It’s no secret that the music of the Native Tongues — consisting of A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, and Queen Latifah — was a huge influence on Pharrell Williams. In fact, he was one in a Tribe-inspired rap trio along with Timbaland and Magoo that emulated much of that group’s early work. So, when he shares his views on which De La Soul albums will be absolutely essential to stream when they become available on DSPs this spring, it’s probably worth paying some credence.
The Virginia superproducer shared his thoughts in a new fan Q&A session via The Guardian, replying to saintpelligrino‘s inquiry, “What album, past or present, does everybody need to hear?”
Pointing out that De La Soul’s catalog is finally coming to streaming this year, Pharrell recommended, “Everybody needs to get 3 Feet High And Rising and De La Soul Is Dead.” Explaining why he thinks the trio’s first two albums are so important, he also namechecks Damon Albarn, creator of the animated band Gorillaz, with whom De La has collaborated on songs like “Feel Good Inc.”
“Even when they were going through all their stuff [a protracted dispute over the rights to their catalog], Damon [Albarn] from Blur put them on the Gorillaz albums, because he gets it,” Pharrell enthused. “He knows those guys are responsible for making so many of us misfits feel like we actually fit. The De La tribe were the forefathers and founders of the way we see things. I was nearly 16 when 3 Feet High and Rising came out. It was a total game-changer. It changed my life, period. Would I like to work with them? I would do anything for them, they know that. If they don’t, they should.”
So there you have it. Check out 3 Feet High — which he’s right about, by the way — and De La Soul Is Dead to learn why they are such an important piece of hip-hop history. But, don’t overlook their latter works, though; Stakes Is High was one of the albums that first introduced the late-90s unofficial second wave of Native Tongues acts like Mos Def, Common, and J Dilla, while the production on the two Art Official Intelligence projects, Mosaic Thump and Bionix sounds as fresh today as it did futuristic in its time.