3 Feet High and Rising

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3 Feet High and Rising
Studio album by De La Soul
Released March 3, 1989 (1989-03-03)
Recorded 1988–1989 at Calliope Studios, Brooklyn, New York
Genre Alternative Hip Hop, psychedelic hip hop
Length 65:59
Label Tommy Boy/Warner Bros. Records
01019
Producer Prince Paul
De La Soul chronology
3 Feet High and Rising
(1989)
De La Soul Is Dead
(1991)

3 Feet High and Rising is the debut album from the American hip hop trio De La Soul, released in 1989. It 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.[1] Robert Christgau called the record "unlike any rap album you or anybody else has ever heard."[2] In 1998, the album was selected as one of The Source Magazine's 100 Best Rap Albums.[3]

A critical, as well as commercial success, the album contains the singles, "Me Myself and I", "The Magic Number", "Buddy", and "Eye Know". In 2001, the album was re-issued along with an extra disc of B-side tracks, and alternative versions. The album title came from the Johnny Cash song "Five Feet High and Rising".[4] 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.[5]

Reception and influence[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 5/5 stars[6]
BBC favorable[7]
RapReviews.com 10/10[8]
Robert Christgau A−[9]
Rolling Stone 3/5 stars[10]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 5/5 stars[11]
Tiny Mix Tapes 5/5 stars[12]
Trouser Press favorable[13]
Uncut 5/5 stars[14]

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).[15]

"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."[10]

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".[16] In 2012, Slant Magazine listed the album at #9 on its list of "Best Albums of the 1980s".[17]

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."[18]

Macy Gray felt it was "the best record of the past 15 years" in a Q magazine review: "They're like The Beatles of hip hop."[19]

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. [20]

"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.

Coincidentally, Steely Dan’s album Aja, from which 3 Feet High and Rising samples, was also named to the registry that year.[21]

The album is also credited with introducing the hip hop skit, a style of comedic sketch used both to introduce rap albums and as interludes between songs.[22]

Artwork[edit]

De La Soul's 3 Feet High and Rising album artwork, Giclée print

The album's artwork was designed by Toby Mott's and Paul Spencer's radical British art collective the Grey Organisation (GO).[23][24] 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.[25] GO also began designing album covers for groups such as Information Society[26] and De La Soul, most notably 3 Feet High and Rising.[27]

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".[27]


Track listing[edit]

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.

No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Intro"     1:41
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
7. "Ghetto Thang"     3:36
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
12. "Tread Water"     3:46
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
19. "Description"   Davis 1:32
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
23. "D.A.I.S.Y. Age"     4:43
24. "Plug Tunin'" (Original 12" version)   3:43

Personnel[edit]

Information taken from Allmusic.[28]

  • 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

Charts[edit]

Album
Charts (1989)[29][30] Peak
position
UK Albums Chart 13
U.S. Billboard 200 24
U.S. Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums 1
Single
Year Single Peak chart positions[31]
Billboard Hot 100 UK Singles Chart[29] Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks Hot Rap Singles Hot Dance Music/Maxi-Singles Sales Dance Music/Club Play Singles
1988 "Plug Tunin'"
1989 "Potholes in My Lawn" 22
"Me Myself and I" 34 22 1 1 1 1
"Say No Go" 18 32 11 13 3
"Buddy" 18
1990 "Buddy" 8 2 11 27
"The Magic Number" 7
"Eye Know" 14

