The members of De La Soul were once the poster children for creative hijinks, heroes for rap listeners disenfranchised by the genre's new-look, shoot-'em-up-bang-bang focus that took hold in the late '80s. Going on the record as preferring being complicated to being hard, the trio was not afraid to sing about potholes in the lawn, roller-skating on Saturday, and hangin' out at Burger King with bitties (girls). But after years of breaking ground in the rap game while achieving moderate chart success, De La Soul has decided to trade in its artistic license for a radio-airplay pass. Smart move or a sucka sellout? Judging by the mixed results of Art Official Intelligence: Mosaic Thump
, these Amityville, New York, natives have abandoned their whimsical nonconformist roots to cash in for the easy buck with a homogenized sound.
While Mosaic Thump cannot be classified as a bad record, it doesn't approach the inventive standard De La Soul set with its past efforts. There are far too many guest appearances, a situation that forces the boys to sit back and watch everybody else work (often harder than they do). Redman's exuberant flow jump-starts "Oooh," and Chaka Khan spikes the otherwise lazy track "All Good?" However, when Pos, Dave, and Maceo aren't the main attraction, there's really no reason to listen or care.