20 Years Later, De La Soul Credit Dave For Their Shift In Sound On “Stakes Is High”

Today (July 2) marks the 20th anniversary of Stakes Is High, arguably one of the most important LPs in De La Soul’s discography, a rare characteristic for an album released nearly a decade after a group’s debut. However,¬†Stakes Is High¬†represented a significant change in the group’s direction.

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The album was in many ways a reintroduction of Posdnuos, David Jude Jolicoeur (aka Trugoy), and Maseo. As is discussed in a recent interview with HipHopDX, Stakes Is High was the first project the group released that didn’t feature contributions from Prince Paul, De La Soul’s original producer and unofficial fourth member. A less celebrated facet of the album is Dave’s increased role, both in terms of lyricism and production. “I would definitely say that was a record where Dave definitely warranted a lot of leadership,” says Maseo. “He really came into his own as a full-fledged producer. He was toying around with it first and second album, not really heavily producing, maybe more so we were collaborating the majority of the time.” Though he mentions that both himself and Pos also contributed greatly to the album’s sound, it’s evident he venerates Dave for his work most. “Dave really came to life on Stakes is High, the entire project really. It did make a very important statement even for what we was feeling at that time with our turning point.

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From his own perspective, Dave says of the album “It was definitely a pivoting point of our career,” remarking on the fact that he believed De La Soul “were competing with a lot of groups out there and I think musically it had to change.” As such, he adds that the trio “had to compete with a lot of artists out there and not necessarily do what they were doing, but do something that could at least hang. Taking the seat of being the producers of this record was fun, sitting down and actually putting our heads together and putting beats together solely was really cool. It was an important record for us at that time, meant a lot for our career.”