You know I love you better….

Because it’s been part of the shuffle playlist on my MP3 player for about of month now, I’ve been listening to this a lot, and I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s one of the best albums of the 80’s.
It’s got brilliance, humor and scads of aural pleasure. Made by suburban college kids who don’t rub your nose in how depressed they are and have great record collections. It’s kind of a pastoral, with a dance hit.

It’s De La Soul’s “Three Feet High and Rising”.

Why don’t more folks spend more time talking about the sheer greatness of this record?

0 Comments +

  1. The D.A.I.S.Y. Age

    This album came up in a conversation I had a couple of weeks ago. I was trying to convince some naysayers that Hall & Oates made some damn good music. This in turn led to me expressing my disdain that H&O were so quick to sue De La for sampling “I Can’t Go for That” on their song “Say No Go.” This was pretty much in the beginning of the whole sampling debate when artists were up in arms over that issue in the same way that many current artists scoff at file-sharing MP3s. Ironic considering that Hall & Oates built their whole sound on classic Philly Soul. But I digress. De La Soul and the rest of the Native Tongues camp (A Tribe Called Quest, Jungle Brothers, Queen Latifah, Black Sheep, etc) were the folks that made hip-hop relevant for me. Not that I didn’t listen to and love hip-hop/rap before those acts came on the scene. Rather, it was the quirky, suburban, boho, conscious, political, geeky black kid p.o.v. that spoke to me in ways that previous acts didn’t. This was the hip-hop that my friends and I could’ve made. It was artful, insightful, creative, musically diverse, and most of all…fun. A very exciting and promising time in hip-hop. These are the same groups I’ve used to introduce hip-hop to folks who claim they don’t like the genre. I hate to think of these artists as being safe or soft, though there isn’t very much that is relatively threatening or subversive about their music, unless you get into the cryptic nature of “De La speak.” More importantly, the artistry is undeniable. If you give albums like 3 Ft. High and Rising, De La Soul is Dead (my personal favorite), ATCQ’s The Low End Theory, and Midnight Marauders even half a chance, your ears will start to hear why all the kids are so crazy for this hip-hop thing. At its best it’s simply beautiful music.

  2. Re: The D.A.I.S.Y. Age

    First of all the digression: your point makes me think that those musicians who squeal loudest about protecting their copyrights are those who are most feeling the scarcity of their own inspiration (Metallica, anyone?) usually when people are in their creative flow, they don’t worry about other folks coming to drink at the well. ’89 was definitely a low point for H&O, so maybe their crabbiness is understandable. At least Steely Dan has the good grace to admit they steal all their shit from Miles.

    Secondly You are right about Native Tounges, although none of it hit me quite as hard as TFHAR. I think it’s Prince Paul. Your use of the word “soft” makes me angry about the endless guilt trip that is embodied in the search for “hardness” in hip-hop. Perhaps it’s there because it’s the first afro-american popular music to gain success as black music first, in other words there wasn’t the same sort of delay mechanism as there was when R&B became Rock and Roll by virtue of its becoming white. So without visibly “fake” white musicians to complain about, hip-hop purists had to turn that critique inward, against each other. Just a thought.

    Here’s question: one of my all-time favorite records is Rammelzee and K-Rob’s “Beat Bop”, produced by Jean-Michele Basquiat. Can you think of anyone around in hip-hop whose work is related? The closest I can come is some dub reggae.

  3. Re: The D.A.I.S.Y. Age

    I completely agree with your point about the musicians who make the most noise about copywrights especially as that applies to Metallica. Here is a group that built their fan base on a primitive form of file sharing (tape swapping) that they encouraged only to about face and pounce on their fans for downloading their tracks. All this because they’ve been sucking the root for several years now and feeling their relevance recede along with Lars Ulrich’s hairline. Disgusting.

    I hear you on the use of the word “soft” as a negative in hip-hop. My use of it was slightly off as I feel “safe” (which I also used) is closer to the point I was trying to make. I was alluding to how De La and Tribe were an approachable form of hip-hop for many critics (ne: white folks) and even that is an assessment I don’t always like to concede to but have to acknowledge. It’s like a gateway drug. I have friends who were strident hip-hop haters but, after a little Native Tongues, eventually found themselves coming to me fiending for another hit of that good stuff. First time is free. 😉 But I have to think about your hypothesis about “hardness” in hip-hop. It’s such an ingrained aspect of the music that you sometimes forget what its origins might be. As it relates to whiteness or fakery, I wonder how America’s most popular rap star, Eminem (white, real(?) and “hard”), fits into this equation. I would also argue that even hip-hop didn’t escape the spectre of popularization and commodification by white people entirely. Not a complete cultural and stylistic filter as Rock n’ Roll was to R&B, unless you consider the current “emo-hop” thing, but I believe that Beastie Boys had the best-selling rap album of the 80’s.

    I’m listening to “Beat Bop” right now. It’s on this kick ass compilation called New York Noise on the Soul Jazz label. It happens to be the only rap track on the disc which features a bunch of late 70’s/early 80’s no wave, disco punk, funk rock tracks by groups like Liquid Liquid, DNA, Konk, Material, and ESG. Highly recommended. I see why’d you would connect it with dub reggae with all the echo effects. It’s a very bare bones track. Have you ever heard of Roots Manuva, Anti-Pop Consortium, New Flesh (who Rammelzee actually worked with)?

