Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

De La Soul: 3 Feet High and Rising [Tommy Boy, 1989]
An inevitable development in the class history of rap, they're new wave to Public Enemy's punk, and also "pop" rather than pop, as self-consciously cute and intricate as Shoes or Let's Active. Their music is maddeningly disjunct, and a few of the 24-cuts-in-67-minutes (too long for vinyl) are self-indulgent, arch. But their music is also radically unlike any rap you or anybody else has ever heard--inspirations include the Jarmels and a learn-it-yourself French record. And for all their kiddie consciousness, junk-culture arcana, and suburban in-jokes, they're in the new tradition--you can dance to them, which counts for plenty when disjunction is your problem. A-