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LITERATURE

 » Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]

MUSIC

 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]

MUSIC

 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
»Deerhunter
Halcyon Digest
4AD
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
»Robyn
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Konichiwa
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Lisbon
Fat Possum
De La Soul
The Grind Date
Sanctuary Group

Rating: 8.5/10 ?


October 1, 2004
"One matchless time."

I recently came across the phrase reading a piece about William Faulkner; it was how Faulkner himself described his most creatively fertile period, from 1928-1942. The essay (by Christopher Benfey, in The New Republic) said that during that period, Faulkner "wrote a stunning succession of masterpieces." As I was reading the article, I was also listening to The Grind Date, the new album by De La Soul, and the phrase stuck in my mind.

Looking at their impressive body of work, of which this is another stellar entry, I would argue that if De La Soul stopped making music (or making good music) we could look back at 1989-2004 as "one matchless time" for them as well. Starting with the much-adored Three Feet High and Rising, continuing with De La Soul Is Dead and Buhloone Mind State, and on through this latest release, I don't think it's too hyperbolic to call their career a "stunning succession of masterpieces" either.

To be honest, while De La Soul has always been one of my favorite groups, if The Grind Date wasn't such a dazzling album, I wouldn't be making this contention. I would still always love the early records, which have aged surprisingly well, but would also understand that it is unlikely and unusual for any artist to keep putting out vital and invigorating work fifteen years into their career.

But The Grind Date is almost shockingly excellent. This is De La Soul at their most focused - no skits, no filler, no weird interludes. Just a dozen solidly produced tracks (by Supa Dave West, J-Dilla, 9th Wonder, and Madlib,) with the trademark De La intelligence and wit. The guest spots all work, instead of feeling gratuitous, most notably the tracks with Ghostface, Common and MF Doom.

So in the face of this album, instead of making excuses for a fall from grace, I'm instead embarking on an exercise to compare their long period of success to that of one of America's most respected authors (side note: this is less of a stretch than it seems. Two things Faulkner has in common with hip-hop: a claim towards authenticity to the voice of the place from whence it came - Faulkner, the South, and hip-hop the inner city - and frequent use of the word "nigger," such that it makes northern liberal white people uncomfortable. For you college students out there - I think I smell a paper here).

That I'd even make the connection is a testament to how successful this album is. If they keep putting out records like The Grind Date, then I certainly hope that this matchless time for De La Soul continues on for many more years.

Reviewed by Dan Filowitz
Dan Filowitz is Toronto-born, New-Jersey-raised, Indiana-University-educated, and Chicago-residing. In addition to his Lost At Sea contributions, Dan is a senior staff writer for political humor site TalkStation.com and the president of ChicagoImprovAnarchy (The CIA) a Chicago-based improv theatre company. We are not mentioning the 9-5 corporate job. Apparently, Dan does not sleep much. Dan Filowitz is the perfect dinner party guest - fun, witty, intelligent, with wide-ranging interests, ecclectic tastes and a winning smile. Just make sure you have coffee available.

See other reviews by Dan Filowitz

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