With clever wordplay, a quirky sense of humor and an imaginative way of utilizing samples, De La Soul have long been celebrated as one of the most creative, influential groups in hip-hop.
However, throughout the lifetime of digital music streaming, the first six albums created by Posdnuos, Trugoy the Dove and Maseo have been more-or-less unavailable thanks to sample clearance issues and various other industry hurdles.
Finally, in the summer of 2021, that began to change. Rights to the Long Island trio’s former label Tommy Boy were acquired by Reservoir Media – and after that, it was a matter of time before the group retrieved their masters.
Now, those first six albums are finally available for public consumption in the digital domain. Unfortunately, the long-overdue campaign transpires as De La Soul copes with the Feb. 12, 2023, death of Trugoy (born David Jude Jolicoeur) at 54. A cruel twist of fate, but the newfound availability of their catalog will no doubt only punctuate the importance he had on the hip-hop landscape.
The newly available sextet of albums consists of the trio’s classic 1989 debut 3 Feet High and Rising; its follow-up 1991 masterpiece De La Soul Is Dead; 1993’s jazzy Buhloone Mindstate; 1996’s rugged Stakes Is High, 2000’s Art Official Intelligence: Mosaic Thump; and 2001’s AOI: Bionix.
These albums join the trio’s more recent albums – including 2004’s The Grind Date and 2016’s And The Anonymous Nobody… — on Spotify, Tidal, Apple Music and the like, giving a brand new generation of music fans the opportunity to discover the humor, intelligence and poignancy De La Soul brought to the table for decades.
But if you’re not already a De La diehard, where do you start in their catalog to best absorb the essence of the knowledge kicked by the Plugs? Most everyone somewhat familiar with the group knows their biggest hit, “Me Myself and I,” which peaked at No. 1 on Billboard’s R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart in 1989 and reached the top 40 of the Billboard Hot 100. And while the tune is a perfect conduit into the heart of hip-hop’s Daisy Age, De La Soul have so many classic jams that it’s unfair for them to be defined strictly by their biggest hit.
For better acuity, Billboard has selected 10 additional De La Soul cuts that stand as the trio’s finest works on wax to wit. Rest in Peace, Dave.
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