"—" denotes releases that did not chart.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Tower.com: The Planet's Entertainment Destination for Music, CDs, Movies, DVDs, Books & more". Towerrecords.com. Archived from the original on 17 July 2011. Retrieved 2011-08-16. 
  2. ^ "Playboy Feb. 1989". Robert Christgau. Archived from the original on 3 July 2011. Retrieved 2011-08-16. 
  3. ^ "Source Magazine's 100 Best Albums". Raquenel.com. Retrieved 2011-08-16. 
  4. ^ Brian Coleman (12 Mar 2009). Check the Technique: Liner Notes for Hip-Hop Junkies. p. 152. 
  5. ^ "The National Recording Registry 2010". Library of Congress. Retrieved April 10, 2011. 
  6. ^ Allmusic Review
  7. ^ "BBC Review". Bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 2011-08-16. 
  8. ^ "Review". Rapreviews.com. 2005-05-31. Retrieved 2011-08-16. 
  9. ^ "Robert Christgau Review". Robertchristgau.com. Archived from the original on 16 July 2011. Retrieved 2011-08-16. 
  10. ^ a b Azerrad, Michael (1997-01-21). "3 Feet High And Rising". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2012-06-13. 
  11. ^ The new Rolling Stone album guide - Google Books. Books.google.com. Retrieved 2011-08-16. 
  12. ^ Joseph, Mister. "Tiny Mix Tapes Review". Tinymixtapes.com. Retrieved 2011-08-16. 
  13. ^ "De La Soul". TrouserPress.com. Retrieved 2011-08-16. 
  14. ^ "The 500 Greatest Hip Hop albums plus the other ones that are honorable mention.". Rate Your Music. Retrieved 2011-08-16. 
  15. ^ Robertson, Glen A. (2005) [2003]. "342". In Levey, Joe; Telling, Gillian; Rockland, Kate. Rolling Stone's The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time 1. Design Director: David Matt, Designer: Andrew Horton, Photo Editor: Deborah Dragon, Copy Editor: Corey Sabourin, Contributors: Pat Blashill, Nathan Brackett, Anthony DeCurtis, Matt Diehel, Chuck Eddy, Ben Edmons, Gavin Edwards, Jenny Eliscu, David Fricke, Elysa Gardener, Andy Greene, Mark Kemp, Greg Kot, Joe Levy, David McGee, Rob O'Connor, Parke Puterbaugh, Austin Scaggs, Karen Schoemer, Bud Scoppa, Rob Sceffield, David Thigpen, Barry Walters (1 ed.). Wenner Books, 1220 Avenue of Americas, 2nd floor, New York, NY 10104: Wenner Media, LLC. p. 191. ISBN 1-932958-01-0. OCLC 70672814. 
  16. ^ Q August 2006, Issue 241
  17. ^ http://www.slantmagazine.com/music/feature/best-albums-of-the-1980s/308/page_10
  18. ^ "Features | Baker's Dozen | Baker's Dozen: UNKLE'S James Lavelle On His 13 Favourite Records". The Quietus. 2011-04-20. Retrieved 2011-08-16. 
  19. ^ Q, October 2001
  20. ^ "The National Recording Registry 2010." Retrieved from the Library of Congress Web Site on April 8, 2011.
  21. ^ "The National Recording Registry 2010." Retrieved from the Library of Congress Web Site on April 8, 2011.
  22. ^ Rytlewski, Evan (2012-02-16). "Phasing out the skit: How hip-hop outgrew one of its most frustrating traditions". A.V. Club. Retrieved 2012-02-16. 
  23. ^ http://www.complex.com/art-design/2010/09/Hip-Hops-50-Greatest-Album-Covers/de-la-soul-2
  24. ^ "De La Soul - 3 Feet High And Rising (Vinyl, LP, Album) at Discogs". Discogs.com. 2007-08-28. Retrieved 2011-08-16. 
  25. ^ http://www.standard.co.uk/lifestyle/toby-mott--from-the-punk-of-pimlico-to-power-player-6512037.html
  26. ^ http://www.discogs.com/Information-Society-Whats-On-Your-Mind-Pure-Energy/release/98872
  27. ^ a b http://www.hypergallery.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/de-la-souls-3-feet-high-and-rising-by.html
  28. ^ "allmusic ((( 3 Feet High and Rising > Credits )))". Allmusic. Retrieved 2009-10-28. 
  29. ^ a b Warwick, Neil; Kutner, Jon; Brown, Tony (2004). The Complete Book of the British Charts: Singles & Albums (3rd ed.). Omnibus Press. p. 303. ISBN 1-84449-058-0.
  30. ^ "allmusic ((( 3 Feet High and Rising > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums )))". Allmusic. Retrieved April 17, 2010.
  31. ^ "allmusic ((( 3 Feet High and Rising > Charts & Awards > Billboard Singles )))". Allmusic. Retrieved April 17, 2010.

External links[edit]