De La Soul have earned their right to be righteous. Over the course of four long-players, the legendary hip-hop trio has steadfastly, respectfully retained its integrity in the all-too-spineless world of hip-hop, one where emcees often happily co-opt their philosophies in order to earn more money. De La, though, have no time for such shenanigans, and on their recent Art Official Intelligence: Mosaic Thump
, they spend a large chunk of the record hammering nails into the heads of rough-and-tough emcee wannabes. ³If you've never been shot or stabbed, go, Oooh! Oooh! Oooh!'² they scream on the celebratory indictment ³Oooh.² Such sentiments permeate Mosaic Thump
, and the result is a sort of lecture from a bunch of smart guys who have been there and back, have kids and families and have learned how to show respect, speak the truth and have a hell of a good time doing it.Mosaic Thump
continues De La Soul's winning streak; they can be serious as hell one minute and slap you with a rhyme that wakes your lame ass up, then turn around and revert to the party-people joy that has characterized all of their work. Whereas most troupes have one personality and milk it for their entire (short-lived) career, De La Soul have remained vital because they can flip from one style and mood to another without it seeming forced or contrived. Also on the bill (in addition to Wyclef Jean
) are the Black Eyed Peas, whose fantastic sophomore album, Bridging the Gap
, draws inspiration from De La, the Roots and all other hip-hop with as much brain as brawn.