De La Soul: The Definition of Reinvention

De La Soul is the definition of reinvention.

Sporting a career that spans twenty plus years, Posdnous, Trugoy, and Maceo have consistently pushed the margins of what Hip Hop looks, feels, and sounds like.

Hailing from Amityville, Long Island, the trio united in late 1980s. Their demo tape, Plug Tunin caught the ear Stetsasonic producer-slash-frontman, Prince Paul, who helped the group secure a record deal with Tommy Boy Records. In 1989, De La Soul released its seminal classic album, Three Feet High And Rising, a critical and commercial success by every measure. De La’s colorful presentation, leather Africa medallions, and “dawning of the D.A.I.S.Y. age” (Da Inner Sound Yall) proclamations stood out immediately amongst Hip Hop’s gangsta rap laden landscape.

The trio’s rhymes were strikingly non-aggressive, choosing to speak about peace and love with their distinctive brand of wittiness and tongue in cheek humor over pistol brandishing bravado. Not only was their content in stark contrast to their contemporaries, but their eclectic production pushed the boundaries for what was considered Hip Hop. De La pulled from reggae, pop, funk, jazz, and soul music when crafting their sound scape — a sonic shift at a time when rap music relied heavily on James Brown samples and old school break beats. Their combination of common man sensibilities and audio ingenuity solidified their position in the rapidly growing culture, quickly reaching gold (eventually platinum) record sales, opening doors contextually and stylistically for acts such as Arrested Development, A Tribe Called Quest, Digable Planets, and many others.

The D.A.I.S.Y. Age landed on Hip Hop.

That is until De La killed itself.


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