De La Soul is back. It’s been 11 years since their last studio album, and it just released today. Named, “and the Anonymous Nobody”, it features Jill Scott, Snoop Dogg, Pete Rock, Usher, Little Dragon, 2 Chainz, among others.
So why does it matter? For all of you not old or educated enough, alongside A Tribe Called Quest they’re arguably the best hip hop formation of all time. Debuting in 1989 with their critically acclaimed “3 Feet High and Rising”, they were the start of a new movement within hip hop, which we would call “hippy-hop”. Lyrics focus not on “the goodlife”, but rather on happiness, love and knowledge-dropping. Together with the always upbeat beats on their tracks, gave their music a real ‘hippy’ feel – which was then, and still is today a different perspective on things. Before moving on, let’s be clear. We’re not claiming “older hip hop is better hip hop”. Not at all. We listen to just as many “goodlife” tracks as the next person. We’re just giving it context, for those of you who aren’t familiar with De La Soul.
Fast forward to 1996 when they dropped “Stakes is High”, they didn’t yet move away from the ‘hippy’ feel. The colorful album cover only reinforced that they weren’t going to budge. Despite the changing landscape of hip hop, they continued down their initial path of sharing love, happiness and knowledge-dropping. Come the 2000s, they released the Art Official Intelligence series (Mosaic Thump and Bionix), as well as The Grind Date. It was around this time, that their lyrics took a more ‘serious’ tone. Perhaps reflecting their age (47-46 years of age), the theme of knowledge-dropping sneaked its way to the foreground.
Now, 11 years later they’ve come back with another studio album. Why is it special, other than the 11 years? They financed the entire project through Kickstarter (see campaign here). At whatsgood. we were lucky enough to be able to invest in the project, but the core of the Kickstarter campaign was; “we want to sample our own music”. With the money raised, they rented their own studio space, recorded their own sounds with brass bands, etc.
" Sampling is basically copying a piece of sound, from one recording, and reusing it to create a new recording. It is how De La has always made music. The sampler is our instrument, but people who copy, and in this case "sample," have also been considered thieves and unoriginal. So, unfortunately a huge part of our career has also been spent fighting off the “sample police.” "
It’s a big step in hip hop, to be able to finance the production and distribution of an entire studio album through crowdfunding. So, beyond the 11 years of silence, the album also marks the introduction of crowdfunding. De La Soul continue to push the boundaries until today…
So give it a listen. Enjoy the smooth vibes, live instruments, knowledge-dropping and love, that is De La Soul (and watch the real throne).
Our Favorite Tracks:
Royalty Capes, Pain ft. Snoop Dogg, Snoopies ft. David Byrne, Drawn ft. Little Dragon, Nosed Up..