    I feel like I should make you a mix tape or something.

  4. Re: The D.A.I.S.Y. Age

    “…they’ve been sucking the root for several years now…”

    Sucking the root. HA! love that phrase! but don’t you mean “the hairy root”?

    or as my ex and I used to say:
    “They suck Triple-D: Dead Donkey Dong”

  5. Re: The D.A.I.S.Y. Age

    Also I have heard of – but not heard- APC, but not the other two. A mix tape would be too much trouble – just shoot me some suggestions and I’ll happily spend the money on the cds!

    Also you’re quite right, I forgot about the Beastie Boys. But I think my point is that the BB’s have always been a novelty act – white guys who RAP!?! – as opposed to being presented as some how the inventors of Hip Hop in the way that say Elvis was presented in relation to rock and roll.

  6. Re: The D.A.I.S.Y. Age

    Mix tapes too much trouble? That trouble happens to be part of the FUN!!! Man, you might be the first person I’ve ever encountered to turn down a mix tape, especially one made by me. I’m slightly offended. You obviously don’t know. Forgive them for they know not what they do. 😉 Actually, you’d be about number 5 in a queue of folks who are anxiously awaiting mixes from me so you’ve perhaps saved me some of the aforementioned trouble. What are you psychic? I’ll think of some good stuff and send you a list.

    As for BB v. Elvis…Got’cha!

  7. Re: The D.A.I.S.Y. Age

    First of all the digression: your point makes me think that those musicians who squeal loudest about protecting their copyrights are those who are most feeling the scarcity of their own inspiration (Metallica, anyone?) usually when people are in their creative flow, they don’t worry about other folks coming to drink at the well. ’89 was definitely a low point for H&O, so maybe their crabbiness is understandable. At least Steely Dan has the good grace to admit they steal all their shit from Miles.

    Secondly You are right about Native Tounges, although none of it hit me quite as hard as TFHAR. I think it’s Prince Paul. Your use of the word “soft” makes me angry about the endless guilt trip that is embodied in the search for “hardness” in hip-hop. Perhaps it’s there because it’s the first afro-american popular music to gain success as black music first, in other words there wasn’t the same sort of delay mechanism as there was when R&B became Rock and Roll by virtue of its becoming white. So without visibly “fake” white musicians to complain about, hip-hop purists had to turn that critique inward, against each other. Just a thought.

    Here’s question: one of my all-time favorite records is Rammelzee and K-Rob’s “Beat Bop”, produced by Jean-Michele Basquiat. Can you think of anyone around in hip-hop whose work is related? The closest I can come is some dub reggae.

  8. Re: The D.A.I.S.Y. Age

    “…they’ve been sucking the root for several years now…”

    Sucking the root. HA! love that phrase! but don’t you mean “the hairy root”?

    or as my ex and I used to say:
    “They suck Triple-D: Dead Donkey Dong”

  9. Re: The D.A.I.S.Y. Age

    Also I have heard of – but not heard- APC, but not the other two. A mix tape would be too much trouble – just shoot me some suggestions and I’ll happily spend the money on the cds!

    Also you’re quite right, I forgot about the Beastie Boys. But I think my point is that the BB’s have always been a novelty act – white guys who RAP!?! – as opposed to being presented as some how the inventors of Hip Hop in the way that say Elvis was presented in relation to rock and roll.

  10. My word! I haven’t thought of that recording in years. I had a cassette of it– which must have wore out or gotten discarded when I switched to cds…. like, a dozen years ago.

    Must visit the temple of Amazon immediately!

  11. Re: The D.A.I.S.Y. Age

    Fun as it might be, I know that it’s a lot of work on your part, and I myself am already toiling under the guilt of having received several such generous gifts from various people and having not yet been able to respond in kind. So I thought I give us both a break!

  12. Re: The D.A.I.S.Y. Age

    Fun as it might be, I know that it’s a lot of work on your part, and I myself am already toiling under the guilt of having received several such generous gifts from various people and having not yet been able to respond in kind. So I thought I give us both a break!

  13. Re: The D.A.I.S.Y. Age

    …one of my all-time favorite records is Rammelzee and K-Rob’s “Beat Bop”, produced by Jean-Michele Basquiat. Can you think of anyone around in hip-hop whose work is related?

    If you mean similarly spacy in topic choice, Kool Keith is the most obvious choice (although he’s gone so far into kinky sex land that the randomness is pretty well smooshed by now). If you mean flow style, I think that Labtekwon sounds kinda similar (evidence here), if not quite so frantically wigged out. If you mean beat-wise, I’m gonna need some more coffee before I can sort something out.

    (I agree with the earlier recommendations for Roots Manueva, APC, and New Flesh, in that order. APC broke up a little while back, though; one of the three members, Beans, has a new thing out on Warp.)

    (BTW, apparently JMBasquiat’s primary role in the recording of “Beat Bop” was to pony up the cash and to provide Rammelzee with a target for ridicule, not the duet thing he’d hoped for. I vaguely remember there being some record out there where Basquiat actually made it to the mic, but everything’s a bit hazy.)

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