De La Soul Is Dead: De La Soul Monday 24 October, 2011

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Is it time to re-appraise the second album from the one time day-glo daisy agers? Erm…yep!

Three Feet High And Rising (if you don’t know it go and listen to it for three weeks then come back when you’ve thought about what you did) was a huge success.  Released in 1989 (my first year of senior school) it was popular with everybody.  Five of the singles released from the album made it into the top 25 of the UK charts and two of those made it into the top ten.  Just take a minute to think about that. Hip Hop was not the multi-billion dollar industry it is now. It was very much a minority sport at the time. That is pretty outstanding success by anybody’s standards. Perhaps that’s why De La Soul were among the first people to have the dubious honour of being sued for sampling.

Imagine, then, the excitement in 1991 that surrounded the release of De La Soul’s second album. De La Soul Is Dead is a very different album to it’s predecessor. Much darker and much more mature. It was received with mixed reactions from critics and public alike and very quickly made it’s way into the reduced section. Perhaps if the price hadn’t dropped so rapidly I would not have been an advocate for this album for so many years. In 1991 I was a thirteen year old hip hop fan with not much money so I was delighted to find a De La Soul album so cheaply. The joy that I felt then is now matched by the sadness that the general populous is so easily blinded by it’s own expectations. This album is easily as good as the first album and perhaps better. I’ve listened to this album many many more times than the former album.

When I first listened to it I have to admit that I was unmoved by it. I wanted Say No Go MKII but there was nothing like that on offer here. There were a few songs that I liked instantly though Ring Ring Ring (Ha Ha Hey), Millie Pulled A Pistol On Santa, A Roller Skating Jam Named “Saturdays” and Keepin’ The Faith held my interest straight away but the other songs felt a little impenetrable.  Luckily for me this was an age where albums were sold on Cassette Tape which meant you either listened to all of it or you mucked around fast forwarding and rewinding a lot. I chose to listen to all of it and eventually it clicked.

This album is stunning. It is littered with moments of magic. It has a fierce sense of humour and displays a rapier like social commentary. It’s just not really, bar a couple of exceptions, party music.  WRMS’ Dedication To The Bitty is mesmerisingly beautiful music (twenty years after first hearing it I’d discover the source of this beauty to be Joe Sample’s ‘In All My Wildest Dreams’, just a gorgeous song) across it’s forty six seconds.  In fact all over the album there are little treats just wanting you to give them time to impress you.

This is not an album that you can just hope to love the first time you hear it but perhaps that’s why it’s achieved such longevity. Clear a space on your iPod and brace yourself to offer this often unloved album some much deserved care and it will become a loyal friend for many years to come. Like the song says we should be ‘Keepin’ The Faith’…just not like that Bon Jovi tit (shudder).

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One Comment

  • kite says:

    i was 6 when this album dropped, never heard it until about 2004, loved it ever since. this and buhloone mind state are 2 of the most slept on albums ever


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