De La Soul: And the Anonymous Nobody (Kobalt)

 |   |  1 min read

Royal Capes
De La Soul: And the Anonymous Nobody (Kobalt)

Although this opens with considerable throat-clearing by Jill Scott in a speech of empowerment which sounds beamed in from some African-American politico-Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, once thing settle thereafter the genius of the hip-hop innovators De La Soul is evident all over again.

Cinematic in its reach, peppered with short passages (the 90 second CBGBs and similarly lengthed Sexy Bitch) and guest-heavy, And The Anonymous Nobody has reach and depth, wit and even some ladelled-on wisdom.

Among the most unexpected guests is Justin Hawkins (formerly of British heavy metal parodists the Darkness) who provides the rock-out backdrop on the seven minute-plus centrepiece Lord Intended, a downpiece slice of deliberately lumbering hard rock.

Early up Snoop Dogg provides the first memorable cut with his slippery rap on the funky Pain which is grounded in the Seventies, and right at the end Damon Albarn sounds at home with the DLSoul crew on the equally cruise-mood sound but serious lyric when he brings a dreamy, Bowie-like quality to his vocal on Here In After.

Between those two poles is an album of intelligent, studio-savvy hip-hop (erring to trip-hop) with contributions from Estelle and Pete Rock (the slo-groove and strings on Memory of . . . Us), David Byrne (the quirky-jerky Snoopies which has some self-referential and religious lyrics), Usher (the serious narrative of Greyhounds), Little Dragon (the atmospheric Drawn which is a highpoint) and others who largely sublimate their idiosyncracies to become part of the widescren DLSoul sound.

Hip-hop has been in some golden period recently but it's wonderful to hear a group which has been around for almost 30 years can still come up with something fresh, gently provocative and coherent as this.

It is only 70 minutes long but by being broken into 17 tracks it can feel a touch in need of editing -- those shorter pieces don't add much. But that's a small criticisim of an album which deals in musical nuance and texture, and -- when it isn't being serious -- sounds like sophisticated fun.  

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   Music articles index

Destroyer: Poison Season (Merge)

Destroyer: Poison Season (Merge)

While the world may be awash with pretty good albums which are enjoyable in their own right, every now and again something comes along which you recognize as not just a keeper but one which reveals... > Read more

Mark Olson and Gary Louris: Ready for the Flood (Hacktone/Elite)

Mark Olson and Gary Louris: Ready for the Flood (Hacktone/Elite)

Given that albums aren't recorded in the order we hear them it's surprising how many peter out after the halfway mark: I guess that's what you call "playing your aces first". This... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

THE BARGAIN BUY: Various Artists; New Orleans. Blues, soul and jazz gumbo

THE BARGAIN BUY: Various Artists; New Orleans. Blues, soul and jazz gumbo

When New Orleans -- aka The Big Easy, The City That Care Forgot -- became the very big uneasy and the city the administration forgot in the wake of Katrina and the flooding, many people around the... > Read more

THE BARGAIN BUY: Kendrick Lamar; To Pimp a Butterfly

THE BARGAIN BUY: Kendrick Lamar; To Pimp a Butterfly

Although Elsewhere certainly heard this exceptional album last year, because we didn't actually write about it Lamar's masterwork couldn't be considered for inclusion in our Best of Elsewhere... > Read more