3/6/20

Thoughts on a couple semi-obscure De La Soul songs from 1993 and their legacy...


Now here's something that's both an interesting find and a shining example of how YouTube can simultaneously be one of the best and worst platforms on the internet. Above is a 9-minute clip from Tony Touch's Hip-Hop 35 mixtape, featuring a here-untitled track by De La Soul, followed by Tha Alkoholiks' "Bullshit," with plenty of Tony's cuts included. One of the YouTube commenters identifies the song as the ostensibly unreleased "Come On, Yeah," based apparently on the fact that the words for that song on several lyrics sites match the words here. The commenter also takes issue with Tony's scratching, saying it "ruins the song." Which, I mean, come on... Further, if we check the Discogs page for Hip-Hop 35 (which, to be fair, might not have been around eight years ago when this was posted on YouTube), we find that the title of the song is "Ego Trippin' (Part 3) (Egoristic Mix)."



(So, you might ask, why even post the YouTube stream if I've found the source? Simply because this is how it came to my attention in the first place and I like Tony Touch's scratching.)

Far from unreleased, "Ego Trippin' (Part 3)" appears on the Ego Trippin' (Part Two) single, which was released by a well known record label in 1993 as the second single off De La Soul's third LP, Buhloone Mind State. (Fun fact: Discogs catalogs 21 editions of this single!) However, unlike the A side's LA Jay Remix, "Ego Trippin' (Part 3)" is not really a remix at all. "Ego Trippin' (Part 3)" is a whole other song, with completely different lyrics from Pos and Dave and music by Xavier Hardgrove aka Spearhead X, who's credited with co-remixing the track along with The Beat Messiahs. Curiously, this is the Messiahs' only credit on Discogs. Hardgrove, however, you might also recognize as the producer of "Dinninit" off De La Soul's next album, Stakes Is High. There's also another connection to Stakes Is High here, as Posdnuos spits a line that would later appear on that album's intro ... I won't give it away, though, as his whole verse is utterly fantastic.

Speaking of incredible and incredibly overlooked Posdnuos lines from this single that would pop up elsewhere, later on the B side we get to "Lovely How I Let My Mind Float," which features Biz Markie and also does not appear on any other De La Soul albums (though it was on some versions of the Breakadawn single). Here, Posdnuos drops another ingenious couplet that might sound somewhat familiar: "Now, I'm a rap fan who never saw Bam rock the parks in the Bronx / But I still snap skulls in the dark." Can you remember where else you've heard that?

Here's a hint: it's not on a De La Soul song — in fact, it's not from a Pos verse at all...



...Give up?

Ras Kass delivers those lines verabatim as the hook of "Sonset," his response to the East Coast/West Coast beef, which appeared on his debut album, Soul On Ice, from 1996. For those keeping track, that's three years after this single was released, so there can be no doubt as to who came up with the bars. However, before we accuse Ras Kass of biting, we should consider the context. Again, "Sonset" is Ras Kass's response to the East vs. West bullshit that had engulfed hip-hop in 1996. Like many other rappers, Ras Kass took a critical view of the situation, basically at once representing the West while showing love for the East. Quoting De La Soul on the hook — and not just any De La Soul song but a semi-obscure, three-year-old b-side to "Ego Trippin' Part 2," itself a critical forerunner to the East/West beef, homage to the Ultramagnetic MCs' classic, and really a gushing love letter to the hip-hop medium — could have been Ras Kass's way of showing just how much of a "rap fan" he truly was at heart. As if to say, "If you get this reference and what it stands for, you really get where I'm coming from."

It took me 24 years to get it, but I see you, Ras Kass.

Returning focus to De La Soul, I find it somewhat odd that neither of these songs were included by the group on their Impossible Mssion TV Series Pt. 1 compilation. Maybe they were saving them for Part 2? Maybe they were deemed insufficiently obscure? Or maybe the masters were lost in the label's vaults? At any rate, "Ego Trippin' (Part 3)" did find its way onto De La Soul Rarities & Remixes, which is apparently a GZ Vinyl bootleg, as well as onto a fan-made mix by one El Rey, wishfully titled Impossible Mission pt. 2: The Search for AOI3. In the spirit of rap-nerdom, I'll leave you with that. (Also, props to Montreal's WEFUNK radio show archive, from which both of the above mp3s were ripped, and to Tony Toca of course.)

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