De La Smart

un DMC may be headlining Last Day of Classes, but the true pioneers of hip-hop are performing in Page Auditorium tonight.

De La Soul first hit big with their 1989 debut album 3 Feet High and Rising, still considered one of the most influential and important hip-hop discs of all time.

As members of rap's positive-focused Native Tongue movement, they revolutionized the genre with fellow artists Queen Latifah, The Jungle Brothers, Black Sheep and, most notably, A Tribe Called Quest. Critically and commercially acclaimed as "hippie rappers," De La ushered in the self-proclaimed D.A.I.S.Y. (Da Inner Sound Y'all) Age, a more intelligent, inclusive and introspective approach to hip-hop music.

Rejecting the idea themselves as "soft" rappers, De La has spent the '90s redefining their sound and style, still proving to be one of the most innovative groups in hip-hop.

Through their five albums and nearly 15 years together, De La has pushed the creative boundaries of their music while maintaining their integrity and credibility-not an easy feat in the increasingly commercialized rap game.

Although De La Soul basically epitomize "old school," the group also takes hip-hop to the next level. Their most recent release, Art Official Intelligence: Mosaic Thump (2000) serves as the first disc in a forthcoming trilogy of AOI releases. The CD has been criticized as cameo-heavy, featuring everyone from Busta Rhymes to the Beastie Boys to Chaka Khan. Still, De La themselves remain true to their core: intelligent lyrics, eclectic samples and inspired beats.

With the next AOI installments set for release this year, tonight's performance will probably showcase selections from the upcoming CDs, as well as classic songs-from "Me Myself and I" to "Ring Ring Hey Hey." It would be a special treat to see "Biddies in the BK Lounge," too. And of course, the "Hip-Hop Hooray" anthem of the new millennium-last year's "Oooh" featuring Redman-will be unavoidable. It's even featured in some new pro-MP3 ads for iMacs.

De La Soul is an education in hip-hop history, from its foundation to its future. Any way you look at them-as current innovators or old-school legends, tonight's show should not be missed. If you are a fan of any dynamic, intelligent hip-hop-from Tribe to Common to Jurassic 5-De La is a must-see.


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