Friday, August 11, 2000

De La Soul - Art Official Intelligence: Mosaic Thump

De La Soul have been rap innovators since their 1988 debut single "Plug Tunin'". Their intelligent lyrics mixed with original beats and a fun peaceful message during a time of gangsta rap. They evolved into darker areas on the next few albums but kept an overriding theme to each work. Plugs 1, 2 and 3 return in 2000 with Art Official Intelligence: Mosaic Thump (their first in a planned trilogy) four years after releasing Stakes Is High.

You can tell that they had a lot of fun working on this album. 9 of 17 tracks are with guests like Chaka Khan, Redman, also Mike D and AD Rock of the Beastie Boys. The first single "OOOH." is a straight forward dance track that could easily get a crowd on the floor. "With Me" and "U Can Do (Life)" sound like classic De La Soul and probably my favorite songs on the album. Never afraid to sample a little, they use a little of The Lovin' Spoonful's "Summer In The City" for the chorus to "Thru Ya City." But amidst all this fun there is room for a serious track like "Foolin'" which deals with the music industry.

The only trouble I have with this album is that this is definitely for a more mature audience. References to marijuana and some profanity by guest rappers make this an album that I cant recommend to everyone. When part of the first track has a child repeating the alphabet and judging from previous De La material, you expect better judgment and consistency. Then again, pot smoking had previously been mentioned on their work but only subtly. Otherwise, the album is great and the collaborations alone make this worth picking up.

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