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This Or That (Week One) …..The De La Soul Edition: 3 Feet High & Rising Vs. Stakes Is High

by Travis on June 23, 2008

Last Week

Another blow out was registered last week as Straight Outta Compton put a pounding on their sophomore album Efil4Zaggin. With almost four hours left, it sits at 91-27. I honestly didn’t know what to expect with that one, I guess I was quick to learn. As I mentioned, I didn’t know which album I was going to pick when I started writing the write up, simply because the production on the second album was so amazing, but when it came down to it, you can’t pass up the classic tracks found on Straight Outta Compton. Let’s hope the next THREE weeks brings a little more of an even match up. “Three weeks?”, you ask, yes, three weeks. I’ll explain as we jump into the first “This Or That” tournament.

This Week

If I had to choose a GROUP to call my all-time favorite, it’d probably have to be De La Soul. De La Soul, in my opinion is one of the most consistent hip hop groups there ever has been in the history of hip hop. They have delivered on every album, at a clip of the last 19 years. Their first four albums are classics for me. That, to me is pretty amazing. All their albums have the whole package, with amazing production found through out their many albums with the greatness of Posdnous and Dave on the mic. I wasn’t always a De La fan though. Much like when Tribe first dropped, I wasn’t feeling 3 Feet High and Rising at all. It was just too “out there” for my tastes. I had a friend that would buy the tape, and besides “Jenifa Taught Me”, I could do without the album. “Plugin’ Tunin”, “Potholes In My Lawn” and “Me Myself & I” were all played at nausea on “Yo! MTV Raps” during the day and besides the humorous video for “Me, Myself & I”, I would either change the channel or hit fast forward if I had taped the episode. I blew them off. When they went on to release De La Soul Is Dead, I did kind of take to “Ring Ring Ring (Ha Ha Hey)”, but again, for the most part, it was just too out there for my tastes. I wouldn’t even listen to it as a whole album until I started going back through their music in 1996. I actually did like what I heard on Buhloone Mindstate, including what I thought was the incredibly dope “Ego Trippin’ (Part Two)”, but still wasn’t inspired enough to go pick up the album. It would be spring of 1996 that my man Dino and I would go check out a De La show here in town and after that amazing show, I was hooked. I would pick up Stakes Is High soon after and my love affair with De La began.

Since De La has four albums that are held in high regard in the hip hop community, we are doing a three week event. I have a good feeling what it will boil down to, but as you can already tell, I do a lot of these just for the sociological effect, what people REALLY think about certain albums. I’ve already learned a lot and I’m sure I’ll learn with this little set up. This week will be 3 Feet High & Rising against Stakes Is High. Sure they are apples and oranges, but this is more about people’s favorite albums than trying to say which is “better”. We could argue about that all day and never get anywhere. Next week will be De La Soul Is Dead squaring off against Buhloone Mindstate. The winner of both weeks goes at it for the favorite De La album. Quite simple of course, so here we go, another episode of “This or That”….(cues theme music)


3 Feet High & Rising Vs. Stakes Is High

3 Feet High & Rising

Positives

-The album elevated the art of sampling. Gone were the days of James Brown samples and “Funky Drummer” break beats. Enter samples from the Turtles and other things producers would have never thought about sampling. Prince Paul established himself as a top notch producer. Prince Paul was a freakin genius.

-Skits. Some could argue this is a good and bad thing. Sure, they utilized skits to the best of their ability and added to the overall enjoyment of the album. But it also ushered in every wack group making even wacker skits that ruined many a fast forward button on Sony Walkmans.

-Every single from the album is a certified “classic”. From “Plug Tunin”, to “Potholes In My Lawn” (which I still don’t care for all that much), to “Me, Myself & I”, to one of the greatest posse cuts of all-time in “Buddy”, to the wishy washy “Say No Go”, they all are heralded among some of the best tracks in hip hop history.

-The whole creative output that was put into the album is still amazing. The whole album is a hodge podge of great lyrics and amazing beats. The concept is just amazing and ground breaking. To me, it rivals Beastie Boys’ Paul’s Boutique as one of the most creative efforts ever released.

