Boogiemporium: De La Soul’s “Buhloone Mindstate”

Like a fine wine, I say. This edition of the Boogiemporium brings us to the second De La Soul record to grace the virtual pages of Raising Elle. Brought on by my little brotha Blake’s plan on denying his rock roots and listening to only hip hop for the entire year 2011. An admirable feat indeed. In support of his ambitions, I created the list of records that he would be pouring through, one a week, for the entire year. This last week, Blake took in De La Soul’s Buhloone Mindstate. So swept up by his words of appreciation for the record, I took it in myself with my beautiful Ellison one evening while she ate some peas porridge. As Blake put it, “This album is that perfect girl that you have been searching for your whole life and have known what she was like in a vague sort of a way, but then you finally find her and, on the surface, she has met all of the vague standards you had, but as you get to know her, you realize that she was exactly what you were looking for the whole time.” This is that album.

I have a different personal attachment to this record. It was the start of my junior year of high school. I was slinging burgers at Dairy Queen. I tried quitting that job once. I walked out. Stole a couple of ice cream sandwiches. Yeah, that’s my public admission. Actually, I stole a burger too. I hated that job as much as anyone could possibly loathe something or someone. I remember walking out there and going home. I walked in and my father was standing there. He asked me, “What’re you doing home so early?”

“I quit my job.”

“Shower up and go find another one,” he said. After two weeks from that moment of looking for any other job but going back to Dairy Queen and bathing in a freaking fry-o-lator eight hours at a time again. I couldn’t another freaking job in the entire city of Lubbock, Texas. I went back in to Dairy Queen and they took me back on the spot. I even punched my first shift back on the time card that I left in my slot in the breakroom. I was such a sucka. I remember listening to “I Am I Be” one time during a break in the parking lot in my Dodge Aries stationwagon. I had Buhloone on cassette and I remember stretching that tape out with all my STOP, REWIND, PLAY, STOP, REWIND, PLAY, STOP, REWIND PLAY. I tore through that cassette. Buhloone was my sanctuary.

That sounds crazy corny, but it was. My uncle had Abbey Road and I had Buhloone Mindstate. It’s one of those legacy albums for me. One of those albums you proudly pass along to your grandkids.

It’s a luscious and beautiful hip hop recording which plays almost flawlessly and is a hard schooling in soul and funk featuring not only a fabric-like sampling of Lou Rawls, Smokey Robinson, Parliament, the Bar-Kays and others, but also features contributions from legendary JB horn men Fred Wesley, Pee Wee Ellis and Maceo Parker.

That’s all well and good, but we gotta kid in the house. We have to scrutinize the recordings we play around Ellison. Sure, she’s not at the age where she’ll ask “what’s a doobie?” but her exposure is occurring. And not only is she picking up rhythm, melody and tempo. She’s also picking up on language. Buhloone is largely absent of the obscenities and imagery that dominated many of the era’s recordings, but there are explicit lyrics that you have to be careful of. It’s not like having Eazy E in your home, but it’s kinda like your uncle had too much to drink and is getting a little loose-lipped on the back patio. But the music wins on Buhloone. It’s a masterful achievement and tragically overlooked in the pantheon of accomplished hip hop recordings.

Ellison certainly thought so. She was digging through the liner notes to confirm the sample for “Breakadawn” was indeed Michael Jackson. Correctamundo, Ellison.

I’d only recommend Buhloone for kids too young to understand or old enough to drive. Anywhere in the middle might find you in hot water with the Misses. You can’t deny the supreme beauty of this album. It’s every funk record, every soul record, every hip hop record you ever should’ve owned wrapped up into one mind-blowing album. Not available at iTunes.

Further proof that iTunes is really kinda like Wal-Mart, but without Nascar fans and the long walk to the back of the store. Four easy Dirties for Buhloone Mindstate. Gasface for iTunes.






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