Local Wire

De La Soul

It's difficult to overstate the impact of De La Soul's debut release, 3 Feet High and Rising. Spawned by a thriving New York scene with artists such as KRS-One, Kool Moe Dee and Big Daddy Kane, De La Soul took rap in a different direction, eschewing the heavily funk and soul-influenced sounds as well as the battle-rap braggadocio that ruled the day, in favor of goofy, lighthearted humor and skits, and music that drew from a far wider palette, including pop, reggae, jazz and rock. The group's clever, literate rhymes reached out to college radio, and, with Native Tongues posse peers Queen Latifah, A Tribe Called Quest, and the Jungle Brothers, planted the seeds of the conscious rap movement. While remaining true to its roots, De La's pursued a number of guises across its subsequent six albums, trying to balance credibility and artistic vitality (a difficult task in the age of thug rap) while making a number of good albums -- regrettably, none that matched the power and energy of its debut.