Tour Log: De La Soul 20th Anniversary Concert

Tour Log: De La Soul 20th Anniversary Concert Atlanta, 8/7/09

Venue: The Masquerade The secret desire of all Hip-Hop artists is to remain forever young. In an art form centered on youth and freshness, the death knell is when you’re viewed as aged, obsolete. The chase for the fountain of youth can manifest in many ways: ranging from mature musicians conceding to making bubble gum, juvenile music, to men in their late 20s and 30s sagging their pants to their kneecaps.

 

This is not the dilemma for De La Soul. Rarely, an artist can craft an album that transcends time periods, and forever encapsulates the beauty and power that is music. A clear example is their influential debut 3 Feet High and Rising, which the Long Island trio is celebrating through a nationwide, 20th anniversary tour.

 

De La hit the stage past the 11 o’clock hour after sufficient performances from local eclectic act Psyche Origami and Little Brother’s Big Pooh (suffering from a severe sore throat). Even though the bill professed to focus on 3 Feet High and Rising, the group obliged to cover tracks from their other celebrated LPs with the full backing of the 10 piece band Rhythm Roots All-Stars.

 

Already melodic, up-tempo tracks like “Saturday” and “Potholes In My Lawn” became more lush and filled out courtesy of the backing bands strong bass, guitar, and horn instrumentation. This was no easy task, as De La Soul holds the distinction of using more samples that any group in history. To balance out, Maceo helmed the turntables and made sure the original album scratches and other distinct sounds were still present for long time fans.

 

 

Their mid 90’s social critiques on Stakes Is High still prove to relevant 13 years later in today’s ever-changing but cyclic Hip-Hop scene. The dangers unimaginative trend-hopping and materialism was addressed on “Itsoweezee (Hot)” and the classic single “Stakes Is High.” The latter samples Ahmad Jamal’s ethereal jazz piece “Swahililand,” and with the live instrumentation, hot crowd, and challenging lyrics, the song morphed into a defiant, blazing assault on all that is wrong with Hip-Hop culture.

 

When the rhythms of “Buddy” hit, the crowd exploded in instant recognition. While The Jungle Brothers and Q-Tip weren’t present to handle their guest spots, Phife and Jarobi casually appeared on stage to pick up the slack. At first, the crowd appeared dumbfounded before recognizing the extended Native Tongue royalty in front of them. The atmosphere reached an even more fevered pitch when Maceo dropped the beginning bass line for Tribe’s “Buggin’ Out,” causing a near riot.

 

 

With their set now extending past 1am, De La took time to remind the younger audience members that rocking a true live show has become a lost art in 2009.

 

“We didn’t come here to do four songs then bounce to the afterparty,” explained Posdnous. “We’re from the era where you rock on stage for 3 and 4 hours. I can tell some of ya’ll aren’t used to that. If you’re about 35 and older, you know what time it is.”

 

The DAISY originators finished up as strong as when they came on, hitting off the crowd with a perfect rendition of Run DMC’s “Rock Box,” and their biggest singles in “Ring, Ring, Ring” and “Me, Myself, and I.”

  Say No Go (1989)

 

Next year, De La Soul will enter their 4th decade as Hip-Hop artists. They continue to build their legacy, and be living examples that Hip-Hop doesn’t end past your mid 30s. And even 20 years on from when they surprised the music world with 3 Feet High and Rising, De La Soul remain as one of the best examples of Hip-Hop done in its purest form.

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