Twenty-five years ago, De La Soul sought to establish itself as a legitimate rap group. With the release of its debut album, 3 Feet High and Rising, the New York trio garnered the unintended label of hippy because of the LP’s colorful cover art and D.A.I.S.Y. acronym. De La Soul combated this image with De La Soul is Dead, released May 13, 1991.
From the album cover depicting a broken flower pot to songs with stark subject matter and biting social commentary, the group sought to show the world it meant more than flower power.
Reflecting on De La Soul is Dead two and a half decades later, the trio can say it accomplished its objective in educating people about Da Inna Sound Y’all.
“We actually got people to understand what the DAISY age actually meant,” Maseo says in an exclusive interview with HipHopDX at the SLS Beverly Hills Hotel in Los Angeles, “by breaking the stereotype and the stigmatism that was put on us with the hippy concept when D.A.I.S.Y. just was an acronym for Da Inna Sound. I think we’re past that point now.”
At the height of its popularity, De La Soul was contrasted to the tough street image of acts such as N.W.A, which was portrayed in the biopic Straight Outta Compton. Although the members of De La Soul were not characters in the movie, they toured with Dr. Dre, Eazy-E, Ice Cube, MC Ren and DJ Yella as they caused controversy for their anti-police sentiments and raw depiction of life in the hood.
“We were there for a lot of the stuff that was happening,” Posdnuos says. “As much as we were on different sides I guess from visually what people would feel within Hip Hop, we hung out with a lot of ‘em. We would hang with Cube or Ren or Dre and Eazy, all of ‘em. It was definitely cool to know how they were really respective of what we did and just as much as we loved the energy that they created and what they put together for Hip Hop.”
When asked if there will ever be a De La Soul biopic, David Jude Jolicoeur believes there will be a documentary made of the group. Posdnuos and Maseo are more hesitant about the idea of seeing their story told on the silver screen.
“I think it would be boring,” Pos says.
“I think a movie’ll have to be a couple more years,” he says. “A lot more years. It would have to be somewhere, a career as extensive as let’s say the Grateful Dead or something like that.”
De La Soul Seeks To Ease Fans’ “Pain And Suffering” As They Wait For “And The Anonymous Nobody” Album
With nearly 30 years in the music industry already under its belt, De La Soul seeks to continue its legacy with its forthcoming independent album, And the Anonymous Nobody. The project, which the group funded through a Kickstarter campaign, has been pushed back multiple times. De La Soul is handling everything in the album process, from publicity to coordinating schedules for the features, including Snoop Dogg. To hold fans over while they wait for the new release date of August 26, De La Soul released the For Your Pain and Suffering EP last month to show that they understand the fans’ anticipation.
“The title definitely encompasses what the fans have been saying on our comments list for the Kickstarter,” Jolicoeur, also known as Trugoy, says. “We wanted to address their beefs or how they felt. We’ve been taking some time with this record, but there’s no apology for the time that’s been taken. It’s like we realize that these people fund the album and we appreciate that. But then again, we have a project that we’re releasing for the world as well. And there are more fans outside of the 11,000 people who backed the project. We really respect and appreciate that, but at the same time, we gotta do this record right. And I know there’s a lot of impatient people and not only the impatient people, but we’ve made some promises that we’ve broken and for the pain and suffering, why not give them some music?”
At four tracks, the EP probably does not completely satisfy the public’s desire for new De La Soul music, but Jolicoeur says that he hopes the taste is enough to continue momentum towards the release of And the Anonymous Nobody.
“We can’t give them everything,” he continues. “A lot of people felt like they wanted more. But what happens is that when you give people music, not only those specific people you targeted, it gets out there and the whole world has it, so what’s it worth trying to put together a strategy, a project and sell a record by giving people, trying to be empathetic with them and give them more music, but at the same time, the objective to sell an album kinda gets wasted. So we figured, ‘Ok, let’s give them two, three tracks and hopefully they’ll be happy.'”
De La Soul Honors Phife Dawg’s Legacy
Perhaps something that caused the Hip Hop community more heartache than waiting for a new De La Soul album was the death of Phife Dawg in March. Many artists took to social media to share their memories with the Five Foot Assassin and his impact not only as an artist, but as a person. Phife passed away after suffering with diabetes for many years. De La Soul reflects fondly on the A Tribe Called Quest rapper’s life, but believes the legend has found peace.
“The community lost somebody that they loved and probably created a lot of memories with his artwork,” Jolicoeur says. “I think that’s what people love and people who knew Phife because Phife wasn’t like sitting on the hills looking down on people from his success. He was in the community. He rubbed elbows and talked with people. I think we all lost just a good guy at the end of the day. We all know he wasn’t well. We traveled and experienced his journey. I think a lot of us could connect and say he’s at peace now. He’s not struggling with some issues. So, we obviously, I think we all, outside of the whole music, Phife, Tribe Called Quest thing, we lost a good guy.”
Da Inna Sound Remains As “De La Soul Is Dead” Continues To Be Cherished
As Phife Dawg’s memory lives on, De La Soul knows they have created work that will stand the test of time as well. De La Soul is Dead, which features A Tribe Called Quest’s Q-Tip, has become a Hip Hop staple 25 years later. Posdnuos points out that for some reason the album resonates with the skate community. Even though 3 Feet High and Rising caught everyone’s attention because of it’s innovativeness, De La Soul is Dead is still championed by many.
“Honestly, 3 Feet High and Rising helped a lot of people,” Posdnuos says. “They would tell us, ‘Through that album, it introduced me to other artists within Hip Hop.’ So for us to kind of depart from that, not so much safe, but just different way of relaying things and Colorform brightness, it was hard for certain fans and listeners just to take in consideration. Well, that’s just what we were at that point and with De La Soul is Dead, this is where we are now.”