Review #103: 3 Feet High and Rising, De La Soul

Karla Clifton
3 min readJun 10, 2021

#103: 3 Feet High and Rising, De La Soul

Edit 8/10/2021: De La Soul officially has the rights to their own masters!!! That makes me so happy, and it means that soon, we’ll be able to listen to 3 Feet High on Spotify. Congrats to De La Soul, but also to me, myself, and I!

Edit 2/16/2022: Well??? Where is it, De La Soul?!?!?!

We’ve reached yet another milestone: The first album that I was not able to access on Spotify.

Why, you may ask? Well, according to Posdnuos, one of the three members of De La, “Our contracts on those early albums said specifically ‘vinyl and cassette.’” They actually almost reached a deal about it last year but ended up rejecting it because they were only slated to get 30% of the profits.

One of De La’s other problems is that this album is actually at the center of a pretty famous copyright case. 3 Feet High is full of samples, or bits and pieces of other songs. It’s really common in rap music; I guarantee your favorite rap song has a sample in it. Back in 1989 when this was released, you could pretty much sample as you pleased without having to pay anyone too much money, or even getting anyone’s permission. But in 1991, the Turtles’ sued De La for their 12-second sample of the Turtles’ “You Showed Me” in the song “Transmitting Live From Mars.”

This was a big deal and changed how lawsuits over samples were judged & litigated, and it is very, very controversial. In fact, I’ve been having spirited debates about whether or not this is a good thing all week. It depends on what you value more: artistic expression or fair compensation.

The upshot is that you can’t get any of their back catalog on Spotify, which is a real bummer.

I ended up listening to this via a YouTube playlist. I tried to check it out from a library, because I am an ancient hag who lives in the woods, but there wasn’t even any De La Soul in the system! You’re telling me I can check out the Sex Pistols, but not De La Soul?


“Intro” — Okay, tell the truth, could you answer these riddles: How many feathers are on a Purdue chicken? How many fibers are intertwined in a Shredded Wheat biscuit?

“The Magic Number” — This JAMS.

“Cool Breeze on the Rocks” — This song has 23 different samples in it, including “Rock With You” by Michael Jackson and several Public Enemy songs. No way all those samples could get cleared now.

“Can U Keep a Secret”Everybody in the world, you have dandruff.

“Jenifa Taught Me (Derwin’s Revenge)” — I love rap songs where they tell stories about getting burned by women.

“Transmitting Live From Mars” — This song is literally just an interlude, I can’t believe they got sued over it.

“Eye Know” — An example of an amazing sample. This song uses Steely Dan’s “Peg” as the chorus, and I’ve been listening to it nonstop for a full six months. And the music video is the most nineties thing I’ve ever seen.

“Potholes in my Lawn” — Gotta love yodeling.

“Do As De La Does” — My favorite thing about De La Soul is how they refer to themselves as “the Soul — De La, that is.”

“Play Tunin’ (Last Chance to Comprehend)” — Chuck D (of Public Enemy) reference!

“Me Myself and I” — This band belongs on Nick at Nite.

“This Is a Recording 4 Living in a Fulltime Era (L.I.F.E.)” — Bring back insane song titles!

“I Can Do Anything (Delacratic)” — Hahahahaha.

“D.A.I.S.Y. Age” — This is one of the most fun closing songs I’ve heard on an album in a while.


“De La Orgee” — Um, gross!

“Description” — This was the only song I thought was actually boring.


No, not when there was so much De La Litigation surrounding it. Put De La Soul on Spotify, I beg you!

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