Dave, Maseo & Pos Reminisce On Before De La Soul Was Born (Video)

Unlike Hip-Hop artists in the digital age, many 1980s and 1990s acts do not have extensive recordings prior to their first album. Long Island, New York trio De La Soul had history prior to 1989’s gold-certified 3 Feet High And Rising debut. Little of that history has been released, due to the fact that aside from demo recordings, resources were limited. As guests this week on Trevor Nelson’s BBC Radio 1 Extra show, Posdnuos, Dave, and Maseo illustrated some of the earliest days surrounding the Native Tongues game-changers.

Starting with Dave, who went by “Devious D” in the days before his Tommy Boy Records deal, the members revealed their earliest Rap names. For much of De La’s ’80s and early ’90s success, Dave was known as Trugoy The Dove. Pos’ revealed that he was known by “MC Legiticus.” Mase’, whose given name is Vincent Mason, confirmed he started out as “Vince La Prince.”

At the 1:55 mark, Dave is asked about the earliest rhyme of his he can recall. Before answering, both Posdnuos and Maseo claim they can recite it. They do, with only slight differences. At the time of penning it, Dave was already referring to himself as “the D-O-V-E.” This moment is a great testament to De La’s nearly 30 years together—without ever breaking the group.

At 3:00, Trevor asks the two MCs about verses others wrote that they wish they had. Pos’ begins, “One that I would immediately say, because I love everything about it, was ‘Poetry’ by Boogie Down Productions [vocalized by] KRS-One.” “Poetry,” the lead track to 1987’s Criminal Minded, released more than two years before De La’s debut LP.

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Dave selected a song from the 1990s. “Honestly, when I think of the song ‘Dear Mama’ by Tupac, it’s one of those songs where you’re like, ‘Man, that was so straight up.’ It was just so innocent, it was just so real.” “Dear Mama” would be a single on 1995’s #1 album Me Against The World. That album featured extensive production from De La’s label-mate and ‘Pac mentor Shock G, of Digital Underground. Dave continues, “To be able to speak about subjects—in regards to your mom, that’s difficult. And to actually air it out to the world, lyrics like that are not something that somebody [just] wrote—he cried. It’s lyrics like that that I wish I would have written.”

Notably, on 1996’s four-times-platinum #1 album The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory—released (as “Makaveli”) just months after Tupac’s murder, the Thug Life rapper dissed De La Soul on “Against All Odds.”

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Elsewhere in the interview, the group discusses its strong attachment to Carl Thomas collaboration, “It’s Like That.” The song appeared on 2004’s The Grind Date, the most recent album from De La leading up to next month’s and the Anonymous Nobody (August 26).