De La Soul is a Grammy Award-winning hip hop group from Amityville, New York. They are best known for their eclectic sampling and quirky, surreal lyrics, and their contributions to the evolution of the jazz rap subgenre. The members are Kelvin Mercer (Posdnuos, Mercenary, Plug Wonder Why, Plug One), David Jude Jolicoeur (Trugoy the Dove, Dave, Plug Two) and Vincent Mason (P.A. Pasemaster Mase, Maseo, Plug Three). The three formed the group in high school and caught the attention of producer Paul Huston (Prince Paul) with a demo tape of the song "Plug Tunin'". Prince Paul was also sometimes referred to as Plug Four.
With its playful wordplay, innovative sampling, and witty skits, the band's debut album, 3 Feet High and Rising, was hailed as a hip-hop masterpiece. It is also the band's biggest commercial success to date, with their subsequent albums selling progressively less, despite receiving praise from critics. A measure of 3 Feet High and Rising's cross-over appeal was the fact that it was voted Album of the Year by NME Magazine, a title better known for its taste in guitar-based music. De La Soul has influenced numerous other hip hop artists such as Camp Lo, Black Eyed Peas, and Digable Planets. They were also instrumental in the early stages of rapper/actor Mos Def's career, and are a core part of the Spitkicker collective. They are the longest standing Native Tongues Posse group, after the Jungle Brothers.
3 Feet High and Rising
De La Soul's debut album, 3 Feet High and Rising (1989, but available in August 1988 in Germany), was a critical smash hit in the hip hop genre. They quickly became prominent members of the Native Tongues Posse along with A Tribe Called Quest, Black Sheep, Queen Latifah, The Jungle Brothers and others.
The single "Me, Myself and I" became a huge hit, further cementing the group's popularity. However, rock group the Turtles sued the group for sampling "You Showed Me" without permission on De La Soul's "Transmitting Live from Mars". From that point on, sampling required permission from the sources before it was released.
Lyrically, much of 3 Feet High and Rising focused on striving for peace and harmony — a message that was slowly fading from the rap community in the late 1980s. 3 Feet High and Rising also introduced De La Soul's concept of the "D.A.I.S.Y. Age" (an acronym standing for "da inner sound, y'all"). As a result, audiences were quick to peg the members of De La Soul as hippies. This stereotype greatly agitated the group's members, as they always envisioned their career as a constantly changing style. This frustration would influence their next recording sessions.
4 of the greatest questions in hip hop were also asked at the beginning of the album. What does Tuch et Lili Pu Mean? How Many times did the batmobile catch a flat? How many fibres are intertwined in one shredded wheat biscuit? And How many feathers are on a Purdu chicken? These questions all seemed absurd and have been the subject of some peculiar theories. Prince Paul, after wiping his Lottos on the Matt, said that Def Jam still had the answers in a golden enveloped locked deep in the heart of a swiss Bank account and will answer all the questions when the last album is sold. It might be a long wait.
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