Today, we come together to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the album 3 Feet High and Rising. Let’s start there, and continue by giving iconic Hip-Hop pioneers De La Soul their psychodelic flowers while they’re still here. And thriving. And touring. And giving us the music that is the soundtrack of our lives.
I remember where I was when I first heard the group, straight out of Amityville, New York, and way ahead of its time. I was playing ball over at St. Francis Prep in Queens, and someone had “Potholes in My Lawn” blasting from their boom box as St. John’s alum/New York Knicks rookie Mark Jackson was making one of his patented right handed scoop passes on the far side of the court. I swear I didn’t know what was more amazing: the pass, or the awesomeness that was coming from the speakers?! It was overstimulation. It was a different kind of sound. It was vintage New York, on a Sunday afternoon in Queens. I remember saying, Who are those dudes?
It was Posdnuos, Trugoy, Maseo, and DJ Prince Paul.It… was De La Soul.
Here’s the track listing:
2. “The Magic Number”
3. “Change in Speak”
4. “Cool Breeze on the Rocks”
5. “Can U Keep a Secret”
6. “Jenifa Taught Me (Derwin’s Revenge)”
7. “Ghetto Thang”
8. “Transmitting Live From Mars”
9. “Eye Know”
10. “Take It Off”
11. “A Little Bit of Soap”
12. “Tread Water”
13. “Potholes in My Lawn”
14. “Say No Go”
15. “Do As De La Does”
16. “Plug Tunin (Last Chance to Comprehend)”
17. “De La Orgee”
20. “Me Myself and I”
21. “This is a Recording for Living in a Fulltime Era (L.I.F.E.)”
22. “I Can Do Anything (Delacratic)”
23. “D.A.I.S.Y. Age”
24. “Plug Tunin” (12 inch single)
3 Feet High and Rising is still iconic to this day, and what made it classic was the sound: it was jazz rap, eclectic sampling, a different type of Hip-Hop. They were so different, living in the D.A.I.S.Y. Age (FUN FACT ALERT: it stood for da inner sound, y’all), even the artwork was specifically curated and executed to perfection. The lyrics were clever, with so many double entendres you couldn’t even keep up. It is also said to be the beginning of alternative rap, with samples as diverse as Johnny Cash, Steely Dan, and The Turtles. “Potholes” was the first single, followed by the epic posse cut “Buddy” with The Jungle Brothers and Queen Latifah, the remix of which was even more epic than the original, featuring A Tribe Called Quest and Monie Love. It was definitely one of my favorites from the project, along with the love track “Eye Know.” The album further elevated itself with the track “Me, Myself and I,” which appealed to a broader audience, roping in an even older demographic with its George Clinton sample and addictive chorus. “Say No Go” was the track that made you want to get up and dance while paying homage to Hall & Oates. “The Magic Number” was epitome of what the fellas were about, giving you the brilliance of mathematics blended with a beat that nod your head.
The album reached #1 on the U.S. Billboard Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums, and peaked at #24 on the U.S. Billboard 200. It’s listed on Rolling Stone’s 200 Essential Rock Records and The Source’s 100 Best Rap Albums. It was also listed on Rolling Stone’s The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
Recently, De La has been on the airwaves letting fans know how much they are appreciated, and also about how they’re being robbed by their original label, Tommy Boy, who won’t pay them for streaming. It’s a black eye for the company, and a reminder of how artists were taken advantage of by their labels back in the 80s and 90s. However, the group still remains, still releasing new projects and still touring, now hitting the road with fellow legends Public Enemy and Wu-Tang Clan this spring.
But it all started with 3 Feet High and Rising.
There’s so much about this album that will stand the test of time. Thank goodness for Kelvin Mercer, Vincent Mason, David Jude Jolicoeur, and Paul Huston. Thank goodness for Amityville. Thank goodness for Hip-Hop. And most of all, thank goodness for 3 Feet High and Rising. Celebrating 30 years on wax. Today, we give them their daisies while they can still enjoy them. We celebrate the fact they’re stayed together as a group for three decades. And we look back on the music. Below are the videos released from the album, starting with “Potholes” all the way through “The Magic Number.”
Give it up one time for Long Island’s own De La Soul and their classic album 3 Feet High and Rising. Three decades strong. To paraphrase one of their songs, “De La, 30 years/Holding up like brazirres.” History makers. Still rising.
De La Soul: You are appreciated.