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De La Soul

De La Soul is a Grammy Award-winning hip hop group. They are best known for their eclectic sampling and quirky, surreal lyrics, and their contributions to the evolution of the jazz rap subgenre. The members are Kelvin Mercer (Posdnuos, Mercenary, Plug Wonder Why, Plug One), David Jude Jolicoeur (Trugoy the Dove, Dave, Plug Two) and Vincent Mason (P.A. Pasemaster Mase, Maseo, Plug Three). The three formed the group in high school and caught the attention of producer Paul Huston (Prince Paul) with a demo tape of the song "Plug Tunin'". Prince Paul was also sometimes referred to as Plug Four. The "Plug" names are alleged to come from the numbers that each bandmate's microphone was labeled on the soundboard. Posdnuos was always plugged into plug one, Trugoy was plugged into plug two, and so forth.

With its playful wordplay, innovative sampling, and witty skits, the band's debut album, 3 Feet High and Rising, has been hailed as a hip-hop masterpiece. It is also the band's biggest commercial success to date, with their subsequent albums selling progressively less, despite receiving high praise from critics. A measure of 3 Feet High and Rising's cross-over appeal was the fact that it was voted Album of the Year by NME Magazine, a title better known for its taste in guitar-based music. De La Soul has influenced numerous other hip hop artists such as Camp Lo, Black Eyed Peas, and Digable Planets. They were also instrumental in the early stages of rapper/actor Mos Def's career, and are a core part of the Spitkicker collective. They are the longest standing Native Tongues Posse group, after the Jungle Brothers.

History

3 Feet High and Rising

De La Soul's debut album, 3 Feet High and Rising, released in 1989 but available as early as August 1988 in Germany, was a critical smash hit in the hip hop genre. They quickly became prominent members of the Native Tongues Posse along with A Tribe Called Quest, Black Sheep, Queen Latifah, The Jungle Brothers and others.

The single "Me, Myself and I" became a huge hit, further cementing the group's popularity. However, the sixties pop group The Turtles sued De La Soul for using a sample from their 1969 hit "You Showed Me" for the track "Transmitting Live from Mars", despite the fact that The Turtles didn't actually write the original song..

Lyrically, much of 3 Feet High and Rising focused on striving for peace and harmony — a message that was slowly fading from the rap community in the late 1980s. 3 Feet High and Rising also introduced De La Soul's concept of the "D.A.I.S.Y. Age" (an acronym standing for "da inner sound, y'all"). As a result, audiences were quick to peg the members of De La Soul as a species of hippie. This stereotype greatly agitated the group's members, as they always envisioned their career as a constantly changing style; this frustration would influence their next recording sessions. In the press kit for 3 Feet High and Rising, the members explained their stage names: Trugoy when reversed spells yogurt, because he likes yogurt, and Posdnuos spelled backwards is "sound sop".

Also as a bonus treat for those who dig in the crates, on the Plug Tunin' single, the LP featured a young Chi-ALi. Known as Jeff at that time. However, you were only able to listen to the hidden tracks by placing the needle into the correct grove, on the record.

De La Soul is Dead

De La Soul's second album, De La Soul Is Dead (1991) was a much more mature album. It featured a wealth of material that criticized the violent, careless direction that hip hop was heading in at the time, though it still managed to maintain a light, absurd sense of humor.

The cover of the album features a broken daisy flower pot, symbolizing the death of the "D.A.I.S.Y. Age" and the imagery that went along with it. The album spawned several singles, including the dark "Millie Pulled A Pistol on Santa," a tale of a young girl who could no longer take the sexual abuse from her father, and the lead single "Ring Ring Ring (Ha Ha Hey)," a story about the people who used De La's recent fame to try and launch their own careers.

De La collaborated with the Black Sheep on "Fanatic Of The B Word," Q-Tip from A Tribe Called Quest on "A Roller Skating Jam Named "Saturdays"", and Prince Paul makes an appearance on the mic in "Pass the Plugs" with a verse of his own. The album also more prominently featured Vincent Mason as a rapper, providing verses of his own on "Bitties in the BK Lounge," "Afro Connections at a Hi-5," and "Ring Ring Ring (Ha Ha Hey)."

Though it received mixed reviews and did not sell as well as 3 Feet High and Rising it eventually became a cult classic and was recognized as being underrated and underappreciated by a increasingly fuckle public. "Score" magazine listed the album as one of their top 100 Hip Hop albums of all time, stating that "it's true genius is rarely understood". There are several major differences between the CD version of this album and the other formats, as the tracks "Johnny's Dead AKA Vincent Mason," "My Brother's a Basehead," "Kicked Out the House," and "Who Do U Worship?" are only available on the CD. The limited edition double vinyl promotional copies of the album distributed to the media before the official release did not feature these.

In 2003, the song "Oodles of O's" was featured on the soundtrack for Tony Hawk Pro Skater 4.

