3 Feet High and Rising

Template:Album infobox

3 Feet High and Rising is the debut album from American hip hop trio De La Soul.


The music

Released amid the 1989 boom in gangsta rap, which gravitated towards hardcore, violent lyrics, De La Soul's uniquely positive style made them an oddity beginning with the first single, "Me, Myself and I". Their positivity meant many observors labeled them a "hippie" group, based on their declaration of the "D.A.I.S.Y. Age" (da inner sound, y'all). Sampling artists as diverse as Johnny Cash, Hall & Oates, Steely Dan's "Peg" and The Turtles, 3 Feet High and Rising is often viewed as the stylistic beginning of 1990s alternative hip hop (and especially jazz rap). With the exception of "Do As De La Does", there is no profanity on the album, in stark contrast to most hip hop albums from the time period. "Jenifa Taught Me", "Tread Water" and, especially "The D.A.I.S.Y. Age" are three of De La Soul's most popular songs among their fans.

Of particular importance is the production by Prince Paul, who would become one of hip hop's hottest producers on the strength of this album. While sampling was hardly new, 3 Feet High and Rising revolutionized the technique and influenced virtually every producer and artist to come later.

Lyrically, the album was incredibly unusual for its time. Even beside its revolutionary exhortation for peace and harmony, many of the songs are extremely personal and heartfelt recountings of early sexual intercourse ("Jenifa Taught Me"), love ("Eye Know") and insecurity regarding personal appearance and fashion ("Can U Keep a Secret", "A Little Bit of Soap" "Take It Off"). Many of the lyrics are humorous and/or nonsensical ("Sun, ceiling/Ceiling connects to the sun, burning inside everyone, on a side Plug-a-fied sire/One million/Demonstrations have been heard, my hair burns when I'm referred/Kid shouts my roof is on fire/Go dancing/Dancing like a bandit, psychics try to stand it, keep it up until they burn a cell/Ro-mancing/Romancing dialect in shows, Posdnuos creating flow, you say you didn't know/Oh well, it's a D.A.I.S.Y. age."), and are inventive and original, stylistic predecessors of El-P and Aesop Rock; Posdnuos compares the rhymes to dance in "The Magic Number" ("the phrasing Fred Astaires"). Many of the listeners who compared the group to hippies criticized the album for a childlike, simple approach at complex issues, as on "Tread Water", where a series of animals exhort the listener to maintain a positive mental attitude. Supporters point to songs like "Say No Go" as a realistic portrayal of the pitfalls of drug abuse (the title is a reference to Nancy Reagan's "Just Say No" campaign. Posdnuos criticizes Reagan, but applauds the sentiment); the song was deeply personal for Posdnuos, whose own brother was addicted to crack cocaine.

The first track, entitled "Intro", is a skit that takes place at a game show. The contestants (the three members of De La Soul plus producer Prince Paul) are asked four questions by the host (Al Watts), and their attempts at answering are scattered about the album. The song "Ghetto Thang" is one of the few non-positive tracks on the album. It is a sad story about poverty and other social ills, even though De La Soul is from middle-class suburb Amityville, New York (on Long Island). Its denunciation of ghetto violence can be summed up in the words "Ghetto gained a ghetto name from ghetto ways/Now there must be ghetto gangs and ghetto play/If ghetto thing can have its way in ghetto rage/Then there must be some ghetto love and ghetto change". "Description" describes each member of De La Soul, and a few others, in five lines each, the style reminiscent of a limerick.


  • Though the idea was quickly abandoned, the original concept behind the group was that Mase was PA and Posdnuos and Dove were the microphone plugs, transmitting messages from Mars. This is the origin of the nicknames for Posdnuos and Dove, Plug One and Plug Two, respectively.
  • The Turtles won a lawsuit against De La Soul over the unauthorized sampling of "You Showed Me" on "Transmitting Live from Mars".
  • The title 3 Feet High and Rising comes from a Johnny Cash song called "Five Feet High and Rising" ("How high's the water, Mama?/It's three feet high and rising"). Cash is sampled on the album. Some have interpreted the title as a reference to drug abuse; De La Soul has not commented on this interpretation.
  • The members of the group have said that the only thing they would change about 3 Feet High and Rising is the cover, because the light-hearted colors do not mesh well with their somber faces.


On the Billboard Music Charts, 3 Feet High and Rising hit #1 R&B/Hip hop and #24 in the Top 200. NME (One of the greatest albums ever made), Village Voice ( the Sgt. Pepper of hip hop), Spex (also #5 on the top 100 Albums of the Century) and Face magazines named 3 Feet High and Rising the top album of 1989, while Rolling Stone placed it at #5, HUMO at #12, OOR at #8, Record Mirror at #2, Sounds at #4 and Melody Maker at #10. It also made it on Rolling Stones' 200 Essential Rock Records and The Source's 100 Best Rap Albums (both of which are unordered). more awards (http://hem.bredband.net/b135745/A752.htm)

Rolling Stone magazine gave the album three stars and concluded that it was "(o)ne of the most original rap records ever to come down the pike, the inventive, playful 3 Feet High and Rising stands staid rap conventions on their def ear".

