Artist Spotlight: De La Soul

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When considering Hip hop and trying to rationalize the ultimate best of all times, generally the 80’s group De La Soul should trigger some thought of being one of the “GREATEST” of all times. De La Soul is a Hip hop trio formed in 1987 on Long Island, New York. The group is best known for their eclectic sampling, quirky lyrics, and their contributions to the evolution of the jazz, rap and alternative Hip hop subgenres. The members of the group are Posdnuos, Dave, and Maseo. The trio formed the group in high school and caught the attention of producer Prince Paul with a demo tape of the song ‘Plung Tunin’. With its playful wordplay, and innovative sampling, and witty skits, the band’s debut album “3 Feet High and Rising”, which was released in 1989 has been named as a masterpiece of Hip hop.

De La Soul’s second album which was released in 1991 and entitled, “De La Soul Is Dead” 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 album spawned several singles, including ‘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’ which was a story about overzealous fans who pursue the group with demo tapes in their efforts to obtain an endorsement from the group. Though it received mixed reviews and did not sell as well as “3 Feet High and Rising” it eventually became a cult classic.

The group’s third studio release in 1993 entitled “Buhloone Mindstate” saw the group evolve a new sound as they continued to grow stylistically and musically. In 1994, 500 copies of a promotional EP was 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 and Tito of Fe Stakes. “Buhloone Mindstate” was the trio’s first album not produced by Prince Paul, with overall production credits being given solely to the Whipper Whip, LA Sunshine and Superstar.

In 1997, De La Soul announced that they would release a triple album series entitled “Art Official Intelligence”. In 2004, the group 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. In 2005, De La Soul collaborated with the Gorillaz on the hit single ‘Feel Good Inc’. The trio recently released ‘Get Away’ featuring The Spirit of Wu which is a musical attack on the formulaic creation of contemporary Hip hop. The track is the first of a series De La Soul has released as part of their “release one track per month project” which began in 2013. On May 20, 2016, they shared the 17-track track list for their album “And the Anonymous Nobody”.  The album’s first single, ‘Pain’, featuring Snoop Dog, was released on June 1, 2016.

MaRhonda Ratcliffe is a Junior Broadcast/Mass Communications major from Laurel, Mississippi. She will be a contributing writer for The Campus Chronicle for the 2016-2017 school year.

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