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Album: Three Feet High And RisingReleased: 1989Charted:
This song is a put-down of class A drug users, in particular "base" (otherwise known as crack-cocaine). The title is a reference to Nancy Reagan's late-'80s anti-drug campaign "Just Say No."
The vocal hook in the chorus is sampled from Daryl Hall and John Oates' "I Can't Go For That (No Can Do)." Other samples include "Crossword Puzzle" by Sly & the Family Stone, "Best Of My Love
" by The Emotions, "Baby Let Me Take You (In My Arms)" by the Detroit Emeralds and "I'm Chief Kamanawanalea (We're the Royal Macadamia Nuts)" by The Turtles.
The album Three Feet High And Rising was the first daisy age LP to be a hit. It was also the first hip-hop release to attract copyright problems when The Turtles hit De La Soul with a lawsuit over a string sample of "You Showed Me" on "Transmitting Live from Mars." Three Feet High And Rising was voted the top album of 1989 by The Face magazine and referred to as "The Sgt. Pepper of Hip Hop" by Village Voice, whose critics poll also voted this the top album of 1989 by a substantial margin. In addition it was ranked #7 in Spin's "100 Greatest Albums, 1985-2005."
Trugoy the Dove of De La Soul recalled to Rolling Stone: "Crack. We grew up around neighborhoods where there was an epidemic. We knew drug dealers and some of us actually stood on the corner ourselves. We didn't know about songs where people were boasting about being drug dealers at that time, so for us, speaking about social issues and things that were going on in our neighborhood worked. Those three words, 'say no go,' kinda caught our ear and we thought we could make that about not doing drugs."
The video was one of the first directed by Mark Pellington
, who did it freelance while working in the promos department for MTV. Pellington went on to direct the "Jeremy
" video for Pearl Jam and "Beautiful Girl
" video for INXS.
De La Soul has a rather colorful motif, but Pellington did "Say No Go" in black and white, reflecting the gritty subject matter.