De La Soul has already mastered the three j‘s of postmodernism: juxtapose, juxtapose, juxtapose. Welcome to the first psychedelic hip-hop record.
Throughout twenty-four tracks, the band combines a bewildering variety of sounds culled from sources as disparate as a scratchy French-language-instruction record, Steely Dan’s “Peg,” Liberace and countless Seventies-soul rhythm tracks (including the obligatory James Brown samples) in ingenious and unexpected ways. Nothing if not zany, 3 Feet High and Rising boasts a serious Cheech and Chong influence, including a running gag of an absurd game show.
The uncanny sonic collages are as catchy as they are clever, and the mellow, bass-heavy grooves are tailor-made for blissful hip shaking. Lyrics range from social consciousness (“Ghetto Thang”) to stream of consciousness (“I Can Do Anything”). One of the most original rap records ever to come down the pike, the inventive, playful 3 Feet High and Rising stands staid rap conventions on their def ear.