3 Feet High and Rising
||This article possibly contains original research. (February 2009)|
|3 Feet High and Rising|
|Studio album by De La Soul|
|Released||March 3, 1989|
|Recorded||1988–1989 at Calliope Studios, Brooklyn, New York|
|Genre||Alternative hip hop, psychedelic hip hop|
|Label||Tommy Boy/Warner Bros. Records
|De La Soul chronology|
The album marked the first of three full-length collaborations with producer Prince Paul, which would become the critical and commercial peak of both parties. It is consistently placed on 'greatest albums' lists by noted music critics and publications. Robert Christgau called the record "unlike any rap album you or anybody else has ever heard." In 1998, the album was selected as one of The Source Magazine's 100 Best Rap Albums.
A critical, as well as commercial success, the album contains the well known singles, "Me Myself and I", "The Magic Number", "Buddy", and "Eye Know". On October 23, 2001, the album was re-issued along with an extra disc of B-side tracks, and alternative versions. The album's title was inspired by a line in the Johnny Cash song "Five Feet High and Rising." The album is discussed in detail by De La Soul in Brian Coleman's book Check the Technique. It was selected by the Library of Congress as a 2010 addition to the National Recording Registry, which selects recordings annually that are culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.
The song "Ghetto Thang" is one of the few non-positive tracks on the album. It is a story about poverty and other social ills, even though De La Soul is from middle-class suburb Amityville, New York (on Long Island). Its denunciation of ghetto violence can be summed up in the words "Ghetto gained a ghetto name from ghetto ways/Now there must be ghetto gangs and ghetto play/If ghetto thing can have its way and get arranged/Then there must be some ghetto love and ghetto change". "Description" describes each member of De La Soul, and a few others, in five lines each, the style reminiscent of a limerick.
Reception and influence
|The Rolling Stone Album Guide|||
|Tiny Mix Tapes|||
It is listed on Rolling Stones' 200 Essential Rock Records and The Source's 100 Best Rap Albums (both of which are unordered). When Village Voice held its annual Pazz & Jop Critics Poll for 1989, 3 Feet High and Rising was ranked at #1, outdistancing its nearest opponent (Neil Young's Freedom) by 21 votes and 260 points. It was also listed on the Rolling Stones The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. Released amid the 1989 boom in gangsta rap, which gravitated towards hardcore, confrontational, violent lyrics, De La Soul's uniquely positive style made them an oddity beginning with the first single, "Me, Myself and I". Their positivity meant many observers labeled them a "hippie" group, based on their declaration of the "D.A.I.S.Y. Age" (da inner sound, y'all). Sampling artists as diverse as Johnny Cash, Hall & Oates, Steely Dan and The Turtles, 3 Feet High and Rising is often viewed as the stylistic beginning of 1990s alternative hip hop (and especially jazz rap).
"An inevitable development in the class history of rap, [De La Soul is] new wave to Public Enemy's punk," wrote critic Robert Christgau in his Consumer Guide column's review of 3 Feet High and Rising. "Their music is also radically unlike any rap you or anybody else has ever heard — inspirations include the Jarmels and a learn-it-yourself French record. And for all their kiddie consciousness, junk-culture arcana, and suburban in-jokes, they're in the new tradition — you can dance to them, which counts for plenty when disjunction is your problem."
Rolling Stone magazine gave the album three stars and concluded that it was "(o)ne 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."
It was ranked 7 in Spin's "100 Greatest Albums, 1985–2005", ranked 88th in a 2005 survey held by British television's Channel 4 to determine the 100 greatest albums of all time. In 1998 , the album was selected as one of The Source's 100 Best Rap Albums. In 2003, the album was ranked number 346 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. In 2006, Q magazine placed the album at #20 in its list of "40 Best Albums of the '80s". In 2012, Slant Magazine listed the album at #9 on its list of "Best Albums of the 1980s".
- On the Billboard Music Charts, 3 Feet High and Rising hit #1 R&B/Hip hop and #24 in the Top 200.
- "One of the greatest albums ever made" – NME
- "The Sgt. Pepper of hip hop" – Village Voice
- #5 on the top 100 Albums of the Century – Spex
- Top album of 1989 – The Face
Electronica artist James Lavelle cited 3 Feet High and Rising as one of his favorite albums "It was definitely a reaction to the slightly more hardcore area of what was going on in hip hop. As a concept record, it’s probably one of the best ever. It’s like the Pink Floyd of hip hop, their Dark Side of the Moon – the way it musically and sonically moves around, but also the use of language was so unusual and out there."
