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De La Soul :: Are You In?


Reviewed on Wednesday, April 29, 2009 by The Machine

A wise man once said, “…America had turned every older band into the reunion band.” Well, ok, it was actually Billy Corgan who said that, but the point is, there is a lot of truth to that statement. Whether it be indie, rock, techno or even hip-hop, fans always have this insatiable appetite for material that is “classic.” Understandably so; putting on a favorite song is a lot more practical than pushing a highly-modified Dolorian up to 88mph. People want the music that takes them back in time to memories sweeter than the present. De La Soul is definitely no stranger to this phenomenon either. You’ve got those who miss their ’96 classic Stakes is High, while others still insist that they “dumbed it down” on said album and need to get back to their 3 Feet High and Rising roots. Well, sorry guys; what’s done is done. It should be no secret by now, but De La Soul has always been and will always be about forward movement. Their Nike/Flosstradamus collab Are You In? is not the former or latter’s “part 2” by any means. It is a little bit of everything though…and it is damn good (or “dat piff” as the kids might say).

There are a lot of terms being thrown around to describe exactly what this project is. Some say “full-length album” while others say “workout album.” Neither term really describes it well though. Weighing in at 45 minutes and less than ten “songs,” it’s hard to attach “full-length” to this one. On the flip side, even though Flosstradamus did a superb job of mixing every track together seamlessly, calling it a “workout album” discredits its depth and intellect. So, being the “???” that it is, there’s everything from funk-electro-hop and boom-bap to hip-n-roll, jazz breakdowns, 80’s freak out jams and all around freshness on Are You In? Lyrics? Well, duh! It’s De La friggin’ Soul. Don’t think that Nike watered them down. Truth be told, they come pretty hard.

So, why not just slap five stars up top and call it a day? Because while this project is fantastic, it just doesn’t wholly satiate the senses the way a long-awaited album needs to [since I have a strange suspicion the majority has been counting down since ‘04’s The Grind Date and not 2006’s The Impossible: Mission TV Series – Vol.1]. The production is fantastic, De La go in with the lyrics and Flosstradamus tied everything together perfectly though. So what’s keeping us from being jovial and wetting ourselves? It just isn’t enough. It feels like a dear friend who is in town for only a day or two, after being away for a long time: the conversation and time spent together is always great, but never enough. It’s great to see these three visionaries again; let’s just hope that they stay a bit longer next time.

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