Buhloone Mindstate

1993's Buhloone Mindstate saw the group evolve a new sound and cemented their position as mainstays of the alternative hip hop movement. There were several moments on the album which proved the band had matured. "I Be Blowin'" was a departure as the track was an instrumental featuring saxophone playing by the legendary Maceo Parker. The introspective "I Am I Be" showed De La at their most mature to date with subject matter about Pos' daughter Ayana Monet as well as his grandmother. "Long Island Wildin'" was a collaboration with Japanese hip-hop artists Kan Takagi (Major Force) and trio Scha Dara Parr (SDP). First single "Breakadawn" used a sample of Michael Jackson's "I Can't Help It" throughout. De La Soul collaborated for the first time with Gang Starr's Guru on "Patti Dooke." Female MC Shortie No Mas, a cousin of Posdnuos, was prominent on many tracks on the album, showcased particularly "In The Woods." The album ended with a fun old school Biz Markie collaboration called "Stone Age." Missing from vocal duties is Mase, whose voice can only be heard on "Area" in a break near the end of the track. Also rarely featured is his scratching which was heard often on previous albums, with only "In the Woods" showcasing his talent in that area. The album was a critical success, but it was the biggest commercial failure for the group at the time of its release. Many publications, such as Rolling Stone, have listed this album as one of the best hip-hop albums of all time.

In 1993, De La Soul performed together with Teenage Fanclub for the soundtrack of Judgment Night, on a track called "Fallin'".

In 1994, 500 copies of a promotional EP called Clear Lake Audiotorium were released on clear vinyl and CD. The 6 track EP contained edited versions of tracks off of Buhloone Mindstate but also featured the tracks "Sh.Fe.MC's" (Shocking Female MC's) which was a collaboration with A Tribe Called Quest, and "Stix & Stonz" which featured old-school hip hop artists Grandmaster Caz, Tito of Fearless Four, Whipper Whip, LA Sunshine and Superstar. The EP was widely bootlegged afterwards.

Stakes Is High

1996's Stakes Is High was the first album not produced by Prince Paul, with overall production credits given solely to the trio, and again, was met with mixed results and poor sales. The title track and first single, produced by Jay Dee, was not a hit, but second single Itsoweezee (HOT), with only Dave on vocals, did fare better due to its creative music video. The album spawned a third single 4 More featuring Zhane which failed to chart. The album did provide a launching pad for future star rapper and actor Mos Def, who appeared on the track "Big Brother Beat." The album also featured collaborations with Common (Sense), Truth Enola, and the Jazzyfatnastees.

Art Official Intelligence

Four years later, De La Soul announced that they would release a triple album series entitled "Art Official Intelligence" (or AOI). All three albums were intended to be released within a year, beginning with the release of Art Official Intelligence: Mosaic Thump. This was followed by AOI: Bionix in late 2001. After this, however, the public saw no release of the third and final album in the AOI series. For the next two years, the only De La Soul releases were singles or remix compilations. Jolicœur (Dave) stated in an interview that it usually takes about four years for the group to record an album, promote it with advertisements, touring and so on. The group was having trouble finishing the last AOI installment for many reasons, one of which being an ongoing struggle with Tommy Boy Records, which had been releasing their albums ever since their debut.

In the summer of 2002 the De La Soul toured with Cake, Modest Mouse, The Flaming Lips, Kinky, and the Hackensaw Boys during the Unlimited Sunshine Tour. The band was briefly featured in the video game PaRappa the Rapper 2 with the song "Say "I Gotta Believe!"" (with Double) and also appeared on the soundtrack to the game.

In 2003, De La Soul and Yummy performed the last single off of AOI, "Much More", on an episode of Chappelle's Show.

The Grind Date

In 2004, De La Soul released a new full album: The Grind Date on Sanctuary/BMG Records because the venture between Tommy Boy and Warner Bros. Records was shut down and the group’s contract was shopped to the other WEA labels. The band thought about having its contract absorbed by Elektra Records, but it decided to leave WEA altogether. Although it was not the third AOI album fans had been expecting, the album was released to some critical acclaim and was well-received by most fans. The album features guests MF Doom, Ghostface Killah, Butta Verses and Flavor Flav, with production from Jake One, Madlib and more. The lead single “Shopping Bags (She Got From You)” did not fare very well and set the tone for disappointing commercial acceptance.

Beyond 2004

In 2005, De La Soul collaborated with the Gorillaz on their hit single "Feel Good Inc.", which won a Grammy for Best Pop Vocal Collaboration after being nominated for 5 total Grammys. De La Soul also appeared on on the LA Symphony single "Universal." Posdnuos also collaborated with the Portuguese MC Boss AC on a track called "Yo (Não Brinques Com Esta Merda)" (which translates to don't play with this shit).

In 2006, De La released a mixtape of new and old songs, entitled The Impossible: Mission TV Series - Pt. 1, on its AOI Records label. De La Soul collaborated with the athletic sneaker giant, Nike, to produce two versions of the Nike Dunk under their skateboarding division, Nike SB. The sneakers were an instant hit, and sold out at most retail stores that carried them.

In 2008, the group joined A Tribe Called Quest, Nas, The Pharcyde and others on the annual Rock The Bells tour.

The band is currently working on their third Art Official Intelligence disc, AOI III.

De La Soul were honorees at the 5th Annual VH1 Hip Hop Honors on October 6th, 2008.

Discography

See also

References

External links

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