Track listing

Side One

  1. "Intro" (Huston/Mason/Mercer/Patterson/Scipio/Trugoy the Dove) - 1:41
  2. "The Magic Number" (Becker/Fagen/Huston/Mason/Mercer/Trugoy the Dove) - 3:16 (Schoolhouse Rock sample from song of the same name, also samples "Five Feet High and Rising" by Johnny Cash, as well as Eddie Murphy and Bill Cosby)
  3. "Change in Speak" (Allen/Hall/Huston/Mason/Mercer/Oates/Scipio/Trugoy the Dove) - 2:33 (James Brown sample)
  4. "Cool Breeze on the Rocks" (Mercer/Trugoy the Dove) - :47
  5. "Can U Keep a Secret?" (Hall/Huston/Mason/Mercer/Q Tip/Small/Trugoy the Dove) - 1:40
  6. "Jenifa Taught Me (Derwin's Revenge)" (Q Tip) - 3:25
  7. "Ghetto Thang" (Clinton/Huston/Mason/Mercer/Trugoy the Dove/Wynn) - 3:35
  8. "Transmitting Live from Mars" (Huston/Mason/Mercer/Trugoy the Dove) - 1:11 (samples an old French-education recording and The Turtles' "You Showed Me")
  9. "Eye Know" (Huston/Mason/Mercer/Trugoy the Dove) - 4:13 (Otis Redding's "Sitting on (The Dock of the Bay)" and Steely Dan's "Peg" samples)
  10. "Take It Off" (Huston/Mason/Mercer/Trugoy the Dove) - 1:52
  11. "A Little Bit of Soap" (Huston/Mason/Mercer/Trugoy the Dove) - :49
  12. "Tread Water" (Huston/Mason/Mercer/Trugoy the Dove) - 3:52
  13. "Potholes in My Lawn" (Huston/Mason/Mercer/Trugoy the Dove) - 3:50

Side Two

  1. "Say No Go" (Huston/Mason/Trugoy the Dove/Trugoy the Dove) - 4:20 (samples Hall & Oates' "I Can't Go For That (No Can Do)")
  2. "Do as De La Does" (Huston/Mason/Mercer/Trugoy the Dove) - 2:06
  3. "Plug Tunin'" (Huston/Mason/Mercer/Trugoy the Dove) - 4:12
  4. "De la Orgee" (Huston/Mason/Mercer/Trugoy the Dove) - 1:13
  5. "Buddy" (with Jungle Brothers, Q-Tip, Queen Latifah, Monie Love) - 4:54
  6. "Description" (Huston/Mason/Mercer/Trugoy the Dove) - 1:31
  7. "Me, Myself and I" (Pasemaster Mase/Posdnuos/Prince Paul/Trugoy the Dove) - 3:40 (samples Funkadelic's "(Not Just) Knee Deep")
  8. "This Is a Recording 4 Living in a Fulltime" (Huston/Mason/Mercer/Trugoy the Dove) - 3:19
  9. "I Can Do Anything (Delacratic)" (Huston/Mason/Mercer/Trugoy the Dove) - :41
  10. "D.A.I.S.Y. Age" (Huston/Mason/Mercer/Trugoy the Dove) - 4:42
  11. "Plug Tunin'" [Original 12" Version] (Huston/Mason/Mercer/Trugoy the Dove) - 3:43


  • Jungle Brothers - Performer
  • De La Soul - Arranger, Assistant Producer
  • Prince Paul - Arranger, Producer, Mixing
  • Q-Tip - Performer
  • Sue Fisher - Engineer
  • Trugoy the Dove - Arranger
  • Bob Coulter - Engineer
  • Al Watts - Mixing
  • Steven Miglio - Layout Design

Charting singles

1989	Me Myself And I	        The Billboard Hot 100	                  No. 34
1989	Me Myself And I	        Hot Rap Singles	                          No. 1
1989	Potholes In My Lawn	Hot Rap Singles	                          No. 22
1989	Say No Go	        Hot Rap Singles	                          No. 11
1989	Me Myself And I	        Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks          No. 1
1989	Say No Go	        Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks          No. 32
1989	Me, Myself	        Hot Dance Music/Club Play	          No. 1
1989	Say No Go	        Hot Dance Music/Club Play	          No. 3
1989	Me, Myself	        Hot Dance Music/Maxi-Singles Sales        No. 1
1989	Say No Go	        Hot Dance Music/Maxi-Singles Sales        No. 13
1990	Buddy	                Hot Rap Singles	                          No. 2
1990	Buddy	                Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks          No. 18
1990	Buddy	                Hot Dance Music/Club Play	          No. 27
1990	Buddy	                Hot Dance Music/Maxi-Singles Sales        No. 11

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