"De La Soul told you the nineties were going to be very different to the eighties."
Psychedelic, undeniably funky and underpinned by elements of Afro-futurism, De La Soul's landmark 1989 debut LP 3 Feet High and Rising is a defining album of 80s rap, marking the espousal of the 'Daisy Age' spirit which permeated hip-hop at the turn of the 90s.
A term coined by the NYC rap group themselves, The 'Daisy Age' stood for “Da Inner Sound, Y’all", serving as a a catch-all banner under which any colourful and non-conforming hip-hop groups with conscious, positive minded lyrics could get behind.
The Daisy Age sound revolutionised an era, adopted by many of hip hop's greatest contemporaries. Artists such as Queen Latifah, A Tribe Called Quest and the Jungle Brothers, all sat alongside De La Soul as members of the Native Tongues collective - pushing forward a message heavy but feel good sound.
We're extremely excited to present a Rough Trade Essential Edition Tommy Boy reissue of 3 Feet High and Rising; from this still very much loved era of hip hop, a masterpiece which is unable to appear in digital form because of the many samples the band used.
To celebrate this glorious new exclusive edition and the album's entry into our Essentials range, we asked friend, musician, journalist and Daisy Age enthusiast Bob Stanley (check out his fantastic 2019 compilation) about the importance and influence of this seminal release...
"1989 and 1990 were both proper long hot summers. The primary colours of 3 Feet High And Rising suited the weather to a tee. It also suited the post acid house state of Britain in 1989, with a sleeve as distinctive and garishly bright as the Happy Mondays’ Bummed. It was still getting regular spins round our way the following summer: I have a strong memory of having Jennifa, Taught Me stuck in my head for a fortnight during Jennifer Capriati's run to the Wimbledon semis; the sound and the mood chimed with Lady Miss Kier and Betty Boo's outfits on Top Of The Pops. De La Soul told you the nineties were going to be very different to the eighties.
1989 would be an incredible year for hip hop in general. Albums by 3rd Bass and Gang Starr were great but forbiddingly cool, the latter with their overt jazz refs that indicated knowledge and adulthood. But there was also the Jungle Brothers' Done By The Forces of Nature, all positivity and playfulness, and they were probably just as au fait with Horace Silver, they just didn't feel the need to flaunt it. 3 Feet High and Rising took the Jungle Brothers’ baton and ran with it. They sounded like kids, which was hugely appealing. They chucked in bits of French language lessons, Otis Redding's whistling and the odd random sample that you might come across on a Kent compilation of sixties soul - The Mad Lads' Make This Young Lady Mine provided the guitar intro and brass hook on Eye Know.
What a record it was. As an American sound collage of American pop history, it sat alongside the Beach Boys' Smile. There were samples from Hall and Oates and Steely Dan which wouldn't really be standard reference points until many years later (it's quite mind-churning to think I Can't Go For That was only seven years old when it was sampled on Say No Go). After the rigidity of the eighties, De La Soul were loosening up time, using the best bits of the past and adding them to the best current thinking. In 1990 Simon Reynolds would come up with the phrase retro futurism and apply it to groups like World Of Twist, but De La were already exemplars.
When 3 Feet High first came out me and Pete Wiggs were living in Croydon, writing fanzines; Pete was fixing computers for a living and I was working at Sock Shop HQ, trying to get regular work at Melody Maker. By the time the follow up De La Soul Is Dead was released, me and Pete were sharing a pad in trendy north London, we'd met lovely Sarah Cracknell, and we had finished recording Foxbase Alpha. Essentially, 3 Feet High gave me and Pete Wiggs a starter pack in songwriting, with song structures based around samples from any place you fancied. Ransacking your own record collections for the quirkiest, catchiest pop culture snippets was actively encouraged. Staying abreast of exciting sounds coming out of New York, Detroit, Manchester and Glasgow, fusing them with car boot sale finds, adding suburban in-jokes, this was all legitimised by 3 Feet High And Rising. We owe it."
Don't miss our 3 Feet High and Rising playlist on Spotify
To share with your buddy or just me, myself and I, explore tracks influenced by and sampled on De La Soul's seminal masterpiece.