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My review of De La’s first studio LP in 12 years will be short and sweet, because over analyzing music, IMO, tends to take quite a bit away from sitting back, distractions minimal, and genuinely enjoying what the artist took a piece of their life to make for you. From that point forward, you can make your own decision biased free, but until you get to that point void of preconceived notions, best to avoid forming an opinion. Don’t ever listen to a piece of work once and base your input on first reaction — that’s what teenagers in 2016 do. Go for a long drive, or sit your ass down without your cell phone or laptop and simply, LISTEN.
The first thing I noticed was this was a record made for much more than your regular De La heads that constantly whine for their early projects or the Dilla-esque vibes of Grind Date or anyone stuck so vehemently in the past that they refuse to believe that a group that’s been on the road for 30 years isn’t going to end up being influenced by the countless artists they’ve performed and collaborated with while touching damn near every corner of the globe, not to mention simply growing up and expanding your artistic repertoire.
*side note (for the DJs): the thing that chaps my hyde more than anything is all the so called heads that claim there’s no bangers to play in the club on this record, when those same clowns done switched up their shit a long ass time ago and don’t even play Native joints in their sets anymore no way. There, I said it.
Collaborations are plenty, my favorites being 2 Chainz actually showing he can kinda rap his ass off, dude from the band that sang that crazy ass song with the ill space video “I Believe In A Thing Called Love” (Justin Hawkins/The Darkness), and Little Dragon. I love the fact that they spent a healthy portion of their kickstarter budget on getting folks on the project that basically made everyone scratch their fuckin’ heads. I love that this is a sit your ass down and pay attention to what’s happening in the music kinda record. I simply kinda love that everyone was confused by what they were doing as a whole with this project. Fuck I really love when artists that I love just toss all their shit out the window and do something completely new and unexpected. That is why they are still here, cuz they’re still interesting. Every important group in music does exactly that, and De La, for Hip-Hop, are that genuinely important group.
“Fuck everyone. Burn everything.”
Here’s the thing. De La never really gave a shit about mass appeal, so why would they start now. I mean, they are charting heavy all across the map so there’s that, but it’s also obvious that they didn’t set out to make a record for rap nerds, which is fantastic. My tastes in music change constantly, and I wouldn’t expect any less from one of the farthest reaching artistically open minded groups that have ever blessed the genre. This record isn’t for everybody, and in many ways that’s what makes it for everybody. It’s not rap shit, it’s not boom bam shit, it’s grown man shit but also very universal with its endless amounts of twists, turns, and variety. When you set out to make a record that defies categorization, you generally end up gaining more open minded fans anyway, especially when the record transcends and shows the broad spectrum of said artist. When your 30+ years into the game and pushing 50, isn’t that kind of the point?