History: De La Soul Is DEAD 20 YRS Later “Dust It Off” by John Book
Photo shot by Ben Franzen
Salute to one of my all-time favorite groups in any genre of music De La Soul!
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the classic album “De La Soul Is DEAD” and i wanted to go all out on this post, but after reading this incredible article by John Book i chose to let his words do the speaking.
Well done my man.
Cover artwork by @joe_ArtilleryDS (Joe Buck)
In the June 1991 issue of The Source, there were full page ads for new albums byTerminator X, Young Black Teenagers, Ed O.G. & Da Bulldogs, Cypress Hill,Success-N-Effect, KMC, Tony Dee, and Chubb Rock. Within its pages were articles covering people such as The Genius, Nia Peeples (then-host of The Party Machine), and Lifers Group. There were still regional scene reports, with people like Billy Jam covering the Bay Area, Geoffrey Watts covering Chicago, and DJ Plooking into the music of L.A. Inside were reviews of music by Rodney O & Joe Cooley, Dream Warriors, 3rd Bass‘ new single “Pop Goes The Weasel”, Kid Capri, Busy Bee, and YZ. Of interest was an article by Scott Poulson-Bryant on the power of Fishbone, whose “alternativeness” (compared to the regulars in The Source) made them a potential crossover. There’s also an article by Chris Webberon police brutality. The magazine also had a section called Unsigned Hype, where young artists could submit a demo tape in the hopes of being recognized for potential signage. In this issue of The Source was the magazine’s first and only DJ to be honored in the column, an 18-year old music man from Davis, California who called himself Shadow. He made music with a Yamaha MT-100 4-track recorder, and impressed writer Matty C enough to put him in the magazine. We now know Shadow as DJ Shadow.
However, the focus of any magazine is the cover story and for this issue it was De La Soul and the release of their long awaited second album, what was called De La Soul Is Dead. There was also an “anonymous” editorial at the beginning of the magazine which looked at what they felt was Rap Music’s Identity Crisis, so the idea that this music was having issues was very apt. I’ve often cited the idea that rap music was going through a moment of uncertainty in 1990. Rap music was grand and bold, but I had wondered if artists were wondering if this hip trend would be over with, that the “fad” would no longer be valid in the 1990′s. Yo-Yo may have been ready to stomp into the new decade, but were major labels ready? Little did we know how ready major labels, and corporate America, would be.
As for De La, the group were still celebrating the popularity of 3 Feet High And Rising, which was not only an album with a good amount of singles (and videos to go with it), but was also cited for its use of unauthorized samples. Some were wondering of De La Soul could actually do a second album, since many felt 3 Feet High And Rising, produced by Stetsasonic DJ/producer Prince Paul, was too freaky, too weird, too “out there”, too… dare I say, “white”? It left many to call what De La did “alternative hip-hop”, since what they were doing was a complete 180 to what was being pushed in the mainstream media. Keep in mind The Sourcewas still a rap magazine barely available in stores, and it’s safe to say very few understood (or wanted to understand) what Posdnous, Trugoy, P.A. Pasemaster Mase, and Prince Paul were trying to do or say. De La Soul spoke of the “D.A.I.S.Y. Age”, which they said on the first album meant “Da Inner Sound, Y’all”, but when everyone saw flowers, paisley clothes, and homemade Flowbee-type haircuts on these guys from Amityville, New York, people were like “damn, are these fuckers really from Mars?” They poked fun at themselves, but it seemed as if it was at the cost of people thinking they were legitimate, as if all they were was a bunch of day-glo nerds. Maybe they were, but their second album was a strategic move to kill the misconceptions, and arguably themselves.
To read the rest of this article go to THIS IS BOOKS MUSIC