- Released: July 2, 1996
- Originally Released: 1996
- Label: Rhino / Ada
Spin - 8/96, pp.98-100
Reasonably Good - "...Recording for the first time without Prince Paul....De La Soul have settled for a series of serviceable, mid-tempo grooves. There's a not-unpleasing nimbleness about STAKES, but toying with a groove, not merely establishing it, has always been the appeal of a De La record..."
Entertainment Weekly - 7/12/96, p.58
"...Musically, they've traded in their gorgeously weird jazz-based soundscapes for sparser, straight-ahead beats....Still, De La Soul prove they can snap on new-jack poseurs as effectively as they did on the old ones..." - Rating: B
Uncut - 6/03, p.133
"...It was on 1996's STAKES IS HIGH that they found their true mature voice..."
The Source - 7/96, p.87
4 Mics - Slammin' - "...Unlike trend chameleons whose personalities flow to the ebbs of ringing cash registers, da Soul spits into the winds of the reigning orthodoxy, targeting gangsta poseurs and microwave Mafioso..."
Rap Pages - 7/96, p.298 (out of 10)
- "...With each album...De La Soul invariably shoulder the burden placed on them by fans to once again save Hip-Hop from the throes of commercialism....De La Soul's mission this time is to serve as a counterpoint to the 'players' who have simply dominated Hip-Hop over the last few years with images and slogans centering on violence..."
New York Times (Publisher) - 7/28/96, Sec.2, p.30
"...[STAKES IS HIGH] sounds deceptively relaxed and bouyant as De La Soul pulls off some complex maneuvers simultaneously....De La Soul has found its balance again. Its vamps are calm but determined, dipping into jazz and old soul. And the raps...are more straightforward..."
NME (Magazine) - 6/29/96, p.536 (out of 10)
- "...no, they're NOT going to be hippy-rap clowns any more for anyone....at least they'll get respect from the hip-hop community by making another no-frills, monochrome rap record that is, well, alright..."
- 2.Supa Emcees
- 3.Bizness, The - (featuring Common)
- 4.Wonce Again Long Island
- 7.Dog Eat Dog
- 8.Baby Baby Baby Baby Ooh Baby
- 9.Long Island Degrees
- 10.Betta Listen
- 11.Itzsoweezee (HOT)
- 12.4 More - (featuring Zhane)
- 13.Big Brother Beat - (featuring Mos Def)
- 14.Down Syndrome
- 15.Pony Ride - (featuring Truth Enola)
- 16.Stakes Is High
De La Soul: Pos Plug Wonder Why, Dave "Dr.ama," (rap vocals); Maseo.
Additional personnel: Common, Mos Def, Truth Enola (rap vocals); Zhane, Jazzyfatnastees (vocals).
Producers: De La Soul, Spearhead X, Ogee, Skeff Anslem, Jay Dee.
Engineers: Guido Osorio, Tim Latham.
Recorded at World Recording Facility and Platinum Island, New York, New York.
Audio Mixer: Tim Latham.
Recording information: Platinum Island Recording Studios, New York, NY; World Recording Facility.
Photographer: Eric Johnson .
Unknown Contributor Role: Maseo.
Still straight-up from Strong Island, still pushing the hip-hop envelope, still De La Soul. What these three guys have, if you don't know by now, is a platinum-certified knack for big, phat beats and literate, creative rhymes. The kind of beats that make you nod your head without thinking. And the kind of rhymes that make you hit "Rewind" in awe. Fluid. Smooth. But always an undercurrent of emotion--sometimes romantic frustration, as in "Dog Eat Dog," sometimes thinly veiled satire (it is, isn't it?), as in "Baby Baby Baby Baby Ooh Baby," and sometimes pride in their home turf and their talent, as in "Long Island Degrees."
Sure, as on just about any hip-hop disc these days, there's the requisite "I'm the best" braggadocio. De La Soul has a right to brag, though. This band has stayed fiercely loyal to a pure hip-hop sound, and as a result is still 3 feet high (at least) and still rising.