-It made being a hippy in hip hop a cool thing. Sure, they would go back t
o hate this image later on, but Tommy Boy did a great job of marketing this. It’s the D.A.I.S.Y Age, Y’all!

-Plug One, Two & Three had charisma, personality, and were just characters of themselves. You can definately see that in the “Me, Myself & I” video. I didn’t even like the song back in the day, and I would still watch this video. The seemed like “real people”, dudes that you went to school with.

Negatives

-If you didn’t care for them at first, you surely wouldn’t care for them after the 3 Feet High & Rising album ran it’s course. I was so sick of the D.A.I.S.Y. age, I was happy when they named the next album De La Soul Is Dead.

-I personally don’t care for a lot of the tracks on the album still to this day.

Stakes Is High

Positives

-Stakes is High as a whole album just flows together perfectly, much like most of their albums.

-While we tend to think hip hop was this great and almighty thing back in the mid 90′s, let’s not fool ourselves and think that everything was golden. It wasn’t, there was a lot of bullshit. De La is calling out that bullshit throughout the whole album. Maybe they saw were the music was going, because this album would be PERFECT for today’s scene.

-I thought Pos just tore shit up this album lyrically. He has long been one of my favorite MC’s and verses like this show why:

I’m the most from the coast of the East, then flee
Droppin more knowledge than litter, on the New York peeve
It’s me, wonder why, in the place to be
Certified, as superior, MC
While others explore to make it hardcore
I make it hard for, wack MC’s to even step inside the door
Cause these kids is rhyming, sometiming
And when we get to racing on the mic, they line up to see
the lyrical killing, with stained egos on the ceiling
My rhymes escalates like black death rates
Over music plates, being played as the rule
Kids thinking stepping to the Soul, you’re labelled fools
who claims to drop jewels but for now you do the catching
I don’t worry on what crew you run, or what section of earth
you reside, you’re not even a man
So I don’t seem it mandatory taking your pride
But I will, cause my man said Soul for the life
You cried “Keepin it real”, yet you should try keepin it right
That’s understanding microphone mathematics
Which leaves the currency in temporary world status
And when one shows he posed threat to this one
This one will make that one into none
Simple equation, zero, you shouldn’t play hero
If you can’t stand Strong like the Island I’m from

-Not to be out shined by his partner, Dave dropped one of his best rhymes ever…

Fell in love with this fish who got caught in my mesh
But yo she burned my scene up like David Koresh
I guess a diamond ain’t nothing but a rock with a name
I guess love ain’t nuttin but emotion and game
It’s a lesson well learned so praise is well due
I’m sendin off from Big I, to Kenny Calhoun
And add a reservation for the resident crew
And yo get your bowl cuz we cookin up stew
See them Cubans don’t care what y’all niggaz do
Colombians ain’t never ran with your crew
Why you acting all spicy and sheisty
The only Italians you knew was icees, niggaz price me
I’m keepin it clean, like a washing machine
And yo, get your locomotion run into full steam
I’m sending out a greeting to my man Daseem
I got a child so I gotsta get the green, right righ

-Together, both Pos and Dave dropped some memorable lines that still amaze me to this day, and this is coming from a person into beats.

Negatives

-The loss of Prince Paul. Even though I love Stakes Is High, I do miss Paul’s zaniness.

-Some say the production isn’t up to par with their previous albums. I’ll admit, this album isn’t about the production, it’s about the message and the beats do their purpose. It wasn’t supposed to be a flashy album in that way.

The Verdict

I was hitting up the record store the day Stakes Is High dropped and it did not disappoint. Like every De La album
before it, they changed shit up from the previous release. This was the De La I was able to relate to and get down with. It would be the jump off point for me going back and discovering their music that I so shamefully slept on for the first seven years. Maybe that’s why I still consider Stakes Is High as my favorite De La release. It was the first album from them that I really got into. I realize I’m probably going to be in the minority and this could turn ugly, but Stakes Is High is just a great all around record for me.

Winner: Stakes Is High

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