RAVEN MACK is a mystic poet-philosopher-artist of the Greater Appalachian unorthodox tradition. He does have an amazing PATREON, but also *normal* ARTIST WEBSITE too.

Wednesday, April 18

EWA100 - #58. De La Soul - Me, Myself & I

58. De La Soul - Me, Myself & I (Tommy Boy. 1989. From the LP 3 Feet High And Rising)

Mike Dikk: I tend to read a lot of lists pertaining to music. Hell, I tend to make a lot of lists pertaining to music. It’s just what I do. I’m only capable of writing well in blurbs because of this whole I WANT MY MTV A.D.D. generation I’m a part of that makes my brain stupid. Anyway, if you’re like me and you read a lot of lists in bigger, mainstream magazines, specifically about hip hop, you’ll notice a lot of them are made solely to put either 3 Feet High And Rising or Paul’s Boutique in the top spot. Some more progressive lists will even throw DJ Shadow’s Endtroducing in there too, depending on the criteria. Any average moron can tell you what these three records have in common. They all rely heavily (in Entroducing’s case, completely) on samples. In fact, 3 Feet High... and Paul’s Boutique came out a mere eight weeks apart from each other. Both records shared similar ideas and Paul’s Boutique was supposedly recorded and finished before 3 Feet High..., but De La Soul beat them to the punch and got most of the initial acclaim for their sampling technique while most people panned Paul’s Boutique until years later.

Even though all three albums share a gigantic common bond, 3 Feet High And Rising stuck out the most to me. Simply because it’s the only record out of the three that I “Got” when it was initially released. Like most people, I wasn’t too keen on Paul’s Boutique when it first came out because it didn’t sound like Licensed To Ill and I was too young to understand that sometimes musicians had to evolve. Even to this day, I don’t think that record is as great as everyone makes it out to be. Yes, it’s good, but it’s mostly good because it sounds so unique and it’s something that can’t ever be legally duplicated. Endtroducing, on the other hand, I think is a phenomenal album and one of the all-time greatest records of any genre, but it took me at least three years to wrap my head around it. I didn’t understand what the fuck was going on when I first heard it. It was supposed to be a hip hop record but there were no lyrics and the songs were well over six minutes long. There was no way to logically dance to it or even rhythmically nod your head.
However, 3 Feet High... hooked me from the beginning. It was the first time I actually cared about the how the music was made. Before then, you could have told me that there was some super computer hidden in the Swiss Alps that generated beats from old James Brown records and randomly handed them out to people interested in rapping, and I would have believed you. Once I heard this record that was not only using a billion samples per song, but some were even recognizable to me and my novice ears, I had to get to the bottom of it. It’s why I’m such a big fan of Prince Paul to this day. When this record was blowing up, Prince Paul was interviewed on BET I believe, and they asked him how he came up with such weird shit for the record. He said that there were beats everywhere and you had to look hard to find them. He then threw some Mickey Mouse Club 45 on a turntable and played it backward, and sure enough, there was a beat.
There are very few records I care to physically own. This is one of them, just because it means so much to me, and it kind of led the way to me being a smart ass know-it-all music nerd, on top of providing me a soundtrack to 6th grade. In all honesty, I like De La Soul and all, but this record was more about Prince Paul than De La. The whole hippie Daisy Age vibe never phased me because I wasn’t paying attention to the lyrics. Also, Hip Hop as a whole was in such a creative and experimental stage at that point in time that every rap record sounded different from one another. It was many years later that I found out this record kind of sparked the whole dorm room rap movement that we all know and love today.
The song “Me, Myself and I” really holds no significance to me though, outside of being the first De La song I heard and being their most well-known single from that record. I could have chosen any number of songs from the record to take this spot, or an even higher one if I had my way, but it makes everything easy and uniform when you pick the big single that everyone knows.

Raven Mack: I bought the 3 Feet High And Rising tape at a truck stop back when truck stops were infamous for selling bootleg tapes. Oddly enough, I think I got Paul’s Boutique at the same spot. 3 Feet High And Rising was great shit when I was in high school, because with my predominantly black school where thuggishness was a badge of honor with too many people, the potential to get your ass kicked over something stupider than the white dude stepping on the peanut-faced dude’s shoes in Do The Right Thing was always there. So 3 Feet High And Rising sort of caused certain more goofy-natured potential-thug brothers to adopt that puffy crooked hair style and wear goofy necklaces, although nobody I remembered really got full-on into the stupid shirts and shit too. It toned down the potential for violence, ever so slightly.
I never disliked 3 Feet High And Rising until I went to college and was forced to realize there were completely clueless white kids who had only grown up around other white kids and only hung out with other white kids and would only know other white people and were predestined to have white kids running around white cul-de-sacs driving white SUVs and voting for white people to keep things smooth and interest-laden for their collective white futures, and I guess I was tripping on the acid at a party full of those kids (seriously, it may be hard to believe, but growing up a piece of shit white kid in a piece of shit half-black/half-white piece of shit part of rural Virginia, I had no idea that shit existed) and watching them be them and this one dude played 3 Feet High And Rising like seven times that night and it all just made me sick to tripped-out stomach.
I also feel that everything De La has done, studio album-wise, since then, has been overrated as misunderstood genius music. I’m not saying it sucks, but it’s definitely music that holier-than-thou know-it-alls are apt to get up in arms and act like it’s the best shit ever and you’re ignorant for not making a separate playlist for it on your ipod, even though you don’t even have an ipod.
As for this song being here instead of any other De La song, I think back to the single-oriented nature of a lot of the black kids I grew up around. They didn’t go collecting records like white kids did really, or if they did, they didn’t keep old shit forever, which is probably a good personal habit. But this was the big single off that album, and were you to have an old school throwback show on Sunday afternoons blaring over some loudspeakers up in the trees at whatever public park in your city that folks go to to wax their cars and Armor All the tires, this De La Soul song would get more people to go “OH SHIT!” than any other song off 3 Feet High And Rising. And that is the essence of the Hip Hop Jam basically – if twenty years later it can create that nostalgic euphoria in random collections of people. I know this list is listed upon the internet where it’s more important to highlight your misunderstood genius status and make a list of the best 100 songs ever and have like German-released EPs by The Artifacts and England-only b-sides to Paris singles and shit, but all that doesn’t mean a goddamned thing on a Sunday afternoon to Mr. Old School Dude cleaning his Cutlass up just right at the park with a pint of gin in a cooler in the trunk.

Download: De La Soul - Me, Myself & I

Watch the video:

BONUS VIDEO! Here's a 7 minute documentary/short type thing that acted as an introduction to De La Soul. This is where I saw the thing with Prince Paul playing a Mickey Mouse record. He doesn't actually play it backwards though. That was just my retarded memory kicking in.

No comments: