El Oso (Spanish for The Bear), released in 1998 (see 1998 in music), is the third and final album by the New York City band Soul Coughing. The disc is marked by a deep drum and bass influence. Before starting work on the album, the band toured with Full Cycle DJs Krust and Die (in fact, their band with Roni Size, Reprazent, won the Mercury Prize in 1997 and thus put the kibosh on a notion to have them produce)—and by a scattershot approach to production: Tchad Blake (Soul C's Ruby Vroom, Latin Playboys, Sheryl Crow), Pat Dillett (They Might Be Giants, Doveman, Mary J. Blige), and British drum and bass DJ Optical (Goldie, Grooverider, Ed Rush).
Artist Jim Woodring (Frank) drew the cartoon "monkey-bear" on the disc's cover.
The chorus of the song "$300" is a sample of a Chris Rock joke; singer Mike Doughty heard the joke which is backmasked on Rock's Roll with the New. Curious, Doughty recorded it into his ASR-10 sampler with the intention of simply reversing it and seeing what the joke was, and wrote the song around what he found there. The song was used in the House episode "The Softer Side" in 2009.
The disc contained their biggest hit single, "Circles". Tchad Blake, who produced the tune, hated it, and told them it would be a mistake to release it. Cartoon Network gave it a music video in which a Flintstones cartoon was synched to the song as part of their Groovies interstitial. The music video featured Fred, Barney and other Hanna-Barbera characters walking in front of the same repeating background. The video for the song "Rolling" was also produced, which was synced with a scene from a Betty Boop cartoon. The song was used in the 2004 remake of Walking Tall.
El Oso made #1 on KTUH's charts on the week of January 25, 1999.