Pop: Rap's coming home
DE LA SOUL JAZZ CAFe LONDON
Thursday 18 June 1998
High-street shops are groaning with haute couture evolutions of track suits and trainers last seen in East Coast America's dodgiest housing projects, and those old school warriors, Run DMC, only recently relinquished their stranglehold on the charts with Beastie Boys collaborator Jason Nevins.
It would be tempting, then, to look to one of rap's longest-standing and most innovative acts to preside over this rejuvenation. De La Soul's 1989 album 3ft High and Rising was the form's high point, a jokey, intuitive classic, every bit as characteristic of the year as the Stone Roses' eponymous debut across the Atlantic.
The Daisy Age that the threesome were said to have heralded, proved to be nothing more than a brief respite in rap's decline. De La Soul offered rap an ironic, cerebral future at the start of the Nineties; instead it chose to water down the politicised scaremongering of more vitriolic groups such as NWA, credited for keeping their coruscating rants "real".
The Daisy Age was never going to survive gangsta rap's scathing nihilism, a fact that the group themselves recognised in their disastrous second album, De La Soul is Dead.
True to the prevailing mood in hip hop, the trio mounted a rootsy, stripped- down show last night. Free of flowery imagery, they performed with a grand piano propping up their record decks. Rap, they seemed to be saying, is coming home.
Posdunos, Dove and Mace were joined by another rapper and this addition seemed to sum up their refreshing attitude. De La Soul - while they've learnt how to party - still appeal to your better nature. The quartet rattled through 3ft High and Rising, not to get their best known hits ("Me, Myself and I" and "Hey, How Ya Doin") out of the way, but to get feet moving.
The fundamentals of hip-hop performance were there: the crowd participation, the good-time rhetoric. But they are still the only rap group you would take your mum to see.
In a sly dig at the misogyny notoriously peddled by Prodigy, De La Soul showed their liberal credentials: "Smack my bitch up? I never did it." It's hard to believe this vibrant bunch were responsible for the mordant "Stakes is High".
If De La Soul sound like social workers who found a microphone, they aren't. Other groups - Arrested Development and A Tribe Called Quest - inherited De La Soul's original intelligence, a succession that seems to suit them.
De La Soul are playing the Jazz Cafe, London NW1, tonight and tomorrow. This review appeared in later editions of yesterday's paper
game of thrones reviewWarning: spoilers
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 If I were Prime Minister: I'd give tax cuts to the rich, keep Trident, and get my football team wrong
- 2 Italian police 'reveal' what Jesus looked like as a young boy
- 3 General Election 2015: 14-year-old boy asks Nick Clegg – 'can you kill Katie Hopkins?'
- 4 University student in court for allegedly covering housemates' food in window cleaner and spit
- 5 Ryan Gosling posts tribute to 'Ryan Gosling Won't Eat His Cereal' creator Ryan McHenry
Top Gear: Jodie Kidd, Philip Glenister and Guy Martin 'in advanced talks' to join show
Eurovision 2015: What date is the song contest and who are the favourites to win?
Game of Thrones, season 5 episode 4, review: Sansa in danger of becoming another footnote in Westeros' bloody history
Jar Jar Binks is going to die unceremoniously in Star Wars: The Force Awakens
JK Rowling is 'really sorry' for killing off one of your favourite Harry Potter characters
In defence of liberal democracy
Over 50,000 families shipped out of London boroughs in the past three years due to welfare cuts and soaring rents
EU asylum policy is 'a direct threat to our civilisation', says Nigel Farage
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
General election live: SNP suspends two members for disrupting Labour rally