3. De La Soul, Buhloone Mindstate (1993)
Label: Tommy Boy
De La Soul’s last album with Prince Paul in the producer’s chair is probably the least celebrated of their early LPs but it stands as the most expansive album in their catalog and, arguably, the most complete.
Aesthetically, Buhloone Mindstate tempered some of the grumpiness of De La Soul is Dead (though their continued frustration with the state of hip-hop was addressed on “Ego Trippin’ [Part Two],” the video that instigated a brief and little-known feud with 2Pac) with more of the fun, free-wheeling randomness of 3 Feet High and Rising (see the misleadingly titled “Long Island Wildin,’” a showcase for Japanese rappers Scha Dara Parr).
Prince Paul’s sample-heavy production meanwhile grew to take on organic elements from legendary James Brown players Maceo Parker, Fred Wesley and Pee Wee Ellis. Hip-hop grew in all sorts of new directions after De La dropped 3 Feet High and Rising in '89. Four years later, they were still leading its expansion.