I remember it clearly. I was at my cousin’s house in Indianapolis when I saw it. I saw, for the first time, a copy of 3 Feet High & Rising by De La Soul. It was on cassette and I wanted it badly! Somehow I had a blank cassette tape with me. I’m not sure if other kids my age carried blank cassettes on them or if I was just a spazz for the music, but regardless I was equipped. My cousin began the recording process for me. I didn’t realize it then, but I was about to get a bootleg copy of what would become the most influential album in my life.
There was an unforeseen problem; one I would not realize at the time, but shocked me with surprise later. My immediate family was from Evansville, IN and it was almost time to leave. So my cousin only had time to record the first side of the album for me. I didn’t realize there was even a second side… until later. I bumped the heaven out of side a of that album and loved it! So when I later realized there was another half to the album, I was so, so excited. And that second side was just as good if not better than the first!!!
This album was and is not just a collection of songs. It is an adventure with skits! Oh, the skits! My goodness the skits were so fun and quirky. As far as I know De La Soul was the first to utilize skits on such a wide scale. It wasn’t just an intro skit or interlude skit. They had skits all over the place. Songs were skits. They told me who had dandruff and who needed to take off different played-out pieces of clothing. My personal favorite was telling me who needed a luden due to bad breath.
And then there is the actual music. Wow, the rapping on that album wasn’t like anything I’ve ever heard. It was like stylish talking. They could say so much with so little. They were not wordy and overcomplicated. And they were not simple either. They were nobody else. They were De La Soul and they had incredible production too. Similar to the rapping, the beats were so different. The sampling on that album is eclectic and ground breaking. It was funky and jazzy soulful and weird. The music overall felt just right.
Sure, I had heard and enjoyed groups like Slick Rick, the Beastie Boys, Run D.M.C, Public Enemy, L.L. Cool J, and others. But, it was 3 Feet High & Rising by De La Soul that grabbed me, slapped me in the face, and said “this is what you will pursue for the rest of your life.” I hadn’t even been on this planet for a full decade and I already knew who I was. I was a Hip-hopper.
And 30 years later I still am. Hats off to De La Soul for classic, ground breaking music that has inspired so many!
Now, please excuse me as I go back to listen to side A of “3 Feet High And Rising.”
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