De La Soul – “3 Feet High and Rising” (1989)

October 21, 2008 at 3:50 pm (Fran Fried, Music, Reviews & Articles)

This article was written for the Waterbury Republican, April 30, 1989, by former local music writer Fran Fried. I ran into Fried once at Brass City Records in Waterbury (back in the early 90s), and used to read his articles religiously, 20 years ago.
I would like to thank him for turning me on to many great records and bands that I had not heard of, up to that point (XTC, The Fleshtones, The Hello Strangers, etc.), including this one. He was a good writer and it’s a shame he no longer writes about music for a living. He had a real passion for it, which always came through in his articles.
As far as I know, he now edits The Fresno Bee out in Fresno, CA. I hope he doesn’t mind me posting this here…  

 

Rap, Warped 

New De La Soul album is original rollercoaster ride.

Is this New York crew a happy bunch of hippie rappers, as their album’s dayglo flower-power cover would have you believe? Yes. Well, not really. Well, maybe. I just can’t figure what the hell they are. They put you through so many changes you don’t know which end is up – but wherever you land, you get there with a smile on your face.

It’s getting harder and harder to wring something original out of rap and hiphop. But damned if these brothers from another planet – P.A. Pacemaster Mase, Posdnous and Trugoy, by name – haven’t given us the most unusual album of the year and the most original rap LP ever given birth. You just listen to the record and spend half the time smiling, the rest dropping your jaw and saying “Wot the –?!?”   

So how do I like De? Let me count the ways:

The cover: Yeah, I know, you can’t play it and you can’t judge a book and all that. It may not be the loudest album you’ll hear, but it’s one of the loudest you’ll ever see. James, fetch me my shades…

The changes alluded to above: It’s like going on one of those Great Adventure rollercoasters with the twists and turns and 20 loops. One second, they’re giving you some dopey high-school girl tale (“Jenifa Taught Me”), then they’re absolutely serious (“Ghetto Thang”), then they’re giving you a scratch version of – dig this – a French instruction record! Me-Me-Me-Me-Merci, messieurs. (Warning: Don’t eat before you get on the ride.)

O-rig-i-nal-i-tee: Yeah, everyone samples nowadays, and, like everyone else, they’re guilty of dipping into the James Brown. But most of their stuff comes from way out in the bullpen: the French record, Steve Miller’s “Take the Money and Run” in “Jenifa”; the fresh “Eye Know,” which jumps back and forth between Otis Redding’s final dock whistle and Steely Dan’s “Peg”; “A Little Bit of Soap,” a short funny built around the title line of the Jarmels’ oldie; and if that ain’t enough – Hank Williams yodels in “Potholes in My Lawn.”

Well, y’know, it’s got a nice beat, it’s easy to dance to…I give it a 90: Back to originality – they prove you don’t need to pump the bass to Godzilla levels to get people to move. (In fact, “Take It Off” is a rip on the whole standardized homeboy style). It’s the most melodic rap-hop record ever cut.

“Me, Myself and I” (that’s already been a hit) lets you dance yourself silly, as you sway to a psychedelic hypnofunk groove. “Change in Speak” gives you a lazy soul rap and a horn-driven J.B. sweat at the same time. “Tread Water” is simply rock steady.

Well, that’s all the petals I have room to pick. Do the rest yourself. Thank you for your support.

Fran Fried

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Sly Stone – TV News Interview

October 21, 2008 at 10:54 am (Music, Sly Stone)

Probably from the early 80s…Sly at home & in his studio right before he went into semi-retirement…

Surprisingly, he seems pretty lucid here. 

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