Music

De La Soul: De La Mix Tape: Remixes, Rarities & Classics

Dan Nishimoto

De La Mix Tape is a curious collection of, well, remixes, rarities, and classic joints in Tommy Boy's recent slew of De La Soul product (see the joint release of Live at Tramps NYC 1996 and last year's Timeless: Singles Collection).


De La Soul

De La Mix Tape: Remixes, Rarities & Classics

Label: Tommy Boy
US Release Date: 2004-06-08
UK Release Date: 2004-06-21
Amazon
iTunes

De La Mix Tape is a curious collection of, well, remixes, rarities, and classic joints in Tommy Boy's recent slew of De La Soul product (see the joint release of Live at Tramps NYC 1996 and last year's Timeless: Singles Collection). It is also unusual for not being a mixtape in strict hip-hop terms, but rather a mainstream mix of songs left in their entirety. Finally, this compilation does not cover groundbreaking territory for diehard fans as the title may suggest, nor is it as suitable an introduction to the uninitiated as the aforementioned greatest hits package of certifiable "classics". That said, De La Mix Tape culls a number of overlooked tracks from singles, EPs, albums, and guest appearances that highlight the trio's consistent potency and engages even the long-time listener. The result is an enjoyable stroll down De La memory lane, especially from the latter end of their tenure with Tommy Boy Records.

As lead MC Posdnous recently pointed out, the group "gave birth to rap remixes", so it is appropriate that a number of the selections represent alternate versions of De La Soul music. Re-workings of "Stakes is High" by Jay Dee and DJ Spinna roughly bookend the compilation, in addition to the dramatic overhauls of hit singles, "Ring Ring Ring (Ha Ha Hey)" and "Me, Myself & I" that can be found here. Each remix features a producer's trademark sound while maintaining the integrity of De La Soul's presence and vision. For example, the two takes of "Stakes is High" feature Dilla's crisp drum breaks and Spinna's head-throbbing vibraphones, respectively, but add only slight vocal flourishes -- Jay Dee's take features new verses by Pos and co-MC Dove, in addition to cameos by Mos Def and Truth Enola, but maintains the original song's sense of urgency, while Spinna keeps the original verses altogether. The re-titled "Piles and Piles of Demo Tapes Bi-Da Miles (Conley's Decision)" is a sorely overlooked instrumental take of "Ring" featuring a Herbie Mann-like flute solo over that classic Whatnauts beat, thus showcasing the group's prime sample selection and oft-overlooked funkiness. The recent Badmarsh and Shri mix of "Me, Myself and I" is the greatest departure as it ditches the Funkadelic backing completely and replaces it with South Asian melodies over a shuffling techno beat oddly reminiscent of the B-more house break, "Sing Sing." A version of "Itsoweezee (Hot)" with a raga twist courtesy of Yankee B rounds out the remixes, but the emphasis of late '90s productions may make a fan wonder why those early rap remixes are hardly represented here. From their first album alone, De La redefined the single by packing each 12" with hilarious b-sides ("Brainwashed Follower", "Ain't Hip to be Labeled a Hippie") and remixes that could have easily taken the place of album cuts ["Buddy (Heartbeat Mix)"]; none of those tracks are present here.

However, the compilation's emphasis on De La's 'post-Golden Age' career is unique in that it highlights numerous "hits that should have been hits." "Big Brother Beat" was not only one of the stronger non-singles from the criminally underappreciated Stakes is High, but was also many fans' introduction to Mos Def; even Dove giggles with excitement over the hotness of the then-young-buck's verse: "When I speak on groups and I'm smooth like Gabba D / Tryin' to hang out with Dove and catch love in Aberdine / I bag dimes like my man born on August 17 / Life be nothin' but a river, son, I'm swimmin' upstream." The live version of "Potholes in My Lawn", also found on Live at Tramps NYC 1996, is from the same summer of the aforementioned album's release, and documents a group both intellectual and in-the-pocket; the three run through this oldie with an updated rhythm in their flow, but keep the song grounded in the old school when the "Seven Minutes of Funk" break drops. The more recent reunion with "Plug Four" Prince Paul, "More Than U Know," from the hip hopera A Prince Among Thieves is another fine De La balance of a morality tale of drug pressure and addiction over funky and danceable beats. De La Soul became established early in their career for drawing upon these varied collisions of ideas and creativity; these tracks prove that they continue to venture along on this path.

On the whole, De La Mix Tape is hardly essential and perhaps represents more of a label's attempt to capitalize on both the group's critically-lauded past output and current creativity (their most recent release, The Grind Date, has received numerous positive reviews). However, for what it is, it collects music from one of the most outstanding hip-hop acts in existence. However, while the compilation provides a great look back, remember to stay tuned to De La. Plug tuned, that is.

So far J. J. Abrams and Rian Johnson resemble children at play, remaking the films they fell in love with. As an audience, however, we desire a fuller experience.

As recently as the lackluster episodes I-III of the Star Wars saga, the embossed gold logo followed by scrolling prologue text was cause for excitement. In the approach to the release of any of the then new prequel installments, the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare, followed by the Lucas Film logo, teased one's impulsive excitement at a glimpse into the next installment's narrative. Then sat in the movie theatre on the anticipated day of release, the sight and sound of the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare signalled the end of fevered anticipation. Whatever happened to those times? For some of us, is it a product of youth in which age now denies us the ability to lose ourselves within such adolescent pleasure? There's no answer to this question -- only the realisation that this sensation is missing and it has been since the summer of 2005. Star Wars is now a movie to tick off your to-watch list, no longer a spark in the dreary reality of the everyday. The magic has disappeared… Star Wars is spiritually dead.

Keep reading... Show less
6

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less
Theatre

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less
10

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less
7

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image