'De La Soul Is Dead,' by De La Soul

De La's 1991 album, produced by the legendary Prince Paul, was in stark contrast to the gangster-iffic direction these astute observers saw hip-hop headed. As usual, shirking more traditional themes of the genre, 'De La Soul Is Dead' put away the tie-die, flower-power aesthetic of '3 Feet High and Rising' for the more contemplative aura of academia, in turn creating a focused, conscious musical masterpiece to be studied as much as enjoyed.