Wednesday, May 31, 2023

De La Soul – De La Soul Is Dead 2xLP


Chrysalis / AOI  (2023, Reissue) 

Every Wednesday, in honor of Ed Lover Dance Day from Yo MTV Raps, I take a break from rock and roll to write a little bit about hip hop. In the late 80s and early 90s hip hop ruled my musical life. During this often called 'Golden Era' I discovered so much incredible music. As I am slowly replacing the CDs I've had for twenty-five plus years with vinyl copies, I'm going to talk about some albums that had a really important impact on me during some very formative years.

When I wrote about 3 Feet High and Rising, I had mentioned how I had a complicated relationship with De La Soul, never having liked them quite as much as I felt I was supposed to.  With the reissues coming out at affordable prices, I figured I would pick up the important ones and try to give them really, dedicated listens.  I really wanted to figure out if I had been missing something all of these years.  The short version of the story is that I have been missing some things, but others I had pegged from day one.

De La Soul is Dead is a different album than 3 Feet High and Rising.  The beats are less innovative and I think things feel a bit more cohesive to me as a result.  Again, I have a much deeper appreciation for 3 Feet these days and it has some incredible songs on it, but De La Soul is Dead speaks to me more.  The production is a little darker and harder, but in no way is it actually dark or hard, if that makes any sense.  Lyrically, they took a pretty big leap forward and the flows of everyone are more dynamic, while still maintaining that laid back groove that has always been their hallmark.

That said, much like on their debut, the skits on this album drive me crazy.  They are such momentum killers and they unnecessarily drag out the album.  I know they tell a story and I also know a lot of people really love them as they were very inventive at the time.  But I can't think of a single album that was ever made better by one skit, let alone a dozen of them. Cut out the fat and this is a much, much better album, at least when it comes to what I want to hear.  But at the end of the day, the actual songs on here do make this a great album and one that I wish I had spent more time with back in the 90s.

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