Maseo Details How Beats Stetsasonic Rejected Helped Form De La Soul’s 1st Album (Video)

De La Soul’s 3 Feet High and Rising is a benchmark Hip-Hop album. The introduction of Posdnuos, Trugoy (nka Dave), and Maseo proved to be a crucial link in the evolution of Native Tongues. It also showcased the producer who Maseo today credits as De La’s “fourth member.” Following the 1989 LP, Prince Paul would be re-branded as a sonic mad scientist.

In an interview with 247HH, Maseo, who produced alongside Paul, reveals some interesting facts about the group’s debut. Namely, Plug 3 describes his early connection with Paul Huston. Prince Paul was a Long Islander in a Brooklyn, New York Hip-Hop group: Setsasonic. Meanwhile, Mase’, born Vincent Mason, was a kid from BK who had just moved to the island.

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“[Prince] Paul came up to [my] high school and I happened to be moving between periods. I maybe had two periods left and he came by the cafeteria and said, ‘Hey, what you doing?’ I was like, ‘Nothing now.’ I seized the moment, cut my last two classes and rode out with Paul,” Maseo recalls, in admiration of the prodigy in the elite Rap crew. “Paul started playing me the early recordings of In Full Gear before it dropped.” The sophomore album from Daddy O, Frukwan, DBC, Bobby Simmons, Wise, Delite, and Paul released on Tommy Boy in 1988. “He was playing a bunch of stuff and I was like, ‘Yo this is incredible, incredible, a full ride of, ‘This is incredible,’ and he started to play me things that didn’t make the record. He was like, ‘Yo, let me play you some other stuff.’ He started playing me some stuff he was working on that didn’t make the record. I was like, ‘Yo, this is crazy.'” Despite Maseo’s enthusiasm, Paul reportedly was frustrated that Stetsasonic was passing on the beats.

It was right there that Maseo saw a major opportunity for his fledgling high school group.

“Somehow I got that real moment to be like ‘Yo Paul, I want you to check out this stuff I’m doing and he was like, ‘You keep saying that, let’s go to your house and get it now,” Maseo remembers. “So we go to the house, we get it, I play him ‘Plug Tunin’.’ [There were] a hundred different ways we did ‘Plug Tunin” before the way [it made the album]. I played him ‘Potholes On My Lawn,’ I played him [‘The Magic Number’] before it even had a title. ‘D.A.I.S.Y. Age’ was also one of the tracks we had.”

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The producer/DJ took interest. “I was compelled to get Paul to hear this stuff this particular day when he was venting about the stuff that wasn’t going to make the In Full Gear album,” he continues. “It was tracks like [De La Soul’s eventual] ‘Can You Keep A Secret’ that was slotted for [Stetsasonic]. It was different things that made the 3 Feet High and Rising album that was for the In Full Gear album.”

Last week, De La appeared on London-based singer-songwriter Tom Misch’s latest single “It Runs Through Me.” At the end of last year, DJ Premier revealed that he and Pete Rock would be handling all of the production on the Long Island trio’s next LP.