DE LA SOUL - Is Dead
Sello: 4 Men With Beards
The artwork says it all. A broken flower pot, soil spilling out like blood and three daisies wilting away. Following the
success of their groundbreaking debut 3 Feet High & Rising in 1989, with all it’s talk about the D.A.I.S.Y. Age, De La Soul had been labelled the hippies of hip-hop. And, with their follow album De La Soul Is Dead, released May 14, 1991, the group sought to set the record straight.
Produced by Prince Paul, the concept for the skits that run throughout is entirely unique. Through a fictional debate between schoolyard bullies over ‘The De La Soul Read-Along Storybook’ tape, De La Soul playfully parody and challenge the criticisms and attitudes that surrounded them at the time. E.g. “What happened to the pimps? What happened to the guns? What happened to the curse words? That’s what rap music is all about, right?”
De La Soul Is Dead is seen as edgier than 3 Feet High, touching in on themes such as role-models in gangster rap with “Who Do You Worship,” and sexual abuse in “Millie Pulled A Pistol On Santa.” While undeniably smart and providing commentary on serious issues, the record is also fun and humorous as anything. The album features brilliantly flipped samples from the likes of Funkadelic, the J.B’s, and Stevie Wonder, and the singles “Ring Ring Ring (Ha Ha Hey)” and “A Roller Skating Jam Named “Saturdays”” remain bonafide party classics today.