De La Soul is a hip-hop trio that formed in 1987 on Long Island, NY. They are known for their unique sampling, playful lyrics and humorous skits between tracks. They contributed to the rise of alternative hip-hop in the 1990s, especially to the beginning of jazz rap. The members are Kelvin Mercer, David Jude Jolicoeur and Vincent Mason, but they also go by many nicknames. De La Soul released their debut album, 3 Feet High and Rising, in 1989, and it is considered one of the best hip-hop albums of all time.
De La Soul offers a serious criticism of the music industry and the state of the world in their 1996 single “Stakes is High”. This song was released during the violent East-West hip-hop feud of the mid 1990s.
The instamatic focal point bringing damage to your boroughs.
Be some brothers from the east with some beats that be thorough.
Got the solar gravitation, so I’m bound to pull it.
I gets down like brothers are found ducking from bullets.
Gun control means using both hands in my land
Where it’s all about the cautious living.
The title is Stakes is High, which is not Standard American English. This title is written in African American Vernacular English (AAVE), which is an American dialect common in many rap songs. AAVE is not incorrect or inferior, but it is generally unacceptable to use it in academic or business situations.
- The stakes are high (expression) – something that you risk losing when you try to make a prediction; when you are involved in something that can succeed or fail, then the stakes are high. Many students are taking the TOEFL, and the stakes are high!
- gun control (noun) – laws that restrict the sales and use of guns, firearms and ammunition. Many people believe that more gun control will prevent violence, but the government should also support mental health professionals.
- cautious (adjective) – being careful, especially in order to avoid danger or mistakes; not taking risks. You should be very cautious when you drive at night.
- work out something (phrasal verb) – to think about something until you understand it. I need to work out my vacation plans. I haven’t even bought my flight tickets yet.
- also, figure out something
- take offence (phrase) – to feel upset or insulted. Do you think the host will take offence if I leave the party early?
- against the law (adjective) – illegal. Downloading bootleg movies is against the law, but many people do it every day.
- piece of the pie (idiom) – a share of the profits. If you become my business partner, you will get a big piece of the pie.
Have you ever taken a risk or done something when the stakes were high? What risks have you taken in your life? Is life a big gamble? In life, is it more important to be cautious or to take risks? Please write your comments below!