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De La Soul - Topic

AOI: Bionix

Ever since their 1989 debut with 3 Feet High and Rising, De La Soul have puzzled fans by continually resisting the laid-back grooves and intelligent message tracks of hip-hop's best first album ever. From their sophomore rebuke, De La Soul Is Dead, to the harder-than-thou Mosaic Thump, the trio has often sacrificed happiness for hardcore, even when it's clear they do positivity better than any other rap group. Bionix, the second volume in De La Soul's comeback trilogy, Art Official Intelligence, presents the trio in astronaut gear on the cover, while inside a female-vocal intro proclaims the new De La Soul: "Better, stronger, faster." Listeners a bit doubtful after the rapid disappearance of first installment Mosaic Thump can rest easy; the trio sounds positively refreshed here, finally content to concentrate on its specialties: wrapping groovy, sparkling productions around smart, sympathetic themes with rapping that doesn't scrimp just because they're not gangsta. "Baby Phat" is first, a wickedly wonderful tribute to the beautiful black woman in all of her various shapes and figures. Producer Dave West spins a beautiful sample (from Wings' "Wonderful Christmas Time") for the highlight, a mid-tempo hand-waver named "Simply." Though this is by no means a hardcore album, the trio also spits a few bars, criticizing the easy answers of organized religion on "Held Down" (as well as on the three "Rev. Do Good" interludes scattered during the rest of the LP). De La Soul handed virtually all of the production duties over to the talented West, and it pays off doubly, not only giving Bionix a great sense of album flow, but freeing up the trio to concentrate on its excellent rapping (probably the best since their debut). It hardly seemed possible that De La Soul were capable of such incredible work after being lapped by most of the hip-hop world, but Bionix ranks right up there with 3 Feet High and Rising. ~ John Bush, Rovi
Ever since their 1989 debut with 3 Feet High and Rising, De La Soul have puzzled fans by continually resisting the laid-back grooves and intelligent message tracks of hip-hop's best first album ever. From their sophomore rebuke, De La Soul Is ...
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