“Breakadawn” by De La Soul (1993)

Even though 1991’s De La Soul Is Dead was supposed to be a break away from Pos, Trugoy and Maseo’s hippie image, it was still chock full of jokes. Hell, the album was wrapped around a skit that prominently featured the term “cock snot”. Other than the stunningly tragic “Millie Pulled A Pistol On Santa”, De La’s sophomore effort wasn’t that much different (topically) from the Long Island trio’s breakthrough, 1989’s 3 Feet High & Rising.

1993’s “Breakadawn”, the first single from De La’s third album, Buhloone Mind State, officially and potently signaled a new, definitively more serious era.

The jazzy banger, which sampled slow jam favorites by Smokey Robinson (“Quiet Storm”) and Michael Jackson (“I Can’t Help It”-sampled prominently for the second time in the space of a year, following Portrait’s “Here We Go Again!”). Pos and Trugoy sounded more sober than the had on previous records, more dense, less nerdy. While Trugoy’s verses are as abstract as abstract gets, Pos gets the most pointed lines, starting the song off with a little biography (“I was born in the Boogie Down cat scan/where my building fell down on the rats, and…”) and even dropping a dig on his former Native Tongues brethren (“ask me ‘bout the Native Tongues, I tell you/Jungle Brothers on the run.” It was as far from De La’s whimsical, carefree image as a song could get, but it also didn’t sound forced or like the group was chasing a trend. Matter of fact, “Breakadawn” was pretty unique for it’s time…and it still is.

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