Album: Stakes Is High

De La Soul and the Native Tongues were getting fed up with rap’s love affair with crime, sex, and excess, so they set out on a mission to bring more attention to the “conscience” side of things. But the production was really the star of the show in this instance; J Dilla’s beats were made under the influence of a higher power, something not of this realm. The Ahmad Jamal “Swahililand” piano sample controls your spirit as soon as the track begins while the deep bass takes over your soul. Stakes Is High, the crew’s fourth album, marked the first time they produced a record without Prince Paul’s assistance. The title track introduced their mission statement and new musical direction, and while Pos had more problems with the East Coast/West Coast beef, Dave’s critiques of the current state of the game were the harshest as he rapped about everybody all of sudden living the life of John Gotti. The stakes are always high when dealing with the decline of a culture. —Angel Diaz