CLASSIC CLASHES: Low End Theory Vs. De La Soul Is Dead

1991 was the number, a hell of a summer.  The music was good. Damn good, and Hip-Hop was firing on all cylinders.  Today’s Classic Clashes (cause sometimes I’m out with the crew on Saturday Night so I had to stop living a lie about that Saturday Night Special Stuff) is about two albums from the same side of the tracks.Both The Low End Theory and De La Soul Is Dead were heralded as instant classics upon release.  One heralded the end of the D.A.I.S.Y. age while the other signaled the next stage in musical production.  A sonic alpha and omega if you will.The Low End featured a vastly improved Phife and a minimalist approach to album creation.  It was a tight 14 song piece, devoid of skits or interludes that had become commonplace since the release of 3 Feet High & Rising. The lack of saturated fat upped the nutrition  exponentially. The production was also next level.  Jazz legend Ron Carter was featured on bass for “Verses From the Abstract”  Obscure jazz samples and true crate digging led to a sound that was never heard before in Hip-Hop and a departure from the bohemian production on their debut. In short it was a focused leap in evolution;flawlessly produced and arranged with neither beats nor rhymes gaining a significant advantage over the other and credible intelligent subject matter.The genius of De La Soul Is Dead was evident for an entirely different reason.  Where Low End was lean, Dead was fat.  Enormous. Where 3 Feet was quirky, Dead was more centered and closer to the boom-bap roots as evidenced by the opening salvo “Oodles of O’s.” Prince Paul manned the production duties and you could hear those drums come back to earth throughout the album.Dead was filled with skits and interludes which do lengthen it, but they tell an imaginative story and actually feed  into or off of the actual songs. The production  is crisp and the arrangement is such that you don’t even realize you just sat through 27 tracks.Lyrically, De La is highbrow but not above the head.  Posdnous shines lyrically and the pop culture references are littered throughout;standing as part memory lane, part history lesson.  Plugs One and two complement each other on the mic and there are no flaws in that area.Both of these albums stretched the boundaries of the music and attacked those limits with two different approaches but with similar spirit.  Enough yapping.  Time to vote. Poll Answers

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