30 years in the game and still going strong: De La Soul are unique in hip-hop. They’ve never split up; they’ve never stopped making music; they’ve never stopped performing. Crucially, their output has rarely faltered, and they’re still making vital music to this day.
The New York trio began life with their cut ‘n’ paste, collage sound in the late-’80s to great acclaim with ‘Three Feet High & Rising’—one of the genre’s all-time classic. Sampling everything from Johnny Cash to nursery rhyme records to Barry White and Liberace, they pushed hip-hop into fertile new ground where the source material wasn’t restricted to instrumental breaks. In doing so, they paved the way for the likes of DJ Shadow, Wu-Tang Clan and countless others.
“We were willing to listen to everything. We were raised on that.”
Their eclectic approach to source material continues to this day. New Kickstarter-funded album ‘…and the Anonymous Nobody’ saw them record hundreds of hours of session musicians and collaborators and create samples from what they captured—making for a tongue-in-cheek reference to the litigation they faced for uncleared music use on their 1989 debut.
From Damon Albarn—who helped drive their desire to work with other artists when he brought them into his Gorillaz project—to Pete Rock, Estelle, Snoop Dogg, David Byrne and even The Darkness’ Justin Hawkins, it’s an incredibly varied list of conspirators that helps make the new record such a rich listen.
London DJ, Tayo Popoola, spoke with Pos, Dave and Maseo ahead of their listening party at Sonos Studio to hear about the album, their early days of sharing music in their homes and how their eclectic nature was formed. Check it out below: