I’ and ‘Plug tunin’’ this album has now justifiably achieved near-mythical status.
Unbelievably they came reasonably close to this standard again with their next two albums, the darker ‘De La Soul is dead’ and the jazzier ‘Buhloone mindstate’. The former I own on cassette, the latter an ex public library copy on CD.
This is definitely the only Hip Hop album I own that has inspired me to listen to Billy Joel’s ‘52nd Street’ again – I’m just off to look for it now!
Oh, and by the way, ‘How many times did the Batmobile catch a flat?’
Label – Tommy Boy
Year - 1989