De La Soul
Stakes Is High


2.0
poor

Review

by Andrew Barr (MM8) USER (65 Reviews)
August 2nd, 2007 | 24 replies | 7,903 views


Release Date: 1996 | Tracklist

Review Summary: In a nutshell, this CD is completely forgettable and generally useless. It possesses very little of the flamboyancy the De La Soul once had.

4 of 8 thought this review was well written

There are few things in this world more disheartening than for one to see his/her former idol fall out of their prime and begin to suckle at the teats of mediocrity. For, like it or not, we all share a special bond with our heroes. We watch in marvel at every move they make and when they succeed we bask in their glory as if it were our triumph as well. As a result, when said heroes start to show signs of weakness and begin to seem not quite so untouchable our whole worlds come crashing down.

In the music industry it’s not at all rare for that to happen. Millions of little girls across the globe were sent into a frenzy when Ashley Simpson was caught lip-syncing on Saturday Night Live. Upon the release of Metallica’s Load metalhead’s threw tantrums before falling to their knees in front of their James Hetfield posters and howled to the heavens, “WHYYYYYYY?”. Even the highly acclaimed hip-hop faction De La Soul couldn’t keep it in gear forever. Starting out in the late 1980’s, De la Soul were best known for their diversity, quirky lyrics and contributions to the development of jazz-rap. Unfortunately, the groups 1996 release, Stakes Is High, hardly embodies any of the jazz influence that helped put De La Soul on the map and there is also a noticeable decline in lyrical quality.

Although there was evident deterioration in the lyrics eminency, that’s not at all to say this album didn’t have its moments. The album’s title track Stakes Is High nicely exemplifies this. The preaches about the gradual decay of not only hip-hop music, but hip-hop culture in general. One of the tracks most memorable lines comes from Posdnous, “Gun control means using both hands in my land. However, while there are memorable lyrical captions like that, there are phrases that just a bad as the aforementioned example is good. In the very same track Dave epitomizes my point. He rants, “I’m sick of bitches shakin’ asses, I’m sick of talkin’ about blunts, sick of Versace glasses, sick of half ass award shows, sick of brand name clothes. Ironically enough, as Dave goes on with his tirade about how generic hip-hop has become and about the poor quality of it he’s being rather generic himself. Dave’s above line is basically the exact same thing you would here in most hip-hop songs, he just replaced “I have” with “I’m sick of”.

Another thing this album struggled with was catchiness. Very few songs had any lasting effects on me. Even after hearing songs several times I struggled to recall the tune after only five minutes. Two of least appealing songs are definitely Sunshine and Pony Ride. They’re not exactly poor in quality, they just lack distinctiveness. There was no zest, or pizzazz. Have you ever been drinking a Slush Puppy and, without realizing it, sucked all the juice through your straw so that you end up with not but a cup of ice. The ice barely has any flavour in it and gives you know enjoyment, but you eat it anyway. Why? Because you paid for it. In a metaphorical sense, the two aforementioned tracks are that leftover ice.

While the two tracks mentioned in the above paragraph were probably the album’s worst songs, they were not the only songs of sub-par quality. This album has some pretty major qualms with filler. There are 14 tracks in total and it could easily be cut down to eight or nine. The five-or-so forgettable tracks really weighed the disc down and the fact that none of tracks that should be here were particularly great didn’t help anything either.

Stakes Is high was De La Soul’s first album to not be produced be Prince Paul. Rather than having Prince Paul, a professional producer, produce the album De La Soul decided to take a crack at producing themselves. Regrettably, it did not turn out well. The production was noticeably sketchy on all tracks and the sad thing is some better production could have provided the zest this album so desperately needs.

In summary, this CD has overall decent lyrics, is not memorable, has little to no playback value, a lot of filler, no really memorable tracks and lacking production. It’s a classic example of a band that’s been around for too long running on empty. Fortunately, De La Soul would redeem themselves later in their career with a couple solid releases. This CD, however, is completely unmemorable and undistinguished. Unless you are an avid De La Soul enthusiast, avoid this.



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user ratings (97)
Chart.
3.8
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
metallicaman8
August 2nd 2007



4677 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

This was really, really fucking hard to write. Anywho, it was my assignment for the review a random album game. Hope I did a decent job.

EDIT: Oh, and for some reason the album art didn't work when i tried to upload it. One of the mods will probably put it up son though.This Message Edited On 08.02.07

The Door Mouse
August 2nd 2007



2092 Comments


Pretty good review. Could have been a bit more descriptive but it was written very fluently. You get pos'd

pulseczar
August 2nd 2007



2385 Comments


[quote=metallicaman]
EDIT: Oh, and for some reason the album art didn't work when i tried to upload it. One of the mods will probably put it up son though.[/quote]
go edit your review/album and try uploading again. usually it works the second or third time.

Tyler
Emeritus
August 2nd 2007



7925 Comments


You know that they didnt produce this entire album themselves right? I mean, J Dilla produced on there.

