Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Best of the 80's: 3 Feet High and Risin' by De La Soul

3 Feet High & RisingUnless you were present in 1989 it is hard to explain just how different this album sounded from every piece of hip-hop anyone had ever heard up to that point.  Listening to this album for the first time was similar to watching Raiders of the Lost Ark in the theater on opening night.  It was a mind blowing experience which marked a new front in music and a new path for hip-hop. 

There are multiple areas in which this album is so important.  One is the sampling.  These guys tapped into everything for samples.  This is important because it allowed De La Soul to create a sound that no one had managed before.  It was light at times, pop at times, funk at times, even country at times.  It showed that hip-hop didn't have to be so heavy, so formulaic in its structure and allowed people that followed to delve much deeper for samples than they had done previously.  Another is the voice.  These guys aren't the voice of the inner city, but the voice of the suburbs.  They are interested in funny stuff, interested in love, interested in societal problems.  But they rap about it in a smart, friendly way that strips away the anger that was such a strong part of so much rap which came before.

If the album has a fault it is the goofy fill ins which were fun in 1989, but feel tired and played today.  If you strip those out and just focus on the fully constructed songs you'll find that you have not just one of the best hip-hop albums ever made, but one of the best debut albums ever made. 

There is never a bad time to play this album and is a great choice for a day of spring cleaning.

Following the Rhapsody rating method I give it 4 out of 5 stars for Really Good. Currently this album sits at number 58 on the Best of the 80's list.


  1. I am crushed that this album failed to receive its fifth star.

  2. Wow. July 31, 1989 ... that is a good moment in the history of Earth.