THE DAISY AGE.
The Daisy Age.
Label: Ace Records.
Release Date: ‘30th’ August 2019.
When is a movement not a movement? When it’s the Daisy Age, which was never really a movement. It’s been described more like an ethos or set of principles that for a short while, pervaded into hip hop, R&B and even pop. The ironic thing, is that thirty years later, nobody knows whether the architects of The Daisy Age, was a throwaway remark or said tongue in cheek. It certainly was influential and is why Ace Records will release a new compaulkayion The Daisy Age on 30th’ August 2019, which documents a story that deserves telling again.
The founder or architects of the Daisy Age movement were the Long Island hip hop trio, De La Soul, who claimed that D.A.I.S.Y. was an acronym of “da inner sound, y’all.” However, the members of De La Soul said a lot of things and often, it was with in jest or said tongue in cheek. De La Soul are remembered for the humour and playfulness which was part of their music, and especially their 1989 critically acclaimed, genre-melting debut album 3 Feet High and Rising which was akin to musical patchwork quilt. It was obvious that this was a hip hop classic and a game changer of an album.
Especially in Britain, where the Acid House scene blossomed in 1988, and DJs took to playing eclectic sets at raves across the country. They took place everywhere from warehouses to tents in farmer’s field’s where loved up ravers dressed in baggy clothing danced to the Chicago House tracks and the Acid House cuts that followed in their wake. They could be heard alongside UK house tracks and songs like Chris Rea’s Josephine and the dreadful Bomb The Bass Beat Dis, which many DJs and dancers quite rightly, refused to take seriously. Eventually, it was passed off as an import and suddenly, it gained approval in some quarters. This proved you can fool some of the people all of the time. Having said that, it was a time when musically, it was a case of anything goes.
As the nineties dawned, some groups decided to reinvent themselves and jump on Acid House bandwagon. This included Primal Scream, who previously, were dyed -in-the-wool rockers who embraced dance music and reinvented themselves when they released Screamadelica in 1991. It was a seminal album where Bobby Gillespie and Co. fused rock and dance music to produce a timeless classic.
Meanwhile, in New York, two of the city’s leading hip hop groups were leading lights in the nascent but rapidly expanding Native Tongues collective. While both groups were important and popular, De La Soul’s music was much more innovative, and that was the case from their debut album 3 Feet High and Rising onwards.
De La Soul were keen to distinguish themselves from many of the hip hop acts that preceded them. They tended to use the same samples over and over again. Listen carefully, and you could hear the usual suspects from sixties and seventies soul and funk. Especially artists like James Brown , Bobby Byrd, Maceo Parker, Lyn Collins, Stevie Wonder, Isaac Hayes and Roy Ayers plus groups like The Isley Brothers and The JBs. A favourite game at the time was sample spotting, which wasn’t difficult as the same ones were used so often. That changed with De La Soul.
For their debut album 3 Feet High and Rising, De La Soul raided sampled the blue-eyed soul of Hall and Oates plus Billy Joel as well as soul man Wilson Pickett and Stax lum luminaries The Mad Lads. That wasn’t all. De La Soul dug deep and sampled The Turtles’ You Showed Me, The Invitations’ Written On The Wall and even an album of French Linguaphone lessons. It was a truly eclectic mix of music that became this captivating collage that concluded their debut single Plug Tunin’, the followup Potholes In My Lawn which was the song that mentions The Daisy Age. There’s also a cover of Three Is The Magic Number by Bob Dorough from Schoolhouse Rock. This brought back memories for many hip hoppers who remembered hearing the song on Sesame Street.
Although hip hop was born in the USA, the music was popular in the UK. Especially Run DMC, whose music captured the imagination of many music fans, including many weened on a diet of rock. Another group that were popular were The Beastie Boys, who divided opinions and many music fans perceived as a pale shadow of De La Soul, Run DMC and Public Enemy who had released It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back in 1988. Its was another genre classic and album that everyone from ordinary music fans to De La Soul were enthralled with.
Later, De La Soul would dig deep into their memory banks to remember the music they heard growing up. This they sampled in future albums including Steely Dan, Brass Construction, The Detroit Spinners and more Hall and Oates and Billy Joel. It was an eclectic mix from one of the founders of the Native Tongues collective.
The third member was A Tribe Called Quest, who in 199People’s Instinctive Travels And The Paths Of Rhythm, which sounded as it it had been influenced by 3 Feet High and Rising. Soon, the Native Tongues’ influence was spreading and could be heard across North America and in the UK. The three prime movers of the Native Tongues collective, De La Soul, The Jungle Brothers and A Tribe Called Quest also feature on The Daisy Age compilation.
Roller Skating Jam Named Saturdays by De La Soul featuring Q-Tip and Vinia Mojica opens The Daisy Age, and is a reminder of a groundbreaking group at the peak of their powers. Later, Mama Gave Birth to the Soul Children by Queen Latifah featuring De La Soul is this collaboration is a welcome addition to the compilation.
So is A Tribe Called Quest’s Bonita Applebum ,which although it was released in 1990, still sounds fresh nearly thirty years later. They’re one of the triumvirate of hip hop groups who were at the forefront of the Native Tongues collective.
The other original member of the Native Tongues collective are The Jungle Brothers whose Doin’ Our Own Dang from 1989. It’s another track which has stood the test of time and influenced other hip hop artists and groups.
Mistadobalina is a track from 1991 by Del Tha Funkeé Homosapien from the Bay Area, who are another group who wee inspired by the leading lights of the Native Tongues collective. However, it was De La Soul’s 3 Feet High and Rising that influenced Canada’s Dream Warriors who contribute My Definition Of A Boombastic Jazz Style from 1990.
Apart from De La Soul, only Brand Nubian feature twice. Their contributions are whose K Sera Sera and All For One. They’re welcome additions as are Digital Underground’s Doowutchyalike, KMD’s Peachfuzz and not forgetting Naughty By Nature’s O.P.P. They epitomise the sound pioneered by the Native Tongues collective. So does Black Sheep’s The Choice Is Yours (Revisited), Da Bush Babees’ We Run Things (It’s Like Dat) and Fu-Schnickens with Shaquille O’Neal (Shaq Fu)’s album closer What’s Up Doc? (Can We Rock?) [K-Cut’s Fat Trac Remix].
These tracks, along with the others on The Daisy Age are a reminder of a golden age for hip hop. Back then, the music was innovative and was fresh as artists and bands moved hip hop in a new directions. In the case of De La Soul, who coined the term The Daisy Age and were one of the three pioneers of the Native Tongues collective their music was groundbreaking, playful and tinged with humour.
Along with The Jungle Brothers whose sophomore album Done By The Forces Of Nature was essentially a concept album about Africa where hip hop, jazz, doo wop and soul melted into one.
Then there was A Tribe Called Quest who also inspired and influenced the artists on The Daisy Age compilation who went on to create a genre-melting hip hop that was groundbreaking and took the music in a new direction. Nearly thirty years later, and the music on The Daisy Age has stood the test of time and for many is a reminder of what was a golden age for hip hop.
The Daisy Age.