De La Soul’s victory lap continued on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon on Thursday night (March 16), where they performed their classic 1996 song “Stakes Is High” with a little help from The Roots.
With Maseo on the turntables, Questlove on drums and Posdnuos and Black Thought sharing mic duties, the rap dignitaries delivered a stirring rendition of the J Dilla-produced anthem, whose social and cultural criticisms still feel pertinent to this day.
Of course, De La were one member short due to the recent passing of Trugoy The Dove, prompting Black Thought to step in as a capable replacement and recite memorable lines like: “Seem like every man and woman shared a life with John Gotti.”
But the forced change to their lineup didn’t dampen the performance. As Posdnuos recited his closing verse, the music came to a stop and the stage lights were dimmed, with Pos’ profound words echoing throughout the 30 Rockefeller Plaza studio — before the show kicked back into life for a final crescendo.
Before departing the stage, De La Soul and The Roots took a few moments to honor Trugoy, whose image appeared on the giant onstage screen behind them and whose voice was played throughout the studio’s speakers.
“It’s a moment in our lives that was really important,” Dave said in the audio clip as Posdnuos and Black Thought bowed their head in silence. “It guided us in a direction that made us who we are today. Fighting for our music, fighting for our legacy.”
“Thank you, Dave!” Pos proclaimed.
Podnuos and Maseo also sat down for an interview with Jimmy Fallon, where they touched on Trugoy’s death and their back catalog’s recent — and long-awaited — arrival on streaming platforms, which Pos called “bittersweet.”
The pair also spoke about the origins of De La Soul, performing in front of DMC, Jam Master Jay and Big Daddy Kane back in the day and the making of their seminal 1989 debut album 3 Feet High and Rising, which Questlove said had a profound impact on him and his Roots brethren.
“For the first time, we just saw ourselves. This is how the group bonded, Tariq and I,” the drummer chimed in. “We saw three friends just having fun with each other, practical jokes and all that stuff, and we’d never seen that in Hip Hop before.”
De La’s Tonight Show appearances comes on the heels of another major performance in New York City. Earlier this month, Pos and Mase commemorated both their aforementioned streaming release and Trugoy’s passing with “The D.A.I.S.Y. Experience” concert at Webster Hall.
The night brought together Hip Hop royalty as the De La Soul duo were joined onstage by the likes of Common, Busta Rhymes, Queen Latifah, Q-Tip, Talib Kweli, Chuck D, Black Thought, Prince Paul, Just Blaze, Large Professor, Pharoahe Monch and many more.
Watch De La Soul’s Tonight Show interview below: