A New Documentary Shows The Amazing 29-Year Journey Of De La Soul (Video)
De La Soul have always been about looking forward. That attitude has kept them relevant in Hip-Hop for nearly 3 decades, and made them trendsetters for much of that period. In 2016, they’ve been the subject of conversation as much as at any time in their career, as their record-setting crowdfunding campaign led to one of the most creative albums in years, both in terms of how it sounds and how it was made. The culmination was that LP, and the Anonymous Nobody, debuting at #1 on the Billboard Rap Chart earlier this week. And, while, their documentary, We’re Still Here (now)… a documentary about nobody, brilliantly captured where De La Soul is now, a new film produced by Mass Appeal serves as the perfect companion piece, as a retrospective showing De La’s amazing journey from 1987 to the present.
De La Soul Is Not Dead: The Documentary starts at the very beginning, with Posdnuos’ younger brother showing Amityville Memorial High School, the place were each of Pos, Dave (fka Trugoy The Dove) and Maseo met. It was also where they would connect with Prince Paul, their producer partner for their first three albums. From there, the film begins to unfold.
A good portion is devoted to the earliest days, with more than 16 minutes of the 29-minute film focusing on what would become known as De La’s D.A.I.S.Y. age. The documentary shows in great detail how radical of a departure the group was from everything in Hip-Hop at the time, from their clothes to their innovative sampling to the subject matter of their rhymes. It also shows the burden that came with their seismic cultural shift, as the group became boxed in with the expectations created by their debut.
De La Soul Is Not Dead also addresses the group’s rebellion against their first album and the image it created, explaining how the concept of their sophomore album, De La Soul Is Dead, was born. The group’s feelings about overlooked albums like Buhloon Mindstate are also explored, as well as their eventual split with Prince Paul with the making of Stakes Is High. Many of De La’s 2000s efforts, such as Art Official Intelligence: Mosaic Thump, AOI: Bionix and The Grind Date are not covered, but the film concludes with discussion about their most recent album.
In addition to the members of De La themselves, many of the key contributors in their career appear in the film, including Prince Paul, Tom “Tommy Boy” Silverman, former Tommy Boy Records president Monica Lynch, A&R executive Dante Ross, and producer Skeff Anselm.