De La Soul is a hip-hop trio that was formed in Amytiville, Long Island, New York in 1987. They are famous for their electric sampling, songs with quirky lyrics, and their contributions to jazz rap and alternative hip-hop. Throughout their career, they have made four critically acclaimed albums that changed the world of hip-hop. In this article, we are going to find out more about this iconic hip-hop trio.
Early Days and Career
De La Soul started when the three members Posdnuos, Trugoy the Dove, and Pasemaster Mase was still in high school during the ‘80s. The trio’s demo tape caught the attention of the leader and producer of the New York rap outfit Stetsasonic named Prince Paul. He liked it so much that he played the demo tape to several of his colleagues and helped De La Soul land their recording contract with Tommy Boy Records.
De La Soul’s first album entitled “3 Feet High and Rising” was released in the spring of 1989 and it was produced by Prince Paul. It featured songs such as Ghetto Thang which sampled the Blackbyrd’s Rock Creek Park. Since its release, critics dubbed De La Souls as a neo-hippie group because their album promoted peace and proclaimed the rise of “the D.A.I.S.Y age” or Da Inner Sound Y’all. Although De La Soul was a bit uncomfortable with the hippie label, there was no denying that there was eclecticism and humor gave an alternative to the hardcore rap that dominated hip-hop. That’s why De La Soul was considered as the leaders of New-York based alternative rappers called Native Tongues which included other rappers and artists such as Queen Latifah, A Tribe Called Quest, Monie Love, and The Jungle Brothers.
De La Soul released their second studio album called “De La Soul is Dead” in 1991 and it proved to be a much more mature album. it featured a lot of material which criticized the careless and violent direction that hip-hop was going to during that time but the album still managed to maintain an absurd sense of humor. The album also received mixed reviews and it did not do well in the market compared to the trio’s first album but it eventually became a cult classic. Their fourth album, “Stakes is High” almost received the same fate. Although it received positive reviews, the album didn’t sell that much copy and it quickly disappeared from the charts.
Four years after they released their fourth album, De La Soul released the first part of what they promised to be a three-album with their album “Art Official Intelligence: Mosaic Trump. Although it received mixed reviews, it made a great performance in the market and it even debuted in the top ten of the charts. The second part of the three-album series was released and the trio called it “AOI: Bionix.” Along with this, the trio decided to sign their AOI label to Sanctuary Urban which was run by Mathew Knowles, Beyonce’s father. Later on, the trio released their album “The Grind Date” in 2004. De La Soul released a collection of unreleased songs entitled “Mission: TV Series, Pt. 1.”
After that, De La Soul just went on hiatus with the brief release of the album “De La Soul’s Plug 1 and Plug 2 Presents… First Serve” in 2012. After a year, the trio released their songs on the internet and created a free download of all their early albums. However, it wasn’t available for a long time because of the legal efforts from their previous record label. A crowd-funding campaign was launched in order for the trio to release a new album. Fortunately, it turned out to be a success and they were able to launch their LP entitled “And the Anonymous Nobody” independently in 2016. The album featured De La Soul’s live band and a handful of their friends playing live instruments. It also featured other guest artists such as 2 Chainz, Usher, and Damon Albarn.