Music Review: De La Soul (Tommy Boy Records)

In a smoke-filled era where harsh rap lyrics gnaw at hip-hop's humanity, De La Soul emerges from a four-year hiatus as a breath of fresh air. The "hippie"-dubbed rap trio of Long Island natives has always provided a bit of relief in the rap game, thanks to being positive, playful and pro-black all at once.

And De La Soul has definitely done it again with their much-anticipated fourth album, "Art Official Intelligence: Mosaic Thump," due August 8. The first single, "Oooh," featuring Redman, makes you wanna say, 'Aaah,' as you sit back and reminisce about the days of 1989 when their first big hit,"Me, Myself, and I" topped the charts.

For fans searching for another rendition of "3 Feet High and Rising"-- the group's acclaimed debut album--take note that De La Soul is less quirky. (Understandably: they are fathers, after all, and a whole decade older. Plus, Eminem has that playful thing down.) Instead, the group aimed for a thumping flavor, as the title suggests. So there means a party sound: strong chorus lines, catchy hooks, and club songs. And they stay in sync with millennium freshness through a mosaic of collaborations:Redman, Xhibit, tha Alkaholics, Mike D and D.V. Alias Khrist. But don't worry. The group still manages to bombard nostalgic listeners with their old school rhyming ways in the official De La Soul style. To top it off, the legendary Chaka Kahn leaves a soulful mark with a song entitled, "All Good?" Need I say more?

And that's only the beginning. "Art Official Intelligence" is the first of a three-part series, with two more albums to be released at six to eight-month intervals. So: if you're seeking some relief from the cash, guns and h*#! fumes of modern hip-hop (no disrespect, Jay-Z) you'll be able to breath a little least for the next couple of years.