De La Soul at the Cabooze, 4/27/12

De La Soul
The Cabooze, Minneapolis
Friday, April 27, 2012

View a slideshow from the concert here.

De La Soul have always been on the outside edges of hip-hop. They have tight rhymes, sharp, smart beats and a manner about them that's incredibly magnetic. But they weren't and aren't part of the gangsta rap movement, and have a bit too much fun to be lumped in with the "smart rappers" like Black Sheep. They come off more like hippies than anything else and as it stands,  tow the line somewhere between A Tribe Called Quest and Stevie Wonder.

All of that was still very apparent on Friday as they played a couple of new songs to get the show rolling and re-engage a crowd that had started to fade and thin out a bit after a long wait. They easily won the crowd back with the goofy, surreal "Potholes in My Lawn" from their 1989 debut 3 Feet High and Rising, but by this time a disconnect was starting to brew from the stage and got more grating as the show progressed.

After a very long wait -- over 90 minutes passed after the second opening act finished their set -- the guys finally took the stage at the Cabooze on Friday night. The crowd was restless and many had consumed more than their fair share of liquor. It was ten minutes to 1 a.m. As it turned out, there were legitimate reasons for the long wait, this wasn't diva behavior: Maseo, De La Soul's DJ was not with them. Dave (the former Trugoy the Dove) and Posdnous apologized for the delay and explained Maseo had to fly home to attend to a personal matter and they apparently had some trouble finding a replacement. Local DJ Timbuk filled in and did a fine job throughout the night for them.

At the show's outset Posdnous and Dave split the crowd in half and did a call-response "Where are all the party people at? Over here?" pointing to different parts of the crowd as they asked, the audience cheering back at them. At first, it seemed like an easy way to get the lagging crowd hyped up, but it went on for the entire show and cheapened the set. De La Soul seemed like a group that would be above this sort of schtick.

De La Soul at the Cabooze, 4/27/12
Photo by Ryan Siverson

They turned in a scorching version of "Stakes is High", the title track from their underrated 1996 album and threw in part of the chorus of Wu-Tang's "C.R.E.A.M." during a so-so rendition of "Ego Trip," elevating it a bit and illustrating a slight similarity between those songs that wasn't previously apparent -- though should have been, really. The set continued with "A Roller Skating Jam Named 'Saturdays'", possibly the best -- if not most well-known -- single the group has ever released, and their all-time classic (and first) hit "Me, Myself & I," which was fun but not quite completely formed. The set ended on a high note with "Buddy" and with scant minutes left before bar close, they rushed into a two-song encore that ended with a sublime rendition of "Ring Ring Ring (Ha Ha Hey)" from 1991's dark, bitter De La Soul is Dead.

De La Soul at the Cabooze, 4/27/12
Photo by Ryan Siverson

De La Soul have been at this for 25 years and, for the most part, still seemed to be on top of their game. Maseo not being with them had to account for some of the set's intermittent anemia, but the "Where are the party people?" act was a definite drag throughout and should be jettisoned as soon as possible. De La Soul are better than that, smarter than that. The music is quite a party enough in itself. It was too bad that on Friday they didn't seem to be aware of that fact.

Critic's Bias: I have always been more of a rock guy than a hip-hop guy, but De La Soul made me re-evaulate that notion when I was a teenager and they're the reason I got more deeply into hip-hop around that time and still listen to it today. I'll always be thankful for that.

The Crowd: Pushy and cranky. The long wait for De La's set coupled with the severe lack of any sort of agreed-upon/generally accepted walking paths through the club made for a fairly unpleasant crowd experience.

Overheard In The Crowd: "Y'all better make this shit right!" from a woman who sounded livid about having to wait.

Random Notebook Dump: "Dave" is possibly the most inadvertently awesome MC moniker in history.

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