In 2011, 3 Feet High and Rising was among 25 albums chosen as additions to the Library of Congress’ 2010 National Recording Registry for being cultural and aesthetical and also for its historical impact. “America's recorded-sound heritage has in many ways transformed the soundscape of the modern world, resonating and flowing through our cultural memory, audio recordings have documented our lives and allowed us to share artistic expressions and entertainment. Songs, words, and the natural sounds of the world that we live in have been captured on one of the most perishable of all of our art media. The salient question is not whether we should preserve these artifacts, but how best collectively to save this indispensable part of our history." — James H. Billington from the Library of Congress.
In 2011, the album was named to the 2010 registry of the National Recording Preservation Board of the Library of Congress. Coincidentally, Steely Dan’s album Aja, from which it samples, was also named to the registry the same year.
The album's artwork was designed by Toby Mott's and Paul Spencer's radical British art collective the Grey Organisation (GO). In 1986 Mott and Spencer had moved from London to New York after GO's infamous paint attacks on Cork Street art galleries and they were working as a bicycle messengers. By 1989, GO were exhibiting their paintings around the East Village and working as art directors for Tommy Boy Records and MTV (among others) making music videos for various groups, such as Public Enemy, A Tribe Called Quest, and The Rolling Stones. GO also began designing album covers for groups such as Information Society and De La Soul, most notably 3 Feet High and Rising.
Mott describes the process of designing the album cover in his essay 'Hip Hop in The Daisy Age': "We have come up with the 'Daisy Age' visual concept. De La Soul visit our loft where we lay them down on the floor facing up, their heads making a triangle. We photograph them whilst hanging precariously off a step ladder, one idea being that the cover would not have a right way up. CD's [sic] have yet to be the dominant musical format so the vinyl album sleeve is our most effective way of making a statement. We layer the brightly-coloured hand drawn flower designs made with Posca paint pens on acetate over the black and white photographic portrait print, which is rostrum camera copied. This is well before the time of Apple Macs and scanning etc. [...] The intent of the design of De La Soul's, 3 Feet High and Rising LP cover is to be new and bright, with the overlaying of the fluorescent flowers and text reflecting a synthetic pop cartoon look [...] This is a move away from the prevailing macho hip hop visual codes which dominate to this day".
Though the idea was quickly abandoned, the original concept behind the group was that Mase was PA and Posdnuos and Dove were the microphone plugs, transmitting messages from Mars. This is the origin of the nicknames for Posdnuos and Dove, Plug One and Plug Two, respectively. The title 3 Feet High and Rising comes from a Johnny Cash song called "Five Feet High and Rising" ("How high's the water, Mama?/It's three feet high and rising"). This song is sampled on the album.
All songs written by Paul Huston, David Jolicoeur, Vincent Mason and Kelvin Mercer, except where noted. Artists sampled by the group are officially credited as songwriters for tracks 3, 9, 14 and 20. All songs produced by Prince Paul and co-produced by De La Soul.
|2.||"The Magic Number"||3:16|
|3.||"Change in Speak"||Huston, Jolicoeur, Mason, Mercer, Patrick Patterson, Steve Scipio||2:33|
|4.||"Cool Breeze on the Rocks"||0:48|
|5.||"Can U Keep a Secret"||1:41|
|6.||"Jenifa Taught Me (Derwin's Revenge)"||3:25|
|8.||"Transmitting Live from Mars"||1:12|
|9.||"Eye Know"||Walter Becker, Donald Fagen, Huston, Jolicoeur, Mason, Mercer||4:13|
|10.||"Take It Off"||1:53|
|11.||"A Little Bit of Soap"||0:57|
|13.||"Potholes in My Lawn"||3:50|
|14.||"Say No Go"||Sara Allen, Daryl Hall, Huston, Jolicoeur, Mason, Mercer, John Oates, Scipio||4:20|
|15.||"Do as De La Does"||2:12|
|16.||"Plug Tunin' (Last Chance to Comprehend)"||Jolicoeur, Mercer||4:07|
|17.||"De La Orgee"||1:14|
|18.||"Buddy" (featuring Jungle Brothers and Q-Tip)||Jonathan Davis, Nathaniel Hall, Huston, Jolicoeur, Mason, Mercer, Michael Small||4:55|
