“Eye Know” by De La Soul (1989)

“Eye Know” is not your average hip-hop love song. It’s a warm fuzzy, but it’s not corny. I’ve mentioned in previous entries how awkward love raps can sound, especially as you go back in time to the ’80s and early ’90s. “Eye Know” isn’t awkward, even though De La Soul’s slang is so dense it might take you a few listens to realize what they’re singing about. It’s also decidedly not salacious, which I note not because it’s an older rap record, but because it was recorded by three teenagers. “Eye Know” ends with a wedding and the promise of forever commitment (quite possibly on Mars).

“Eye Know” was also how I discovered Steely Dan, thanks to the blatant jack of “Peg”. I’m pretty sure that particular uncleared loop cost De La Soul and Prince Paul a pretty penny, since Donald Fagen and Walter Becker (may he rest in peace) were known to shake down artists who sampled their compositions. I must admit, as I was preparing this entry in my head, I wondered this: considering how many hip-hop fans were turned on to Steely Dan as a result of sampling, and how (and this isn’t really quantifiable, but I believe this) their 21st century comeback and their ongoing pull as a touring act can also be traced back to hip-hop artists introducing their work to a new generation of listeners, shouldn’t Steely Dan owe De La Soul some money at this point? Or at least a “thanks for keeping us fresh” acknowledgement? Although I feel like De La Soul would prefer the money.

It’s an interesting question to ask now that there are some years in the rear view mirror and there’s a large number of acts that had their careers extended or resurrected thanks to remakes and/or samples of their work in the early hip-hop era.

I was not aware that “Eye Know” had a video until about 30 seconds ago. Surprise!

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