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Biz Markie once opened a De La Soul set at the 9:30 Club by spinning the theme from Cheers. There wasn’t a face in the place—black, white, whatever—that wasn’t singing along, and the message was clear: Cuddle up to the stage, ’cause your pals are in town. Unfortunately for De La’s Maseo, Posdnuos, and Dave, an unrelenting stream of gangstas and materialists has beaten down hiphop’s cuddly side for about a decade. And since the Long Islanders’ trippy triptych of 3 Feet High and Rising, De La Soul Is Dead, and (the vastly underrated) Buhloone Mind State, the group has resorted to heckling from the sidelines: Its recent discs are mostly cranky examinations of hiphop’s ethical and social contradictions—not exactly what those fabulous DJs need to keep the kids glued to their radios. Yet De La persists, and with a bit of compromise, the fellas can still flirt with your FM dial: The trio’s most recent flashes of success have stemmed from smart guest-star selection (see “Oooh” with Redman) and indirect appeals to the politically correct leanings of MTV programmers (last year’s celebration of big women, “Baby Phat”). But fret not, all you D.A.I.S.Y. Agers, the De La guys can still do it old-school. Onstage, they remain a three-headed, crowd-pleasing hiphop monster. And the result is an instant refuge for hiphop fans tired of manufactured menace and overamplified microphone fiending. De La Soul plays at 9 p.m. Monday, April 29, at Nation, 1015 Half St. SE. $20. (202) 554-1500. (Joe Warminsky)