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De La Soul - 'De La Soul – 'Art Official Intelligence: Mosaic Thump' (Tommy Boy)'
(Friday August 11, 2000 5:17 PM )

Released on 07/08/2000

Hard to believe, but it's been four whole years since De La last came through with an album and this, like the last joint 'Stakes Is High', sees the crew making even more stylistic space between themselves and their very own creation of the late eighties, 'the daisy age'.

In keeping with the current vogue for hip hop albums with more guests than Letterman, over 50 per cent of this album features appearances from everyone from Redman to Chaka Khan. Which may or may not have something to do with the difficulty that the crew has had finding a unique voice within contemporary hip-hop. If this is the case, then it's a shame because so many guests make it difficult for their flavour to shine.

Still, the guests are great, Busta Rhymes is provided with just the kind of beats that he needs to blow up by fellow Flip Mode Squad producer Rockwilder and it never hurts to get Tha Alkaholics' Tash on the cut – providing pure irresistible style on 'My Writes'.

On 'View', produced and performed entirely by De La Soul, Pos, Dave and Maseo rock a gentle piano riff over one of the genre's better known drum loops. Yet they manage to inject a unique rhythm into a beat which it might have been safe to assume had no surprises left for us. 'Declaration' cuts together samples from EPMD, Pete Rock and Mobb Deep and offers a wise little word of advice for emcees: "Never use the weed as a ghost writer."

The really refreshing change with De La Soul is not simply their lack of bullshit but their proud rejection of hip-hop's nihilism. On 'All Good?' they even turn street slang denial on its head, letting it be known that, "it ain't all good!" And, of course, they're right and with so much lazy commercial rap stagnating the scene and simply being accepted because…. "hey, it's all good," De La's time has returned.

If you were getting tired of the same ol' same ol' from rappers that are either dead or lazy and 20 track albums with only a few stand-outs, then this is the antidote. Certainly more consistent than either of the last two A Tribe Called Quest albums, De La Soul could yet prove themselves to be the slow burning stars of the 'Native Tongues' generation.

    by James Poletti

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