De La Soul
3 Feet High and Rising


4.0
excellent

Review

by GeorgeNelson USER (21 Reviews)
September 10th, 2013 | 5 replies | 566 views


Release Date: 1989 | Tracklist


2 of 3 thought this review was well written

3 Feet High and Rising is a good album. Right.

I’ve given it 4 out of 5, haven’t I? I know this is blasphemy but I just don’t think it’s perfect. Whatever you’re into we like it when music starts something. The Velvet Underground did punk, ‘Love to Love You Baby’ is the *** now that – joy! - Disco’s back, and I’m forever hearing about that other golden-age hip hop record, Eric B and Rakim’s ‘Paid in Full’. But there is an idea infecting everyone that albums are nothing more than symbols, that a great album is one you can associate with a great moment or attitude. What a boring way to think about it. ‘3 Feet High and Rising’ can embody whatever you want, but whether it is rockin’ or delicate, violent or flowery, a great record should give you a punch to the chest. I want something brawnier.

Everyone that says this record is wonderfully weird and light-hearted, it is. You’re right. It is a fluorescent beacon amidst angry 80s rap, and though there’s a ***ing horrible bit that goes “I saw a crocodile, he had daisies in his hat!” naff distractions are rare. It does well to avoid slushy mummy’s boy rap – Will Smith’s ‘Inhale… the country air, it’s great to be outdoors!’ thing. For the most part ‘3 Feet High and Rising’ hits the g-spot. It transmits a great sort of instinctive, punkish, teenage cool. The skits are fantastic - here’s a bit from ‘Take It Off’ – “Take those acid-washed jeans, Bell-bottomed, designed by your mama, off. Please?” And there’s more. And I’m happy. It’s uplifting and eternally bright, and more interesting than anything by A Tribe Called Quest. More Interesting, not better, though with golden-age rap that is still mission-accomplished.

This album is good, almost great, for a tonne of other reasons. I’m a cynic, I can’t help it, and I’m becoming ever more infected by Rockism. That usually involves people laughing off hip hop music as being synthetic, stroppy and tiring. Thank God this can put a stop to that. As De La Soul put it, “Criticising rap shows you’re out of order”. My cynicism can’t grab a foothold here because for every daisy-donning crocodile there’s a counter-weight, a track that masterfully dodges the sickly-sweet muck that makes me want to throw up. Try ‘A Little Bit of Soap, it’s a rascally ‘You Smell’ taunt that’s only a 0:50er. As always the sampling is ***ing great. Something else. Across the album it will sandpaper a hole into your soul and plant sunflowers. Here it is as lovingly collaged as sampling has got to be. ‘Say No Go’ is a rollercoaster, a great bit of skiffle. ‘The Magic Number’ is better. Take me Prince Paul, I’m yours.

But where is the meat? Whatever you think about it being ground-breaking, the Sgt. Pepper’s of hip hop, the answer to that eternal question ‘Why?’ it’s missing oomph. Lyrically, the trio float into the stratosphere - on ‘The Magic Number’ they actually say “The effect is ‘mmm’ when a daisy grows in your mind” – ha! But they always succeed in dragging it back down to earth with a jab at someone somewhere whose shoe laces aren’t done up round the back of the ankles. Everyone knows that’s how cool people wear them. The production should have done the same. The sampling is wacky, I’m sure I heard some Hall and Oates thrown in there, and that’s great, but I don’t want 65 minutes of low-fi ruffle and tousle. Whatever ‘3 Feet High and Rising’ has come to mean doesn’t matter. As a listen it doesn’t hit hard enough.



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user ratings (419)
Chart.
4.2
excellent
other reviews of this album
Theleftside2 (4.5)
...


Comments:Add a Comment 
GeorgeNelson
September 10th 2013



45 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I anticipate angry comments

Gyromania
September 10th 2013



15200 Comments


But there is an idea infecting everyone that albums are nothing more than symbols, that a great album is one you can associate with a great moment or attitude. What a boring way to think about it.


this so much. i think you started off very strong in your opening paragraph but then fixated too much on why this album isn't the classic many purport it to be. i would have much rather you expanded on your central thesis and flushed your ideas out better. sentences like these "Everyone that says this record is wonderfully weird and light-hearted, it is. You’re right." could probably be reworked, and you could omit certain cringe-worthy descriptors, like 'g-spot' (not as clever as it is distracting from the tone of your writing). the sarcasm could be a little subtler too: "it will sandpaper a hole into your soul and plant sunflowers". your penultimate paragraph is a little weak in delivery as well. i feel like you set out to say something so much more profound and thought-provoking than you did. overall a great effort though

HolidayKirk
Contributing Reviewer
September 10th 2013



1594 Comments


Much respect for your choice of review but an aggressive defense isn't a good read.

MeatSalad
September 11th 2013



14194 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Neg for bad writing, nothing to do with your opinion NIG

Digging: Love - Forever Changes

GeorgeNelson
September 11th 2013



45 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

What's bad about the writing?



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