De La Soul’s Buhloone Mindstate is hard to comprehend. The album is crammed with in-jokes, far-fetched references, unparalleled flows, and typical De La quirkiness. As cleverly predicted in the intro track, that’s why it did blow up but didn’t go pop. But listening to the album, one thing is easily comprehensible: the influence of jazz.
Whereas preceding albums 3 Feet High & Rising and De La Soul Is Dead solely leaned on samples by beat wizard Prince Paul, Buhloone Mindstate is their first album to credit a couple of jazz musicians.
Trombonist Fred Wesley and saxophonists Maceo Parker & Pee Wee Ellis contribute to “Patti Dooke”, a track about the misappropriation of black music into mainstream culture. The track includes a cameo by Guru, who dropped the collaborative jazz-hop opus Jazzmatazz Vol. 1 half a year before De La unleashed its balloon.
But it’s saxophonist Maceo Parker who steals the show with his soul-penetrating sax on “I Be Blowin’”. He flows smoothly and freely over a rhythm of the David Axelrod produced “You've Made Me So Very Happy” by Lou Rawls. Later on the album, the track returns as “I Am I Be”. This time also featuring Fred Wesley & Pee Wee Ellis. The track features some of the most personal and introspective verses by Posdnuos and Dave to date.
Prince Paul extends that jazz influence by sampling Milt Jackson, Blue Mitchell, Jimmy Ponder, Al Hirt, Dick Hyman, amongst many, many others–needless to say, also from a variety of other genres. Upon its release, the jazz-infused album was praised for its free-spirited creativity in terms of both lyrics and productions (including 4.5/5 mics by The Source, and decades later a 9.1 by Pitchfork).
But in this day and age, there's also a flipside to that spirit: all early De La Soul albums aren’t available on any streaming platforms. For one simple reason: the old contracts only allowed the albums to be released on “vinyl and cassette” due to the many samples. And exactly that relates to the core values of Tracklib: we strive to enable limitless creativity with music and samples, just like Prince Paul and De La Soul have shown in the past. Pick a sample of choice, do your thing, and remember: it might blow up, but this time maybe it will go pop.