De La Soul (1988- )

De La Soul Album Cover

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De La Soul is a hip-hop trio that consists of Kelvin “Posdnous” Mercer, Kevin Jude “Trugoy” Jolicoeur, and Vincent Lamont “Maseo” Mason Jr., all from the Amityville area of Long Island, New York. De La Soul was formed in 1988 and released its first album, 3 Feet High and Rising, the following year. The album includes the singles, “Plug Tunin,” “Potholes in My Lawn,” “Buddy,” “Eye Know,” “Me Myself and I,” “Say No Go,” and “The Magic Number.” The album sold a million units and was certified platinum. It was also nominated for a Grammy Award in 1990 for Best Rap Performance.

In 1991, De La Soul released their second album, De La Soul Is Dead which featured the singles “A Roller-Skating Jam Named Saturdays,” “Ring Ring Ring (Ha Ha Hey),” and “Millie Pulled a Pistol on Santa”/”Keeping the Faith.” That album sold over 500,000 units and was certified gold. Their third album, Buhloone Mindstate, was released in 1993. It featured the singles “Breakdown” and “Ego Trippin (Part Two), but failed to sell 500,000 units. In 1996, the group released album four, Stakes Is High which featured the singles “Stakes Is High,” “Itzsoweezee (HOT),” and “4More,” but like the previous one, it failed to sell 500,000 units. In 2000, De La Soul released their fifth album, Art Official Intelligence: Mosaic Trump which featured the singles “Oooh,” “Thru Ya City,” and “All Good?”  Although the album did not make sales of 500,000 units, it was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group in 2001.

De La Soul in Front of the Apollo (Okayplayer)

The group released other album over its career including AOI: Bionix (2001), The Grind Date (2004), Plug 1 & Plug 2 Present… First Serve (2012) And the Anonymous Nobody (2016). In 2006, De La Soul won a Grammy Award for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals with the group, Gorillaz, for the single “Feel Good Inc.”

Despite their success, De La Soul has been involved in many controversies. During the 1990s, the group had high profile rap feuds with Tupac “2Pac” Shakur and Naughty By Nature. The group was also involved in a catalog dispute with their record label, Tommy Boy Records in 2019. De La Soul wanted its catalog to be available on digital services and was unhappy with getting 10% of the revenue with the rest going to the record label. Many hip hop artists, including Nasir “Nas” Jones, Peter “Pete Rock” Phillps, and Ahmir Khalib “Questlove” Thompson, joined De La Soul to boycott Tommy Boy Records in protest. In 2021, when the music company, Reservoir Media acquired Tommy Boy for $100 million, they agreed to give De La Soul rights to the group’s music. La Soul remains active in the music business as of 2022.