De La Soul, Kenan Bell, LB Wondur | House of Blues | Hip-Hop | Chicago Reader
This is a past event.
When: Wed., Aug. 26, 9 p.m. 2009
Price: $26-$28, 17+
Ultra-orthodox hip-hop heads are apoplectic about De La Soul’s latest album, Are You In? How could one of the founding groups in the Native Tongues posse—for years the poster boys for conscious hip-hop, consistently prioritizing artistry over commercial success—make a record on commission from Nike? Those guys should chill. For one thing, De La Soul and Nike have worked together before—in 2006 they collaborated on limited-edition Dunk inspired by the artwork from De La’s classic debut, 3 Feet High and Rising. And for another, the group’s been taking corporate money practically from the get-go—every album they’ve released till now has been on a major label, and that’s never stopped them from pushing the envelope before. Like the other entries in the Nike+ collection, Are You In? is a single extended track meant to follow the ups and downs of a 45-minute workout. It’s a fairly lame-sounding concept, but most of the artists who’ve participated have transcended it to make surprisingly strong artistic statements. De La (and coproducers Flosstradamus) are no exception: in their extended mix, soulful bump fades into electronic spaciness and jazzy interludes mutate into grimy rock numbers, and no matter where the music goes De La’s three MCs seem perfectly comfortable with it. For this tour, called “20 Years High & Rising,” the group’s traveling with a ten-piece band. —Miles Raymer

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