Sunday, November 14, 2010

3 Feet High and Rising

3 Feet High and Rising is an influential debut album from American hip hop trio De La Soul, released in 1989.

The album marked the first of three full-length collaborations with producer Prince Paul, which would become the critical and commercial peak of both parties. It's consistently placed on 'greatest albums' lists by noted music critics and publications. Robert Christgau called the record "unlike any rap album you or anybody else has ever heard." In 1998, the album was selected as one of The Source Magazine's 100 Best Rap Albums..

A critical, as well as commercial success, the album contains the well known singles such as "Me Myself and I", "The Magic Number", "Buddy", and "Eye Know". On October 23, 2001, the album was re-issued along with an extra disc of B-side tracks, and alternative versions. The album's title was inspired by a line in the Johnny Cash song "Five Feet High and Rising". The album is discussed in detail by De La Soul in Brian Coleman's book Check the Technique.

Lyrically, the album was unusual for its time. Even beside its exhortations for peace and harmony, many of the songs are personal and heartfelt recountings of early sexual intercourse ("Jenifa Taught Me"), love ("Eye Know") and insecurity regarding personal appearance and fashion ("Can U Keep a Secret", "A Little Bit of Soap" "Take It Off"). With the exception of "Do As De La Does", there is very little profanity on the album, in contrast to most hip hop albums from the time period. Many of the lyrics are humorous and/or nonsensical, and are inventive and original, stylistic predecessors of MF Doom and Busta Rhymes.

It is listed on Rolling Stones' 200 Essential Rock Records and The Source's 100 Best Rap Albums. When Village Voice held its annual Pazz & Jop Critics Poll for 1989, 3 Feet High and Rising was ranked at #1, outdistancing its nearest opponent (Neil Young's Freedom) by 21 votes and 260 points. It was also listed on the Rolling Stones The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. Released amid the 1989 boom in gangsta rap, which gravitated towards hardcore, confrontational, violent lyrics, De La Soul's uniquely positive style made them an oddity beginning with the first single, "Me, Myself and I". Their positivity meant many observers labeled them a "hippie" group. Sampling artists as diverse as Johnny Cash, Hall & Oates, Steely Dan and The Turtles, 3 Feet High and Rising is often viewed as the stylistic beginning of 1990s alternative hip hop (and especially jazz rap).

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