12 years practically unheard of in the rap game. Simply possessing a record deal for that many years makes a big statement. Yet, since the milestone Three Feet High and Rising was released in “89, the native tongue crew De La Soul has maintained a steady fan base by providing a constant counterpoint to the sporadic hip-hop trends of the “90s. Perhaps the most salient aspect of De La”s music is the carefree playfulness they bring to hip-hop, which combines well with the crew”s intelligent style and positive themes. And while they may have lost some of the more hardcore heads with their first installment of Art Official Intelligence, they gained even more listeners from the popular music sector.
The second installment Bionix contains 18 tracks of, simply put, quality music. No song will grace the billboard charts, but I would not have the album without any of them. Thankfully, De La has cut down on the cameos. Now, most come from soul artists a sad step down from the likes of the Tribe, the JB”s, Common Sense and Mos Def, who graced the tracks of previous albums.
The album”s number one single “Bay Phat” is a hilarious ode to the natural shape of a woman. Long time fans will be pleased with lighthearted party tracks like “Simply” (which samples, get this, Paul McCartney”s “Wonderful Christmas Time”) and “Simply Havin”.” “Peer Pressure” offers some advice that should be particularly relevant to students here at the University. I especially like Bionix because, as with all De La albums, it mixes it up with a variety of song types, spare beats and the occasional skit. Ultimately, no song is simply a carbon copy of another.
Granted, De La has sacrificed much of its Afro centricity for a more popular sound, and the crew is now following more trends than it is setting. But the qualities that initially made De La so great intelligent, playful rhymes and quality beats still remain, proving that hip-hop artists do not carry a half-decade shelf life.