Saturday, December 27, 2008

"Me Myself & I," De La Soul (6/10/89)
The latter half of '89 (which we're almost into) had a few breaths of very fresh air in it atop the chart, starting most notably with this one. "Myself" was only the second hip-hop track to scale the R&B singles chart - and considering the first was a ballad, a much stronger case can be made for the importance of this record. That's not even considering that its parent album, 3 Feet High and Rising, is still considered a hip-hop classic for all time, one that really did change up the rules of the game. No one had ever sampled - or, probably thought of - things like Steely Dan and Hall & Oates like this (even though "Myself"'s main sample is from an R&B touchstone, Funkadelic's '79 #1 "(not just) Knee Deep - Part 1"). Had they come out today, De La would likely be ghettoized as "backpacker" hip-hop, but the diaspora was wide enough in '89 for them to, inexplicably and gloriously, go mainstream. With them they brought the entire Native Tongues posse - step right up, Tribe Called Quest, Jungle Brothers, and Queen Latifah - and a fresh-faced sound. There's a lot going on, but it's not got the density of Public Enemy, nor the spare maximalism of Eric B. & Rakim. This is hip-hop that's sunny, wide-open and breathing. They sounded like no one else, which is likely precisely why they struck such a chord and made it all the way to #1. A giddy, joyous classic. A

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