By Chhavi Nanda
Word came that De La Soul's flight was delayed, but they'd still make it. Anticipation levels rose to a fever pitch in the crowd. Fumes from the blunt smoke hazed the faces of the eager fans. Then finally, they made their entrance on to stage chanting "De La" with the audience responding with a unison scream "Soul!"
Hip-hop legends and creators of one of the greatest albums ever (1989's 3 Feet High and Rising), De La Soul put on a gonzo show at Yoshi's in the Fillmore. As soon as I arrived, I got on to the dance floor and scurried to the front. I was standing next to two men, one of whom told me, "We've been waiting for this shit for 10 years." They came ready to wave their hands in the air, and were well-equipped with all the necessary paraphernalia for a De La Soul gig. The man next to me had a pair of De La Soul Nikes in his bag, never worn, and a silver sharpie, which the band members used to autograph them. He was accompanied by his cousin with an old cassette of Buhloone Mindstate, De La Soul's third full-length, produced by Prince Paul, which was also signed.
De La Soul worked the nostalgia hard, summoning the golden age of hip-hop with its characteristic innovative wordplay and almost hallucinogenic diversity of metaphor.The crowd was reminded how far back (and ahead) we all were from Gucci Mane.
The V.I.P.'s may have revelled in their loft seats, but the heart and soul of the show was on the dance floor. De La Soul set a reminiscent feeling through everyone’s bodies, singing and flowing joints we hadn’t heard in years. Tracks from 2009 mixtape Are you In: Nike + Original Run, produced by Flosstradamus, fit seamlessly into the flow and got the crowd crazy. The effect was timeless -- and sweat-drenched.