De La Soul is an American hip hop trio formed in 1987 on Long Island,
New York. The band 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 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, The Black Eyed Peas, and Digable Planets.[citation
needed] They were also influential in the early stages of rapper/actor
Mos Def's career, and are a core part of the Spitkicker collective.
They are the second longest standing Native Tongues Posse group,
after the Jungle Brothers.
In 1996, they appeared on the Red Hot Organization's compilation
CD, America is Dying Slowly, alongside Biz Markie, Wu-Tang Clan,
and Fat Joe, among many other prominent hip hop artists. The CD,
meant to raise awareness of the AIDS epidemic among African American
men, was heralded as "a masterpiece" by The Source magazine.
In 2006, the group won a Grammy for their collaboration with Gorillaz
on the single "Feel Good Inc."
De La Soul's debut album, 3 Feet High and Rising, released in 1989,
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
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 interlude track "Transmitting Live from
Mars", despite the fact that The Turtles did not 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".
 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
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
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. "Source" magazine
listed the album as one of their top 100 Hip Hop albums of all time,
stating that "its 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 2002, 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 self referential 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). The album's first single, "Breakadawn",
used a sample of Michael Jackson's "I Can't Help It" and
Smokey Robinson's "Quiet Storm". 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 an 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
In 2000, the songs "Area" and "Keepin' the Faith" were
featured in the movie Boiler Room.
 Stakes Is High
De La Soul performing live in London (England).
Considered to be one of the group's top works, 1996's Stakes Is
High was the first album not produced by Prince Paul, with overall
production credits given solely to the trio. Although it was met
with poor sales, it has been critically lauded for its music, lyricism,
and its overall message concerning the artistic decline rap music
began to face in the mid-90s. The title track and first single, produced
by Jay Dee, was not a hit, but the album's 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 peaked at #52 in the UK. 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, 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 third and final album in the AOI series was never released. 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,[citation
needed] which had been releasing its albums ever since its debut.
In the summer of 2002, 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!"",
featuring Double, and also appeared on the soundtrack of the game.
 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 9th Wonder, 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
In conjunction with the album's release, the group also offered
up the track "Come on Down" featuring Flavor Flav for remixing
on Sony's Acid Planet Web site. The winning remix was "Come
On Down (KY Raised NY Glazed)" by Interlude Jones who said he
tried to "take the influential sound of old New York hip hop
and marry it back to its roots."
 Beyond 2004
In 2005, De La Soul collaborated with Gorillaz on the hit single "Feel
Good Inc.," which won a Grammy for Best Pop Vocal Collaboration
after being nominated for a total of three Grammys. De La Soul
also appeared on the LA Symphony single "Universal" and
Posdnuos 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 Soul released a mixtape of new and old songs titled
Hip-Hop Mixtape. This album was covermount into British dance magazine
Mixmag. The same year, De Las Soul released another mixtape of new
and old songs, this time titled 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.
In 2008, the group joined A Tribe Called Quest, Nas, the Pharcyde
and others on the annual Rock the Bells tour. De La Soul were
honorees at the 5th Annual VH1 Hip Hop Honors on October 6, 2008.
In late 2008 the group collaborated with Dan Le Sac Vs Scroobius
Pip and re-recorded its debut single "Thou Shalt Always Kill."
De La Soul returned as a guest on the third Gorillaz studio album,
Plastic Beach alongside Super Furry Animals frontman Gruff Rhys on
the song "Superfast Jellyfish."
The band is currently working on its third Art Official Intelligence
disc, AOI III.
 Are You In?
De La Soul and Nike released Are You In?: Nike+ Original Run, which
was the group’s first original material since The Impossible:
Mission TV Series - Pt. 1. The album features Raheem DeVaughn as
well as production from the Chicago based duo Flosstradamus. The
recording is a single-track recording at 44 minutes, 17 seconds and
was made available exclusively through iTunes. It is part of a continuing
series of releases through the “Nike+ Sport Music” section
of the online store. Are You In? was scheduled for release on 28
April 2009, but was not immediately available due to technical issues.
The recording is designed to be listened to while on a run and features
10 "tracks" through a "Continuous Mix." The track
listing from the liner notes (iTunes' digital booklet) are: Mornin'
Rise feat. Raheem DeVaughn (starting at 0:00), Good Morning (7:41),
Big Mouf (13:07), Attack Of 'The Stet' (17:04), Pick Up The Pace
(Run) (21:15), Poetic Greed feat. Gina Loring (26:08), Greedy Man
feat. Billy Ray (27:00), We O.D. (32:01), Victory Laps (34:14), and
Group member Posdnuos said to ClashMusic.com of Are You In?, "It
had to feel like a De La album that wasn’t just a poster for
Nike – we wanted people to feel it was a great album on its
own terms. We always think things through and put quality into anything
we do – we never look to just take the cheque and run."
Main article: De La Soul discography
* 3 Feet High and Rising (1989)
* De La Soul is Dead (1991)
* Buhloone Mindstate (1993)
* Stakes Is High (1996)
* Art Official Intelligence: Mosaic Thump (2000)
* AOI: Bionix (2001)
* De La Mix Tape: Remixes, Rarities and Classics (2004)
* The Grind Date (2004)
* Hip-Hop Mixtape (2006)
* The Impossible: Mission TV Series - Pt. 1 (2006)
* Are You In?: Nike+ Original Run (2009)
* The Impossible Mission: Operation Japan (2009)
* You're Welcome (2012)