Thursday, August 25, 2016

De La Soul carry over tradition in 'And The Anonymous Nobody'

And The Anonymous Nobody by De La Soul
It’s been twelve years since the hip-hop men of De La Soul released their last LP (The Grind Date, 2004) so it makes sense that they would require a Kickstarter campaign to fund their new works. And The Anonymous Nobody (Aug 26/AOI), their eighth and latest studio album as a full posse, serves all the great De La idiosyncrasies with some diversity of music and good guests for an all around solid retro-esque rap offering.
These aging De La Soul artists (Posdnuos, Dave and Maseo) are low-key in energy and volume most of the time, but their rhyme games are still respectably sharp. It’s not bad that the general tone is warm. Platitudes and wise adages are sprinkled on their verses like the occasional gray hairs you might find on the authors’ scalps. The majority of the album is spent just kicking it it seems, as these legends casually toss their rhymes down with ease and skill. On their minds are past loves (“Memory Of… Us”), the trappings of the fast glamorous busy life (“Greyhounds”), the problem with snooty people (“Nosed Up”) and hopes that we the people will go out into the world and do good (“Exodus”).
The production is right up there with the vocals in substance, befitting of the De La Soul brand. Highfalutin horns drape “Royalty Capes,” a variation of electro-funk brings the “Pain,” and “Lord Intended” is drawn out with firm rock guitar lines. A couple more joints (“Drawn” and “Here In After”) also feature those semi-extended swaths of instrumental music with cool controlled jazz featured in the last example and penultimate track.
Above all though, fans need to ask themselves if in this album there is the boundary-pushing and trend-setting of De La’s early 1990s past. There really isn’t, but they’re also probably not trying to be cutting-edge also. In some parts, they’re really not talking about anything out of the ordinary in particular, but they’re also not causing harm with their words so it could be much worse. It’s very comforting to hear the welcome sounds of De La Soul again no question. And The Anonymous Nobody is definitely not as middling or poor as a below average rating would suggest, but it’s also not wildly extraordinary. Overall we have a mediocre hip-hop album for the standards of these days and times, but the effort is very much appreciated.
3 out of 5 stars

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