De La Soul
Trailblazing rap trio De La Soul revolutionized hip hop with an adventurous eclecticism that shifted the evolution of the genre. Their debut album 3 Feet High and Rising made rap history in 1989, a smash hit that fused irreverent poetics with light-footed rhythms and kaleidoscopic samples. De La Soul’s playful, positive vibe created a new sonic counterpoint to mainstream hip hop’s boastful machismo and heavy-handed beats.
Infectious tracks like “Me, Myself, and I” and “Say No Go” were utterly different, just like De La Soul itself. With a peace-and-love attitude and middle-class suburban roots, the laid-back Long Islanders (Posdnuos, Dave, and Maseo) were unlike any other rap group out there. Their ingenious sound drew deep praise from critics and attracted legions of new hip hop fans. The D.A.I.S.Y. Age (da inner sound, y’all) had begun, throwing the doors wide open for an alt-rap wave in the 90s that included A Tribe Called Quest, Digable Planets, P.M. Dawn, and Basehead.
One of the most influential groups in hip hop, De La Soul inspired Mos Def and won a Grammy with the Gorillaz for the single “Feel Good Inc.” Their list of collaborators is a Who’s Who list of hip hop innovators, include Dilla, Nas, MF Doom, Ghostface Killah, Madlib, Guru, Tech N9ne, and The Pharcyde.
The group’s 8th album And the Anonymous Nobody was completely crowd-funded on Kickstarter and nominated for Best Rap Album at the 2016 Grammy Awards. Recorded with Los Angeles’ Rhythm Roots All-Stars, the avant-garde LP features a slew of guest artists including Snoop, Usher, 2 Chainz, Little Dragon, and David Byrne.
De La Soul are the ultimate rap outsiders, enduring individualists whose timeless sound goes beyond music and into the realm of storied folklore.