|20.||"Me Myself and I"||George Clinton, Huston, Jolicoeur, Mason, Mercer, Philippé Wynne||3:50|
|21.||"This Is a Recording 4 Living in a Fulltime Era (L.I.F.E.)"||3:10|
|22.||"I Can Do Anything (Delacratic)"||0:41|
|24.||"Plug Tunin'" (Original 12" version)||3:43|
|2001 reissue bonus disc|
|1.||"Freedom of Speak (We Got Three Minutes)"||2:58|
|2.||"Strickly Dan Stuckie"||0:42|
|3.||"Jenifa (Taught Me)" (12" version)||4:42|
|4.||"Skip to My Loop"||1:12|
|5.||"Potholes in My Lawn" (12" version)||3:46|
|6.||"Me Myself and I" (Oblapos Mode)||3:31|
|7.||"Ain't Hip to be Labeled a Hippie"||1:50|
|8.||"What's More (From the Soundtrack Hell on 1st Avenue)"||2:05|
|9.||"Brain Washed Follower"||2:49|
|10.||"Say No Go" (New Keys Vocal)||4:53|
|11.||"The Mack Daddy on the Left"||2:31|
|12.||"Double Huey Skit"||3:52|
|13.||"Ghetto Thang" (Ghetto Ximer)||3:52|
|14.||"Eye Know" (The Know It All Mix)||7:12|
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (November 2012)|
Plug Tunin' (Original 12" Version)
- "Written on the Wall" by The Invitations
- "Son of Shaft/Feel It" by Bar-Kays
- "Stiletto" by Billy Joel
- "Midnight Theme" by Manzel
A Little Bit of Soap
- "Written on the Wall" by The Invitations
- "Hit or Miss" by Bo Diddley
- "Girl I Think the World About You" by Commodores
Can U Keep a Secret
- "Got to Get a Knutt" by New Birth
Change in Speak
Cool Breeze on the Rocks
- "Crap Game" by Richard Pryor
- "Rocket in the Pocket (Live)" by Cerrone
- "Rock Music" by Jefferson Starship
- "Rock With You" by Michael Jackson
- "Bounce, Rock, Skate, Roll" by Vaughan Mason and Crew
- "Shake You Down" by Gregory Abbott
- "King of Rock" by Run-D.M.C.
- "Rock the Bells" by L.L. Cool J.
De La Orgee
- "Get Out of My Life, Woman" by Lee Dorsey
- "Sing a Simple Song" by Sly & the Family Stone
- "(Sittin' On) the Dock of the Bay" by Otis Redding
- "Make This Young Lady Mine" by The Mad Lads
- "Peg" by Steely Dan
Freedom of Speak (We Got Three Minutes)
- "Mary Had a Little Lamb by Sarah Josepha Hale
- "Funky President" by James Brown
- "Rock Creek Park" by The Blackbyrds
- "Trans-Europe Express" by Kraftwerk
Jenifa Taught Me (Derwin's Revenge)
- "Shout" by The Isley Brothers
- "Soupy" by Maggie Thrett
- "Think (About It)" by Lyn Collins
- "Take the Money and Run" by Steve Miller Band
- "Chopsticks" by Liberace
Me Myself and I
- "Funky Worm" by Ohio Players
- "(Not Just) Knee Deep" by Funkadelic
- "Rapper Dapper Snapper" by Edwin Birdsong
- "Gonna Make You Mine" by Loose Ends
- "Written on the Wall" by The Invitations
- "Chopsticks" by Liberace
Potholes in My Lawn
- "Little Old Country Boy" by Parliament
- "Synthetic Substitution" by Melvin Bliss
- "I'm Gonna Love You Just a Little More Baby" by Barry White
- "Magic Mountain" by Eric Burdon and War
- "Cookies" by Brother Soul
Say No Go
- "I'm Chief Kamanawanalea (We're the Royal Macadamia Nuts)" by The Turtles
- "Baby Let Me Take You (In My Arms)" by Detroit Emeralds
- "Crossword Puzzle" by Sly Stone
- "Best of My Love by The Emotions
- "I Can't Go for That (No Can Do)" by Hall & Oates
Take It Off
The Magic Number
- "The Crunge" by Led Zeppelin
- "Reading the Comics - July, 1945" by Fiorello La Guardia
- "Five Feet High and Rising" by Johnny Cash
- "Different Strokes" by Syl Johnson
- "Funky Drummer" by James Brown
- "Three Is a Magic Number" by Bob Dorough
- "Hit by a Car by Eddie Murphy
This Is a Recording 4 Living in a Fulltime Era (L.I.F.E.)
Transmitting Live From Mars
- I Likes to Do It" by People's Choice
- arranger – De La Soul, Prince Paul, Trugoy the Dove
- assistant production – De La Soul
- engineering – Bob Coulter, Sue Fisher
- assistant engineering – Greg Arnold
- layout design – Steven Miglio
- mixing – Prince Paul, Al Watts
- performers – Jungle Brothers, Q-Tip
- production – Prince Paul
|UK Albums Chart||13|
|U.S. Billboard 200||24|
|U.S. Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums||1|
|Year||Single||Peak chart positions|
|Billboard Hot 100||UK Singles Chart||Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks||Hot Rap Singles||Hot Dance Music/Maxi-Singles Sales||Dance Music/Club Play Singles|
|1989||"Potholes in My Lawn"||—||—||—||22||—||—|
|"Me Myself and I"||34||22||1||1||1||1|
|"Say No Go"||—||18||32||11||13||3|
|"The Magic Number"||—||7||—||—||—||—|
"—" denotes releases that did not chart.
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