Review #228: De La Soul Is Dead, De La Soul

Karla Clifton
3 min readJan 21, 2022

Review #228: De La Soul Is Dead, De La Soul

One of the things I appreciated about our last album, Here’s Little Richard (#227) was its compactness. De La Soul Is Dead is twice as long as Little Richard’s debut, and I’ll admit to having been a little overwhelmed at first.

But the great thing about a long album done right is that there’s so much to sink your teeth into. Each time I listened, I noticed another detail or subplot. One example: the many mentions of De La’s “donut shop” (whatever that means). (See: “Talkin’ Bout Hey Love” and “Pease Porridge.”) They also name drop Burger King so many times, I started to wonder whether or not they were sponsored by BK. (See: “Johnny’s Dead AKA Vincent Mason (Live from the BK Lounge)” and “Bitties In The BK Lounge.”)

There are two types of skits here. The first are snippets of a group of teenage boys bullying each other while they listen to the record. (See: “Intro,” “Skit 1,” “Skit 2,” “Skit 3,” “Skit 4,” and “Skit 5,” when they finally declare that Man, De La Soul is dead.) The second are sound bites from WRMS, a fictional radio station dedicated to the trio. (See: “WRMS’ Dedication To The Bitty,” “Rap De Rap Show,” and “WRMS — Cat’s in Control.”) There’s so much going on here that part of me wonders if they could have dropped one of these rhetorical devices to have a shorter, cleaner record. But I also delighted in the messiness of it, and some of the skits are genuinely hilarious.

Of course, that’s just window dressing. There are some plain excellent songs on here. “Oodles of O’s” is a testament to De La’s literary rap skills, and “Ring Ring Ring (Ha Ha Hey)” is a testament to their catchiness. The most fun one is “A Roller Skating Jam Named ‘Saturdays,’” which would fit right in on 3 Feet High and Rising, #103. “Keepin’ The Faith” has a Bob Marley sample that is totally transformed.

That said, some of them are so dark, it’s hard to believe they’re De La songs: “Millie Pulled a Pistol on Santa” and “My Brother’s A Basehead” are about molestation and drug addiction, respectively.

Ultimately, I like De La’s sunniness more than their darkness, and nothing will beat “Eye Know” from 3 Feet High. But this album is truly mad, and no one appreciates madness more than I.

Other Highlights: “Fanatic Of The B Word,” where apparently the B word is Baseball! “Not Over till the Fat Lady Plays the Demo” and “Shwingalokate” have hilarious names. The record starts to officially devolve into madness during “Who Do U Worship” and “Kicked Out The House.”

Honorable Mentions: The problem with long albums is that some of the songs inevitably get lost in the sauce. “Let, Let Me In,” “Afro Connections at a Hi 5 (In The Eyes of the Hoodlum)” and “Pass The Plugs” are all just fine.

IS RS FULL OF IT? Yes. As of 1/21, they spelled the word “pessimistic” wrong in the blurb. Seriously, go check! Someone was paid for that.

Review #227: Here’s Little Richard, Little Richard

Review #229: The Ultimate Collection, Patsy Cline