Review seems really...concrete. Like, I know it's really not your bag but it's really obvious that you framed a lot of your opinions around what other people had to say. Furthermore, I get the impression that it's a lot of bios talking here, not your own opinion. Obviously the rating is your own, since this album is typically well received, but this just felt a little unnatural.
Some awkward sentences, a lot of "like i mentioned before/aforementioned" and, I dont know, it's kind of choppy

Upload the album from your computer, not from a link. Then it'll work.This Message Edited On 08.02.07This Message Edited On 08.02.07

DFelon204409
Emeritus
August 2nd 2007



3995 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I like this album a lot.

Otisbum
August 2nd 2007



1912 Comments


Great review, mm8.

Fort23
August 2nd 2007



2469 Comments


Good review, especially when your streeeetched.

metallicaman8
August 2nd 2007



4677 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

You know that they didnt produce this entire album themselves right? I mean, J Dilla produced on there.

Review seems really...concrete. Like, I know it's really not your bag but it's really obvious that you framed a lot of your opinions around what other people had to say. Furthermore, I get the impression that it's a lot of bios talking here, not your own opinion. Obviously the rating is your own, since this album is typically well received, but this just felt a little unnatural.
Some awkward sentences, a lot of "like i mentioned before/aforementioned" and, I dont know, it's kind of choppy


I don't even know who J Dilla is, tbh. I really had no business reviewing this album, but hey, I was delt it so I did my best. You're wrong about this not being my opinion of the album, though. I'm thinking maybe you think these aren't my opinions because I made a lot of reference as to how this doesn't compete with a lot of DLS's earlier works, despite this being, presumably, the only album of there's I've heard. You should know, however, that I spent about 2 hours today researching the band and listening to tracks from DLS's other albums, which is why I was able to compare this to thier other stuff.

Anywho, basically anytime I review hip-hop it's going to feel unnatural. It's just not something I'm comfortable reviewing. I'll try and work out some of the awkward sentences and choppy writing later.

Tyler
Emeritus
August 2nd 2007



7925 Comments


I'm not saying it wasn't your opinion, just saying it seemed like you were uncomfortable putting this in your own words or something...that still sounds wrong.
It was a solid review considering the circumstances, I'd just maybe sit on it for a bit then re-read it.

smokersdieyounger
August 3rd 2007



672 Comments


I think that especially considering he wasn't lknowlegable of the band, this is a really good review. He's put in alot of effort of research n stuff. What are the other random reviews from this game?

LF96
August 4th 2007



97 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Decent review, but I disagree pretty much completely.
I love this album. Yes, it was a step away from the style they had been doing on their first three albums, but I think it was a good evolution. I also think the production on this album is very solid. The fact that De La Soul's production style leans closely towards the production style of J Dilla makes that this album has a good feel of coherence. And Sunshine is one of my favourite tracks on this album...


DFelon204409
Emeritus
July 6th 2008



3995 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I just realized that mm8's summary of the old De la Soul style that he values in this review was essentially copied from wikipedia.

michaelbchnn
September 28th 2008



41 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I remember this album came out the same day It Was Written by Nas did. And all the hip-hop nerds went nuts over this album and completely destroyed It Was Written, so much for that.

sanjusanjusanju
December 31st 2008



3 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

there is soooo much that is flawed and just straight up ignorant about this review.

first: the minimalist production was a statement against mainstream hip hop. they wanted to tone things down so that the listener was forced to concentrate on the lyrics. that being said, these beats bump hard, and to my ears it works better than anything prince paul could have conjured for this work.

and about those lyrics: yeah people have spoken out about how stupid the whole bitches and ho's trend was/is in hip hop. even in 96 it had probably been done before, i don't know by who. but nobody like de la soul, nobody with as much relevance, respect, and seniority had spoken up. and that's important.

but i mean forget about that, because this is just good, enjoyable hip hop, for true heads. and if you don't enjoy it right off the bat, don't dismiss it, because this is not an album that will convert you to hip hop. this is for the already converted.

ckunke002
February 9th 2011



1033 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

If you don't know who J Dilla is, you have no right writting a review on this album.

This is easily a 4.5, maybe even a 5 star album. How 4 people agreed with this review is far beyond me.

Chrisjon89
March 25th 2011



2984 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

If the title track is any indication, I need to get this.

I think 2Pac took offense to that and kind of called them out on one of the Makaveli tracks.

Digging: Elizabeth Rose - Elizabeth Rose

Hocmat
July 15th 2011



648 Comments


The title track is so stupid good

Hocmat
July 15th 2011



648 Comments


Never listened to the whole album, I have no say on that.

Chrisjon89
July 15th 2011



2984 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Kind of bloated and a bit monotonous in parts, but pretty solid. The title track is just about the pinnacle of hip-hop for me.

It's still pretty relevant 15 years on too.

ckunke002
July 15th 2011



1033 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

There isn't one song on this whole album I would even call unnecessary.



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