De La Soul – Three Feet High and Rising: #463 of best 1,000 albums ever!

De La Soul - Three Feet High and Rising

So why is De La Soul’s Three Feet High and Rising on this best 1,000 albums ever thing?

As with any genre and any time period, the vast majority of music doesn’t hold up well or sounds dated or simply wasn’t very good in the first place (or all three!).

If you know you know, and if you don’t you’re suspecting: Three Feet High and Rising doesn’t have any of those problems. A late 1980s hip hop classic, it sounds as fresh and ebullient as ever. Not only are Kelvin “Posdnuos” Mercer, David “Trugoy the Dove” Jolicoeur, and Vincent “Maseo” Mason super talented, it’s obvious that they pour a real sense of fun and experimentation and (importantly!) comedy into their music.

And then add on top of that a focus on jazz and a myriad of other samples (something I always crave more of with hip hop) and an unusual album format that fits in a number of short interstitial songs and skits among its 23 tracks, and any experience with Three Feet and Rising becomes an adventure.

All of these elements come together (magically?) with “The Magic Number,” which never fails to put me in a good mood. One of my favorite Spotify playlists that I created is called “jazz hip hop masterwork,” and this track is a proud member.

And then the beautiful thing is that the mode of Three Feet High and Rising constantly shifts, never giving the opportunity to get stale. “Jenifa Taught Me (Darwin’s Revenge)” ramps up the funk, and is a fast-paced romp. And then when you start getting wrapped up in the narrative about Jenifa (oh! Jenny), look out for a little “Chopsticks” break in the middle and… well just listen for yourself.

Spotify disagrees with me in terms of what’s the most “popular” song on the album – it’s “Eye Know” in terms of “plays.” In my memory, “Me Myself and I” was the best known song on the album. But of the two, I far prefer “Eye Know,” a lovely jazz-infused hip hop jam that feels perfect for road trips or the backyard on a sunny day.

Personal stuff that has something to do with De La Soul’s Three Feet High and Rising

I long thought of De La Soul and A Tribe Called Quest as the two foundational New York-based jazzy hip hop outfits – that’s a reductive thought to be sure, but that was kind of my mental framework back in the day.

Of the two, I was much more taken with and enamored of Tribe. It took me years to fully appreciate De La Soul, and one of the many joys of doing this best 1,000 albums ever project is that it allows me to sort through and showcase so many albums by so many artists.

Some stats & info about De La Soul – Three Feet High and Rising

  • What kind of musical stylings does this album represent? Rap, Hip Hop, East Coast Rap, Alternative Rap, Jazzy Hip Hop, Hip Hop Golden Age
  • Rolling Stone’s greatest 500 albums ranking – #103
  • All Music’s rating – 5 out of 5 stars
  • When was Three Feet High and Rising released? 1989
  • My ranking, the one you’re reading right now – #463 out of 1,000

De La Soul’s Three Feet High and Rising on Spotify

A lyrical snippet from De La Soul’s Three Feet High and Rising that’s evocative of the album in some way, maybe

Everybody wants to be a DJ, everybody wants to be an MC, but being speakers are the best.

What does the “best 1,000 albums ever” mean and why are you doing this?

Yeah, I know it’s audacious, a little crazy (okay, maybe a lot cray cray), bordering on criminal nerdery.

But here’s what it’s NOT: a definitive list of the Greatest Albums of All-Time. This is 100% my own personal super biased, incredibly subjective review of what my top 1,000 albums are, ranked in painstaking order over the course of doing research for nearly a year, Rob from High Fidelity style. Find out more about why I embarked on a best 1,000 albums ever project.