I’ve been waiting to hear this album since it was rumored to be a go. Anyone worth their weight in gold teeth remembers when De La Soul was the group to be reckoned with, not because they were hardcore, but because they reinvented an already new style: hip-hop. “Me, Myself & I” was one of the best songs of its time. I remember singing it with my sister as my dad fought to keep his country channel on. Weeks before, we were singing to Bon Jovi. Then De La brought hip-hop from another universe, opening the doors for anyone and everyone to enjoy. Alongside the angry Public Enemy and the street beats of LL Cool J came the uplifting vibe of De La Soul.
De La Soul is back, as fresh as a fighter with a first round knockout. “U Can Do (Life)” manages to find that mix of melodic flavor laced with candied rhymes. The guests galore are a rare occurrence, showing up side by side with De La Soul, a group not known for sharing the mic. First up is Redman on “Oooh”. Even though Redman seems to be the direct opposite of his De La brothers, it’s his rough vocal strain that gets the hook jumping. Busta Rhymes takes over the mic on “I.C. Y’All”. Chaka Khan asks if it’s “All Good?”. The most fun I had was listening to Mike D and Ad Rock from the Beastie Boys who go back to the roots on “Squat!”.
“Thru Ya City” draws on a ’70’s vibe of truth-telling funky soul. It might be one step from daisies, but it’s a fantastic fit. “Declaration” declares “your pop culture needs a diaper change.” It seems now thirteen years into their careers that De La Soul are ready to play the role of hip-hop daddies.
After a few disappointing releases, De La Soul have gotten it all right once again. Even with that said, my dad would much rather cruise to the cool styling of Willie Nelson. He just doesn’t know what he is missing.
+ rae gun