How De La Soul’s Daisy Age became part of Manchester music history

De La Soul are playing Manchester's Albert Hall
De La Soul are playing Manchester's Albert Hall
De La Soul play the Albert Hall, Manchester on Thursday, 2 March 2017 – scroll down to buy tickets and the back catalogue

Simon Donohue

De La Soul will further reinforce an enduring bromance with Manchester when they return to play new album And the Anonymous Nobody at the Albert Hall in March 2017.

Context is all important in understanding why they remain among the affections of people lucky enough to have enjoyed their youth in late 80s Manchester.

Rap with a grittier urban edge had been around for years, with legends like Stu Allan throwing in a hip-hop hour on his Sunday night Piccadilly radio show.

But music was much more tribal in those days – rap felt like an exotic foreign land for an indie kid from Salford. I was intrigued and excited by it while feeling almost disloyal. None of that “wicky, wicky music” – the sound of a 12 inch single being so expertly scratched – would be given time in “alternative” clubs like Devilles. Fans of The Smiths didn’t like dance music.

Eve of Madchester

No one at all knew that they were living through the eve of what would one day become known to the world as Madchester. I was just lucky to be a youth at what felt like a good time to be going out and having a good time.

The music I liked certainly became more eclectic. My strict diet of dark then jangly guitar bands was supplemented by dance. It was dangerous, dark, exciting and energetic in a way that indie wasn’t. Alongside dance, hip hop became something that I truly appreciated. Young MC’s Know How remains an amazing tune. Closer to home, I loved Manchester’s supremely talented MC Buzz B, who never really received the success he deserved.

3 Feet High And Rising

3 Feet High And Rising
3 Feet High And Rising
Slap bang in the middle of these more liberal musical times came 3 Feet High And Rising – a seminal hip hop album which felt authentically as though it had been made for everyone I knew. It was lyrical, rhythmic, fun, familiar, non-threatening, a big fat reason to throw your arms around a friend. It continues to be evocative of the age. Me, Myself And I filled the dance floor. 3 remains the magic number. They were part of the staple play list of the popular Thursday indie dance night at the Hacienda. One reader recalls that in that same magical year – 1989 – they played Manchester’s International 2, bringing them to the city for the first time. (Any memories from that gig greatly appreciated).

Cities In The Park

On the 3rd and 4th of August, 1991, there was an event that made sense of everything.

Cities In The Park – two sunny days in Heaton Park, Manchester – was an eclectic mix of sounds that summed up everything that had been great about Manchester’s music scene in previous years. Many of the acts were Factory bands.

On the bill were Electronic, Happy Mondays, Durutti Column, Electronic, Buzzcocks, The New Fast Automatic Daffodils, Ruthless Rap Assassins, The Wendys… and De La Soul.

As far as I am aware, they were the only international act in what was largely an local lineup that just happened to be enjoying national attention.

How a cool rap trio from Long Island, New York, came to be there seems strange in hindsight? But it made perfect sense at the time – they were part of the Madchester soundtrack. (And arguably not so weird as The Wonderstuff showing up).

Posdnuos from De La Soul
Years later, they returned to perform a five-night residency as part of Damon Albarn’s Gorillaz at Manchester Opera House in 2005.

They’ve been back since, playing a curtain raiser for Manchester International Festival in 2009 – when they celebrated the 20 anniversary of 3 Feet High… with a gig at the Ritz.

They’ve released other albums since then of course, most recently scoring a Billboard No 1 Rap chart position with the crowd-funded Anonymous Nobody in October 2016.

And on March 2, 2017 they’re playing Manchester’s Albert Hall. It promises to be a very special kind of homecoming.

Click here to buy tickets for De La Soul at Manchester’s Albert Hall on March 2, 2017.

Click through the covers to buy the De La Soul back catalogue

3 Feet High And Rising

De La Soul is Dead

And the Anonymous Nobody

The Best of De La Soul

Credits: Main imagePosdnous