Wednesday, May 9, 2012

From The Soul

      De La Soul has been around for over 20 years now. Their start, out of high school in New York, was from producer DJ "Prince Paul" after hearing their smashing debut song "Plug Tunin". The three rappers go by multiple stage names, but in most of their songs refer to themselves by "Plug One," "Plug Two," and "Plug Three." These stage names are in reference to the order of the plugs their microphones were plugged into. "Plug One," Kelvin Mercer; "Plug Two," David Jude Jolicoeur; and "Plug Three," Vincent Mason; were great innovators of rap back in the 80's, showing that an upbeat attitude, clever lyricism, and quite innovative backgrounds to their raps could be as popular as other genres of rap.
      Rap at the time was hitting its start of the Gangsta/Hardcore Rap phase. Ice T , Schoolly D, and N.W.A., the best known pioneers of this hardcore rap, were making in-your-face statements about the world, "F**k the police" and drug use being some of the messages thrown through their lyrics. De La Soul had a different idea. They were the start of alternative lyricism, having a more upbeat and thoughtful message, keeping a laid-back old-school style.
     With DJ "Prince Paul" producing for them, their first album, 3 Feet High & Rising, was a pinnacle piece of hip-hop, and one of the all-time best rap albums made. De La Soul rapped about peace and harmony, about the community coming together; a stark contrast to hardcore rap at the time. The album took in funk, psychedelic, jazz, and old-school hip-hop styles. It exploded the rap community in a new direction entirely. I think most of you know already know quite a few of the songs on this album, but here was the most famous of them.
De La Soul's - "Me, Myself, and I"

     The group was a smashing success. This new alternative rap style out of New York caught on, gaining popularity and sparking many new groups: Black Sheep, A Tribe Called Quest, and even Queen Latifah (Collectively the Native Tongues Posse). This new alternative rap seemed to be almost bypassing hardcore in popularity with the start of the 90's.
    De La Soul stayed with their alternative style. Their career saw rather a slow decline after 3 Feet High & Rising. Granted, they stayed with their genre, but they did quite a few new things trying to push their sound all around. They experimented with a three part series called Art Of Intelligence: but only released 2 albums in that series. For me, one of the greatest tracks from them came out of the second release AOI: Bionix; "Trying People"
De La Soul's - "Trying People"

     Sadly to say, they have stayed pretty under the radar more recently (the exception of collaborating with The Gorillaz for the songs "Superfast Jellyfish" and "Feel Good Inc."). However, they are still a great band to fall back on. They are very original, different, and quite a good remedy for the soul, from the soul.
-Minimal FoX


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