Review: De La Soul, “Impossible: Mission”

De La Soul
Impossible: Mission
AOI /Traffic

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

De La Soul fans are nothing if not obsessive. To the hardcore, the fact that Impossible: Mission is more a mix tape than proper album makes it all the more essential. This 20-track CD isn’t exactly the Rosetta stone to De La’s lyrical hieroglyphics, but it does mingle clever exposition of crusty relics amidst a handful of modern-day bangers. In doing so, it counterpoints their DA.I.S.Y. age frivolity with the more pressing social concerns of their newer work, and proves exactly why De La has long been one of the most innovative and relevant groups in hip-hop.

Unlike their Native Tongue peers, De La never fell off. If anything, their later albums crystallized all the assets people love about them. The three “What the F@ck” moments intro’ed by Posdnuos as unreleased outtakes from around the De La Soul is Dead days reveal just how far they’ve come. So do De La 2.0 tracks like the J-Dilla-produced “Friends” and “What If,” both of which float along on Dilla’s lighter-than-air jazz riffs and minimal beats. Also worth noting is a masterful collabo with up-and-coming MC Butta Verses, a Fort Lauderdale mainstay encountered by DJ Maseo after moving to South Florida a couple years back. That track, “You Got It,” reinvigorates the title’s James Brown shout-out and blows it into Generation Next, proving De La can still unleash the funk — beatwise, lyrically and thematically — like nobody else.

— Jonathan Zwickel

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