On this day in music history: March 3, 1989 – “3 Feet High And Rising”, the debut album by De La Soul is released. Produced by Prince Paul, it is recorded at Calliope Studios in New York from Early 1988 – Early 1989. Hailing from Amityville, Long Island, NY, the rap trio featuring Posdnuos (Kelvin Mercer), Trugoy The Dove (David Jolicoeur) and DJ Pasemaster Mase (Vincent Mason) along with Stetsasonic DJ Prince Paul producing, create what becomes regarded as one of the “masterworks of Hip Hop”. The album eschews the normal variety of James Brown/R&B based samples and typical B-Boy lyrical style and posturing. With its wide range of innovative and quirky sampling combined with often humorous and thought provoking lyrics, changes the face of rap music and broadens its audience. A critical and commercial success upon its release, it spins off five singles including “Me, Myself & I” (#1 R&B). The album is remastered and reissued as a two CD deluxe edition in 2001, with the first disc containing the contents of the original CD release. Disc two is a bonus CD featuring original 12" mixes and non-album B-sides. Originally issued on a single vinyl LP in 1989, it is reissued as a double LP set for greatly improved fidelity and volume. In 2013, Rhino Records reissues the double vinyl set in a limited edition pressed on pink and yellow vinyl, as an exclusive through retailer Urban Outfitters. In 2010, the album is named to the registry of the National Recording Preservation Board by the Library Of Congress. “3 Feet And Rising” spends five weeks at number one on the Billboard R&B album chart, peaking at number twenty four on the Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: November 30, 1991 – “Set Adrift On Memory Bliss” by P.M. Dawn hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week, also peaking at #16 on the R&B singles chart on the same date. Written by Attrell Cordes and Gary Kemp, it is the biggest hit for pop/rap duo from Jersey City, NJ. Consisting of brothers Prince Be (Attrell Cordes) and DJ Minutemix (Jarrett Cordes), the duo make their debut in 1989 with the single “Ode to a Forgetful Mind”. The record flops in the US, but fares much better in the UK when their US label Warlock Records licenses it to Gee Street Records. After Gee Street is purchased by Island Records in 1990, P.M. Dawn begin work on their first album. While working on the album, Prince Be hears Spandau Ballet’s 1983 hit “True”, and comes up with the idea to base a new song around a sample of that songs’ intro. Calling it “Set Adrift On Memory Bliss”, they also add samples of hip hop staples like The Soul Searchers “Ashley’s Roachclip”, and Bob James’ “Take Me To The Mardi Gras” to the track. The lyrics make reference to a number of different songs including Joni Mitchell’s “The Boho Dance”, George Michael’s “Careless Whisper”, The Pointer Sisters’ “Neutron Dance”, A Tribe Called Quest’s “Bonita Applebum”, with the latter’s lyric altered to name check actress Christina Applegate. For its single release, the track is remixed by Youth (birth name Martin Glover) of the British post punk band Killing Joke. Released in the UK first, it peaks at #3 on UK singles chart before it is released in the US in September of 1991, as the second single from PM Dawn’s debut album “Of The Heart, Of The Soul And Of The Cross: The Utopian Experience”. Entering the Hot 100 at #50 on October 19, 1991, it vaults to the top of the chart six weeks later. The music video for the song features a cameo appearance by Spandau Ballet lead vocalist Tony Hadley. “Set Adrift On Memory Bliss” makes history as the first single to hit number one on the US pop chart using the Soundscan and BDS (Broadcast Data Systems) computer systems to tabulate radio airplay (the actual number of spins on air) and sales information (the number of copies sold in record stores). “Set Adrift On Memory Bliss” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: November 9, 1993 – “Midnight Marauders”, the third album by A Tribe Called Quest is released. Produced by A Tribe Called Quest, Large Professor and Skeff Anselm, it is recorded at Battery Studios, Platinum Island/Mastermix Studios, Sorcerer Sound in New York City from November 1992 – September 1993. Following the critical and commercial success of their sophomore album “The Low End Theory”, A Tribe Called Quest return to the studio in late 1992 to begin work on their third album. Like before, they produce much of the album themselves, but work with Large Professor of Main Source, and previous co-producer Skeff Anselm. Picking up both musically and lyrically where they left off, the group will spend almost an entire year working on the album before finally handing it in to their record label. Many of the tracks are linked together by the voice of a woman speaking in a robotic voice (performed by Laurel Dann), describing the meaning and concept of the album’s title and the songs. The album is a major critical and commercial success upon its release, becoming Tribe’s fastest selling release to date, and is regarded as one of the best rap albums of the era. It will spin off three singles including “Award Tour” (#7 Rap, #27 R&B, #47 Pop), “Oh My God” (#15 Rap, #69 R&B), and “Electric Relaxation” (#13 Rap, #38 R&B, #65 Pop). The cover artwork (presented in three different color variations) features a series of headshots (seventy one in all) of numerous influential and iconic hip hop artists and DJ’s (most wearing headphones) including Chuck D., The Beastie Boys, Heavy D., Kid Capri, MC Lyte, Large Professor, Grandmaster Flash, Dr. Dre, and Too Short. Released on vinyl on a limited basis in 1993, it is reissued in 2004, and again in 2014 on split red and green vinyl as an exclusive through Newbury Comics (limited to 1,000 individually numbered copies). “Midnight Marauders” spends one week at number one on the Billboard R&B album chart, peaking at number eight on the Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.