“Because Tommy Boy has not had the opportunity to sit down together with De La Soul and finalize our negotiations — something we’ve wanted to do for months — we have decided to postpone the digital release of their catalog scheduled for tomorrow,” the statement reads. “We know fans are eager to hear these amazing recordings and we are hopeful for a quick resolution.”
The group’s first six albums — including the 1989 classic 3 Feet High and Rising — was expected to arrive on all digital platforms on Friday (March 1) at midnight. But De La Soul was incredibly vocal about the situation on their Instagram page and inadvertently sparked a “Tommy Boy Boycott” spearheaded by Questlove.
Nas, JAY-Z, Jarobi and many of their peers quickly joined in the fight. As a result, TIDAL agreed not to participate in the streaming deal.
In a recent interview with HipHopDX, Maseo said the boycott was completely organic.
“Let me tell you what’s crazy,” he explained. “We flirted with the idea of a boycott for a long time — for about a good month-and-a-half. It’s crazy Questlove came out of the blue with that. We honestly wanted to be really clear on it being a boycott. It just sat there on our tongue. We were like, ‘What the fuck do we do!?’
“We legally can’t fight and can’t afford to fight. We ended up refraining from that. Tom [Silverman] can legally do this. It’s pretty much turned into a protest to us and a boycott for the fans. The boycott manifested on its own. It had been up to this point just a protest.”
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DE LA SOUL is the foundation for the young or old, Hip Hop lovers or not. It’s UNIVERSAL RESPECT for these brothers! My friends. Word to the GZA – “Tommy ain’t my motherfucker boy” When you don’t respect the foundation you’re Doomed for Bad Karma! Look out for New Moves Made by De La & i. #delasoul #realunity #Tommyboycott #respecttheartist
The Tommy Boy rep added sampling wasn’t the primary source of their disagreement and “negotiating points are still to be finalized.”
De La’s catalog with the label has been plagued by legal issues over uncleared samples for 30 years. Their music has never have been legally available on streaming services and the catalog has moved from Tommy Boy to Warner Bros. and back again without the sampling issues being resolved.
Despite the label drama, De La Soul is in good spirits and looking forward to putting out two new albums this year, including a follow-up to 2016’s And The Anonymous Nobody and a third installment of the Art Official Intelligence series.
DX has reached out to Tommy Boy and De La Soul for further comment.