Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

De La Soul: Timeless: The Singles Collection [Tommy Boy/Rhino, 2003]
Right, their albums are worth owning, so if you've collected them all, rip the track sequence off Amazon and burn yourself a present. But the explanations and booklet pix will soften up the rap haters on your list, who'll thank you for proving once and for all that skewed rhythms can be humane even when singers don't validate them and "live" musicians don't play them. These focus cuts add tunelet and dancebeat to a quirky, homemade funk lite that never partook of the lounge or the suave sex the lounge implies, and manifest the rhythmic uses of spoken words for guys no one would mistake for orators, romeos, or thugs. Prince Paul taught them that any piece of music was a beat in potentia. Dry, droll, and tender they were on their own--intelligent too, as befits learners for life. Inspirational Sample: "Oh the big dic-dictionary/Is very necessary." A+