3 Feet High And Rising


Twenty five-years ago or as near damn it, Hip Hop changed forever. The dawning of a ‘daisy age’, a psychedelic trigger to expand rap music’s horizons, the debut album from New York’s De La Soul dared to dream bigger and better. The Haight Asbury to the street level epistles and rage of such luminaries as KRS-One and his Boogie Down Bronx collective or Public Enemy, and far less dogmatically pro-Nation of Islam as X Clan and the Brand Nubians, De La Soul wove an almost electric kool aid tapestry of skittish humour and enlightened social commentary: closer in spirit to Prince than their fellow Hip Hop brethren.

A change had to come, and 3 Feet High And Rising was a zeitgeist: nothing before or after was quite the same creatively. Of course, they weren’t the first to sample outside the usual soul, funk and R&B influences; both Run DMC and The Beastie Boys had beaten them to AM rock and heavy metal. They weren’t the first either to take up the Afrocentric cause, their fellow Native Tongues partners, The Jungle Brothers (bookending 1989 with their own accomplished and, arguably, one of the genres best albums, Done By The Forces Of Nature) already delivering that with their, soul-zap, jazz, hip house debut, Straight Out Of The Jungle, the previous year. Yet they managed with the help of original Stetsasonic honcho and Hip Hop’s leading experimental light, Prince Paul, to create the Sgt.Pepper of rap; a counterbalance to the tough and egotistic mantra gesticulating stereotype hoods that had dominated the scene for the past decade, turning the party jam and electro golden dawn into a bloody rivalry of dangerous put downs and postcode spates.


Potholes In My Lawn USA 12"

In keeping with the burgeoning of the intelligent hoodlum, De La Soul used their halcyon flower sprouting noodles to turn on society’s ills. Not only, ingenuously, making Hall & Oates hip for a brief moment, ‘Say No Go’ and the beat poetic nursery rhyme resigned ‘Ghetto Thang’ both deliberated on the cruel and seamier side of the shaded sidewalk without swearing or boasting.

For sure it would be a milestone, but it would also be a millstone around the trio’s neck. The accolades and acclaim that followed would never match the debut’s impact, though not for want of trying. Even as far back as their sophomore release they pessimistically – though with an ironic knowing – announced their own demise with the equally sophisticated but much serene De La Soul Is Dead. Twenty five-years later they’re still making records, and recently as a bestowed gift to the world, they gave all their music away free for a 24-hour period. The legacy that followed cannot be overstated, sparking a leftfield revolution that helped spawn and motivate A Tribe Called Quest, Leaders Of The New School, Queen Latifah, The Black Sheep, KMD, Divine Styler, Digable Planets and Main Source to name just a few, though we could also arguably blame them for PM Dawn too!

Already the internet has been awash with praise, essays and vocal pontifications, so here instead is a collection of 12” remixes and lesser known mixes of tracks from that reputable album.

 






















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