When I reviewed Common Sense's 'Resurrection,' I had to listen several additional times again to determine if it was worthy of a 10. It was. With this album, there was never a single doubt in my mind. In my opinion, 'De La Soul Is Dead' is the finest example of hip hop music ever put on a single LP.
Perhaps the best thing about this album is that it challenges your every opinion of it. With the perfect skits showing the typical rap fans slamming it, De La anticipated what most people would think of it and managed to make sure it wasn't found in any garbage cans. These skits also brought continuity into the LP, and gave it a sense of personality that most hip hop albums lack.
Maybe the best thing about this album is the sense of humour, which not only pervades the skits but also most of the tracks. How many hip hop groups could pull of a song as inspired as the Burger King employees slam 'Bitties In The B.K. Lounge'? Would many hip hop groups have the balls to make a straight diss to one of the time's most popular musical genres like 'Kicked Out The House'? And whilst you always hear rappers moaning about getting demo tapes, how many of them make a song about it? And how many of them make it their lead single on the follow-up to a platinum album?
Lyrically, this album is also dope. Although the concepts are so dope that Blinky Blink would have a hard time making a bad joint out of them, both Trugoy the Dove and especially Posdnuos take these concepts and run with them. 'Afro Connections At Hi 5,' for example, would have fallen flat if not fot the inspired gangsta parodies of both MCs plus Maseo (Plug Three, De La's DJ). And their alternative rhyming styles (as evidenced on 'Oodles of O's' and 'Pease Porridge') were also both innovative and plain incredible. By today's standards this album would probably be considered poor lyrically, but somehow this never occurs to you while you listen to it.
And with Prince Paul at the helm, the beats are obviously infallible. 'A Roller Skating Jam Named "Saturdays"' utilized a number of 70s samples to create an incredibly dope disco-style beat (and Maseo's cuts also boost it up). Not to mention the excellent 'My Brothers A Basehead,' with its unbeatable vocal sample and variety of other instrumental samples thrown in to make Pos' rhymes sound even better than they always do. And on one of the few more serious moments, Paul delivers an incredibly tight beat for 'Millie Pulled A Pistol On Santa.' In the words of Pos: "This is the styling for a title that sounds silly / But nothing's silly about the trifling times of Millie."
I could write a review this long for almost every track on this album, but that's not the point. 'De La Soul Is Dead' is, in my insignificant opinion, the benchmark which every hip hop album should try and mould itself on. People still say that 'Three Feet High and Rising' is the better LP, and still more people will say that De La have done little noteworthy since this album. But whatever you say, you cannot deny the greatness of this record. A true hip-hop classic in every sense of the phrase. If you don't own this record, I envy how you will feel when you come to your senses and finally pick this up.