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list Feb 28 2024 Written by

Ranking De La Soul’s Albums

Ranking De La Soul's Albums

Ranking De La Soul’s Albums: De La Soul: a name synonymous with Hip Hop excellence. Their influence and staying power are virtually unmatched, rivaled only by a select few like Public Enemy and The Roots. Their consistent ability to deliver top-tier albums makes ranking their discography no easy feat. The first four releases are undeniable classics, and the rest remain consistently strong, devoid of any real missteps. Sadly, the Hip Hop world lost one of its bright lights with the passing of David Jude Jolicoeur (Trugoy the Dove) on February 12th, 2023. His playful energy, unique lyricism, and dedication to his craft will be sorely missed. De La Soul’s legacy, however, will endure as a testament to their groundbreaking work and Trugoy’s unforgettable contributions. So, without further ado, let’s dive into their impressive catalog!

Ranking De La Soul's Albums

9. Plug 1 & Plug 2 Present... First Serve (2012)


While technically not a De La Soul album due to Maseo’s absence, we’ve included First Serve here anyway. With Posdnuos and Dave sharing two-thirds of the creative force, and the album capturing the De La Soul spirit, it feels like an honorary member of their discography.

This concept album follows the fictional Hip Hop group “First Serve” navigating their journey through the late 1990s music industry, from their initial rise to their eventual breakup and reunion. While concept albums can be challenging, First Serve holds its own against the work of Hip Hop’s established masters like Prince Paul, Masta Ace, Del, and Kool Keith. Despite flying under the radar due to minimal promotion, the album showcases De La’s trademark innovation and lyrical prowess. However, even dedicated De La Soul fans might find the skits excessive, and the absence of standout tracks prevents it from reaching higher heights. Nonetheless, First Serve is a solid effort, and fans seeking more of De La Soul’s unique style shouldn’t hesitate to check it out.

8. and the Anonymous Nobody... (2016)

best hip hop albums 2016

Twelve years after The Grind Date, De La Soul returns with and the Anonymous Nobody…, continuing their legacy of pushing boundaries and delivering quality music. This time, they venture into genre-bending compositions and incorporate a surprising array of guest artists. While the sheer number of guests might leave some yearning for more De La Soul, they mostly complement the group’s vibe, creating unexpected and intriguing tracks. Not for everyone, and the Anonymous Nobody… is a slow burn, destined to be recognized as a special album in the future.

7. Art Official Intelligence: Mosaic Thump (2000)


After delivering four consecutive masterpieces (3ft High & Rising, De La Soul Is Dead, Buhloone Mindstate, and Stakes Is High), it was perhaps inevitable that De La Soul would eventually release an album falling short of their absolute best. While Art Official Intelligence: Mosaic Thump might not rank among their most iconic works, it still surpasses much of the Hip Hop released at the turn of the century. Hits like “Oooh” featuring Redman and “All Good” with Chaka Khan are familiar favorites, but for us, the true gem of this album is “Set The Mood.” Its wild beat and Pos’s fierce rhymes, complemented by guest emcee Indeed, make it an unforgettable track.

6. AOI: Bionix (2001)


AOI: Bionix is an underappreciated album within De La Soul’s catalog. While a step up from its predecessor, AOI: Mosaic Thump (the first in a planned trilogy), it does fall short of the perfection found in their iconic first four albums. The inclusion of some distracting skits slightly diminishes the experience, but don’t be fooled – the majority of the tracks are fantastic. Highlights like “Baby Phat” and “Held Down” boast clever lyrics and stellar guest appearances from Slick Rick, B-Real, and Cee-Lo Green. Diverse production choices maintain the group’s signature freshness, making AOI: Bionix a worthy addition to any De La Soul fan’s collection.

5. The Grind Date (2004)


De La Soul’s discography boasts multiple undeniable classics, but their 2004 release, The Grind Date, often gets overlooked despite its merits. This, their seventh album, stands out for its focused and concise approach compared to their other works. Additionally, it features the production talents of Hip Hop heavyweights like Madlib, J Dilla, and 9th Wonder, alongside guest appearances from MF DOOM, Common, and Ghostface Killah. If The Grind Date somehow slipped under your radar, now’s the perfect time to revisit it.

4. Buhloone Mindstate (1993)


De La Soul’s third album, Buhloone Mind State, arguably is the most underappreciated among their first four. Artistically, it’s just as powerful as the others, offering a cohesive and consistent experience that marks another creative summit for both the group and their producer, Prince Paul. De La Soul’s first four albums are universally celebrated, forming a cornerstone of Hip Hop history. Among these, Buhloone Mind State deserves its rightful place.

Strong jazz influences permeate the album, thanks to the contributions of legendary musicians like Maceo Parker, Fred Wesley, and Pee Wee Ellis. Samples from artists like Eddie Harris, Lou Donaldson, Duke Pearson, and Milt Jackson further solidify the album’s soulful identity.

3. Stakes Is High (1996)


Each of De La Soul’s first four albums holds its own classic status, but Stakes Is High marks a turning point — a mature and confident statement without gimmicks or frills. This is pure Hip Hop: “Big Brother Beat” with Mos Def, “The Bizness” with Common, “Supa Emcees”, and the prophetic title track, “Stakes Is High”, are just a few highlights among seventeen outstanding tracks. Even after almost a decade in the game, De La Soul’s freshness and innovation remained undeniable.

2. De La Soul Is Dead (1991)


De La Soul’s 1991 sophomore release, De La Soul Is Dead, was a stark contrast to their upbeat debut. It explored darker themes like disillusionment, commercialism, and violence, reflected in a stripped-down, organic sound with fewer samples.

The album features powerful tracks like “Millie Pulled a Pistol on Santa,” a poignant and controversial song addressing child abuse, and “Oodles of O’s,” criticizing the commercialization of Hip Hop. Catchy tunes like “A Roller Skating Jam Named Saturdays” and “Keepin’ The Faith” mask the album’s deeper message, while humorous skits satirize the early 90s Hip Hop scene.

De La Soul Is Dead is a timeless masterpiece. Its enduring themes and messages solidify its place as a landmark album, essential for Hip Hop enthusiasts and fans of socially conscious music.

1. 3 Feet High & Rising (1989)


3 Feet High and Rising, De La Soul’s trailblazing debut with producer Prince Paul, is a landmark album fueled by innovation and experimentation. It famously introduced the skit to Hi Hop albums, and while these can often be disruptive, they add a unique charm to this effort. Clever wordplay, playful production, and infectious positivity set it apart from the emerging cliches of early Hip Hop. Unlike anything the genre had witnessed, 3 Feet High and Rising redefined the boundaries of Hip Hop in the 1980s, truly deserving its “experimental” label. Alongside Jungle Brothers’ 1988 album Straight Out The Jungle, it paved the way for acts like A Tribe Called Quest, The Pharcyde, Freestyle Fellowship, and Digable Planets, making it a defining influence on Hip Hop history.

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One response to “Ranking De La Soul’s Albums”

  1. Preston Gray says:

    I was wondering how many tracks does De La Soul’s first album 3 Feet High and Rising really have? I did some searching on this topic, but I wanted someone to confirm my findings. From what I have found, the vinyl format has 23 tracks while the CD format has 24 tracks with the 24th track only being issued on CD only. Thank you for your help.

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