De La Soul's3Foot High and Rising was one of the most innovative hip hopalbums ever. The title of their second album, De La Soul Is Dead, summed up the band's unwillingness to stand still and be pigeon holed. The Daisy Age was officially declared over.
The spotlight thenmovedaway fromPosdnuos, Trugoy, and Maceo(a little something called Gangsta rap was making the headlines) and the triofocused on creating a string of classic albums. And with records like "Buhloone Mindstate" (1993), "Stakes Is High" (1996) and "AOI: Mosaic Thump" (2000), they deserve the title of the most consistent hip-hop group ever. Who else has kept up this quality for so long?
The Grind Date, their first album for Sanctuary, offers ample evidence of how they've remained at the top;making a target of those rappers who put out "wack albums" with only "two joints". Original producer Prince Paul has long since departed, but help from the likes of Madlib, Supa Dave West and J-Dilla prove that De Lacan still wipe the floor with a today'snew generation of hip hop artists.
The bandremain almost compulsively inventive, their eclecticapproach creatinga smart and soulful beauty of an album. Guests such as Spike Lee, Flava Flav, Ghostface and Commonline up to pay testament to their genius.
The album is littered with high points. Current single "Shopping Bags" sees Madlib cut up Just Ice's classic "Cold Getting' Dumb" to mimic a hundred rattling milk bottles. The title track transforms an unlikely sample of "Ritual Nous Commes De Soleil" by Yes into a glorious party loop, while "Come On Down" throws down a B-Boy gauntlet to P.Diddyand Esther Williams' "Last Night Changed It All", and the stuttering rhythms of "Rock Co.Kane Flow" are as out there and ambitious as anything by Kanye West.
At times The Grind Date is ludicrously good and on this form who's to say they won't be around for another 16 years. As they state on "Come On Down", the competition might be all Tito's and Randy's, but De La Soul are still the main Jackson. --Adam Webb
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