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RapReview Of The Week

[The Grind Date] De La Soul :: The Grind Date
Label: AOI/Sanctuary Records

Author: Steve 'Flash' Juon

De La Soul has been hella busy this year; so busy in fact that as of this writing three albums have come out this year: "Live at Tramps, NYC, 1996" came out on May 25th (Tommy Boy), "Remixes, Rarities and Classics" came out on June 8th (Rhino Records), and "The Grind Date" was released on October 5th. And yes y'all, I knew the release date had been bumped up a week thanks to a >Best Buy ad in the Sunday paper, but suspiciously the store closest to where I live didn't have any on the shelf that fateful Tuesday morning. Perplexed and not pleased, I copped the only other new album I was aware of (I-20) and tried to make the best of it. Then a few days later I got an electronic message from Archmage - did you start typing up the De La lyrics for OHHLA yet? "I wish, the store didn't have any." He procedes to inform me it did in fact drop as (re-)scheduled, so I decided to try again. Hot damn! "The Grind Date" did indeed arrive, so now I was behind on three De La Soul albums instead of just two. Aww shit, for a man who confessed to be their biggest fan, my track record was turning out to be pretty lousy. Well y'all, it's time for me to start catching up at long last - October 12th is now my OWN grind date as I grind out the first of three overdue reviews. Before we go any further though, let's start with the first single off "The Grind Date," which is "Shopping Bags (She Got From You)." It's produced by Madlib, mixed by Young Guru, and made hot and fresh by Kelvin Mercer (Plug One a.k.a. Wonder Why a.k.a. Posdonus) and David Jolicoeur (Plug Two a.k.a. Dove a.k.a. Dave). Additional vocals provided by Daniel Wallace. Now you know the facts, but do you know why this shit is mo' betta than a Cinnabon? Because when you go to the mall to get one, you'll be humming this catchy tune ABOUT shopping bags. It's a song which is not actually for materialism, but IS about a material girl - and I don't mean Madonna:

Pos: "You live to show, all the cash that you can burn
What you need is to end it, cause you give the dough
But get no ass back in return {*HA, HA HA*}
Stay laughin, straight at you dog
Best believe, you wastin time
Don't deny what's happenin, just clear the fog
And achieve you a peace line"

Dave: "Her frame goes beyond thick, she got you stunned
Livin it up off the pop hits
Like a dame on a Bond flick, she's not the one
To give it up 'til you cop shit
Just because she's stacked right, she got your soul
Her every wish you now obey
You should be on that actright, but she got control
She say jump you scream, 'OKAY! I'M RELOADED!'"

Now that's the real shit, the shit to make you feel shit, and like Mobb Deep said I'm gonna OD on it cause it's never enough. It's an example of De La Soul at their finest when they hit on all cylinders - funny, intelligent, funky fresh hip-hop. At just over 49 minutes long the twelve tracks of "The Grind Date" seem to fly by WAY too fast, but the good news is that their replay value is especially high. De La takes a whole minute and a half to build up to the music in "The Future," but it's well worth the weight, and you can't hate on Supa Dave West's production or the funky fresh samples out the Jackson family archives. "Verbal Clap" is one of J-Dilla's illest beats to date, while Pos ably compares their hip-hop to food: "I call 'em words from me that take long to cook/so some feel free in sayin that we don't hunger for beats/not that we not hungry, just picky in what we eat." That picky behavior continues to pay off as J-Dilla hooks them up on the soul-stirringly beautiful "Much More." Supa Dave West kicks in again on the uplifting title track, Ninth Wonder splits musical atoms on "Church," West is back again on the super soulful "It's Like That" featuring Carl Thomas. What - you noticed West seems to be holding down every other beat? Well why not - he's been as much the third member of the group as Maseo for quite a while now, and the day he turns in something I don't like is a rare day indeed. As Pos says on the track that would be "like Slick Rick without the eye patch." Is it any wonder then that he makes "He Comes" with Ghostface Killah one of the most surprisingly hot duets in hip-hop history, or that he's the right one to introduce the world to Butta Verses on "No"? Don't front on Jake One though, he's all that and a bag of chips on "Days of Our Lives" featuring Common, and the surreal fast and slow flipping of a "Deliverance" sample on "Rock Co.Kane Flow" featuring MF Doom.

Now if you had to spin back the review and read all that again, I don't blame you. Carl Thomas? Ghostface Killah? Common? MF Doom? That's one hell of a guest list, and I didn't even mention the insane one himself Flava Flav dropped in for the Madlib produced "Come on Down" where he correctly notes that "De La Soul, is now back on the map; Long Island, is now back on the map; good rap music, is now back on the map!" True indeed. In a year where the flu vaccine is in shortage, you might want to try "The Grind Date" if you happen to get sick - I mean that. This is musical medicine of the highest caliber, but it's not a bitter pill to swallow in any way. In fact, you won't even realize how much good it's done you until you're already done with it, and on your way back for a booster shot. No matter how raw and uncut their "Rock Co.Kane Flow" is, when MF Doom says "battle for your Atari cartridges or put your kicks up" you'll be thrownback more than a retro jersey could ever do, to an era where being doper was more important than being the most wealthy. It's not as though Metalface walked in and had to give the album's final track an adrenaline shot though - if anything it sounds like De La Soul gave it to him, by going above and beyond the call to link up and swap fresh doses of lyrical dopeness. So here's my advice to anybody who was concerned that De La was over, that they fell off, or that the long drought between 2001 and 2004 meant they didn't want to make hip-hop any more. They were just waiting for the right time to kick precisely the right rhyme, so that "The Grind Date" would go down not just as an important date in rap history but in the pantheon of all musical endeavours since the dawn of mankind. It's that damn good.

Music Vibes: 10 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 10 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 10 of 10

Originally posted: October 12, 2004
source: www.RapReviews.com


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