19)De La Soul – Stakes Is High

Song: Stakes Is High

Album: Stakes Is High

Year: 1996

As legend has it, Q-Tip was playing Posdnuos beats from his little man Jay Dee (22 YEARS OLD AT THE TIME, MIND YOU), the beat for the song that would become the title track to De La’s fourth album came on and Pos just knew that it was something special. But he had to put up his poker face and front like it was just okay because if he was too excited about it then Tip would want the beat for himself. He excused himself from the room, called Trugoy and said they had *THE* beat for the album and the rest was history.

With the Stakes Is High album De La took the ethos behind EPMD’s “Crossover” and other musical smatterings about remaining true to Hip-Hop’s culture and they were bold enough to execute what was almost a concept album. Their fight against the jiggy era of commercialism* was commendable and important as it gave life to the subsequent independent/underground scene heavily rooted in authenticity (see: early Rawkus, J-Live, Gang Starr’s Moment Of Truth LP etc.) These were some of De La’s greatest and most meaningful verses ever committed to wax, as Pos even went so far as to officially consider the Native Tongues troupe alive again. I’d argue that Hip-Hop wasn’t in terribly dire straits at the time but I suppose they were visionaries for what was to come.

*(considered “player hating” by some, a term birthed by Bad Boy Records which was argued as arbiter of the music becoming watered down)

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