Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

DE LA SOUL

Rap group from Amityville Long Island, innovators in stark soft-hued contrast to Public Enemy's hard political edge, formed '87 by vocalists Trugoy The Dove (yogurt backwards; b David Jolicoeur, 21 September 1968) and Posdnous (b Kevin Mercer, 17 August 1969) with DJ Pacemaster Mase (b Vincent Mason, 24 March 1970) with producer Prince Paul (Houston), who had worked with local group Stetsasonic (incidentally one of the first rap groups to use a live drummer; Paul left after three albums on Tommy Boy). Mase brought Paul a tune, they made a demo in Manhattan and shopped it around, ending up on Tommy Boy. First album 3 Feet High And Rising '89 went top 30 USA/UK (on Big Life UK), an influential fusion of melody, comedy skits and samples from Hall and Oates to Steely Dan and back again. They were at the centre of the Native Tongues posse, a loose alliance of like-minded East Coast hip-hoppers (see Rap). The staying power of the debut album (top 25 USA, eventually sold 2m worldwide) embroiled them in copyright lawsuits over the sampling (they were sued with partial success by the Turtles) and questions about flower-power 'DAISY' iconography (actually an acronym for 'Da Inner Sound Y'all'. De La Soul Is Dead '91 reflected some new-found cynicism, but Buhloone Mindstate '93 and Stakes Is High '96 (no. 15 USA) were impressively sophisticated. Their first-time use of skits became almost standard on rap albums and the injection of humour was a welcome relief from some of the genre's bombast.