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De La Soul
The Grind Date
by: Sun-J

Hip hop isn't dead, and it never will be. The sound is changing with the younger generations, that is all. After enduring 15 years in the rap game, you'd think the trio of Dave, Maseo and Posdnuos (De La Soul collectively) would struggle to hang around with the new generation of rappers. Amid the strength of the Southern movement however, De La Soul have dropped yet another (their 8th) LP, The Grind Date. After years of experimenting (the Art Official Intelligence era of albums) with electronic production, De La returns to their bread and butter, eclectic soul through rap. As usual, De La Soul has successfully bridged two hip hop opposites, mainstream, and underground, which can be evidenced by the guest producers/emcees which include the likes of Ghostface Killah, Madlib, J Dilla, Dave West, Common, Carl Thomas and underground icon MF Doom.

The Grind Date opens up with "The Future" a heavy, vinyl worn instrumental. As a song, the track documents the general, 'sociolitical' personifications of the trio. "verbal Clap." produced by J Dilla of Slum Village is a blatant return to old school with its rubbery bass, and features some of the best lyrics on the album; "We run mics, let Sean run the marathon, yo raise that money son, we raising these kids..." "Shopping Bags (She Got From You)," produced by Madlib is an anti-gold digging anthem while the following track, the title track, marks the albums climax. A very political track, the song embarks on the sacrifices needed to live out an urban-day recording contract, and illuminates the side of the record industry that the John Doe fan likely overlooks. "Church" is a soulful track, though is hindered by the clutter of sounds as well as the random guest appearance by Spike Lee in the first few seconds of the track. It's very ironic, because Spike usually f**k's up movie endings, but here he is, f**king up the beginning of a song. "It's Like That" features the smooth vocals of Carl Thomas while "He Comes" borrows a sample from Eugene's "Here Comes the Sun," and features a passionate verse courtesy of Tony Starks AKA Ghostface Killah. Common joins De La, on "Days Of Our Lives," a lyrically stimulating track; "?They givin? n*ggaz inches, takin? miles and mules, it's the wildest rules, I'm tryin to walk in the black scent of proudest shoes, makin? music that the crowds can use." "Come On Down" shows Flava Fav has not run out of crack, err, I mean energy just yet, and the closing track "Rock Co. Cane Flow" perfectly masks MF Doom's abstract style behind menacing drums so the combination blend correctly.

One of the standouts of the album, is the lack of skits. The Grind Date is just twelve tracks of 3rd generation hip hop. This album may not catch the attention of younger listeners with Southern allegiance, but will definitely grab the attention of anyone who has been around hip hop for some time. From start to finish, in my opinion, the album does not disappoint.


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