Out of the many trios in hip-hop history —Injury Reserve, Migos, The Fugees, Beastie Boys —De La Soul might be the most underappreciated. For one, most of their music isn’t even available on digital streaming services, so those who missed out on listening to their earlier work, which includes the vibrant and jazzy 1994 record Buhloone Mindstate and the don’t-call-us-hippies anti-labeling 1991 album De La Soul Is Dead, are stuck using YouTube as their De La streaming source. This is due to a long-running negotiations battle with Tommy Boy Records, who owns a bulk of the group’s catalog, and won’t budge on any agreement that gives De La Soul more than 10% of their potential streaming profit. It’s a shame. “We’re in the Library Of Congress, but we’re not on iTunes,” De La member Posdnuos, once depressingly told the New York Times.
The De La project recognized by Library Of Congress is the group’s 1989 debuting, genre-defining album, 3 Feet High and Rising, which came out concurrently with the rise of acts like N.W.A. and Public Enemy. The album showcased rappers who weren’t concerned with their more aggressive (though equally legendary) contemporaries, but rather, focused on peace, love and positivity. It also was an assemblage of eclectic sounds and perpetual motion, thanks to producer Prince Paul grabbing every record he could find to sample from, and Maseo occasionally scratching on his turntables across a few tracks. According to Discogs, the album boasts more than 60 different samples.
Now, thanks to YouTuber nama hecc, we can hear the source for nearly all samples Prince Paul used on 3 Feet High and Rising, and where exactly they fit on the album. From the Rock Steady Crew to Johnny Cash to Kraftwerk to Barry White to Commodores, this album is a sprawling collection of sound that showcase what gave so much soul to De La’s debut. It’s a wild ride hearing this 10-minute journey through Prince Paul’s record crates, and it’s easy to hear De La’s clever incorporation of those very samples.
Those of you wanting to support De La Soul’s work can stream their later works, including 2004 album, The Grind Date, and their Kickstarter-funded 2016 record, and the Anonymous Nobody.
[Via Ambrosia For Heads]