De La Soul & The Roots Perform Stakes Is High In Spectacular Fashion

Last night (March 17) on The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon, De La Soul performed their iconic track “Stakes Is High” with The Roots, in what was a poignant and emotional moment. The performance was made all the more significant by the absence of Dave, De La Soul’s founding member along with Posdnuos and Maseo, who recently passed away.

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To fill Dave’s role, Black Thought stepped in, seamlessly flowing through Plug 2’s verses alongside Posdnuous, as Maseo held down the turntables and The Roots held down the rest. As they performed, the energy on stage was palpable.

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The Roots’ Questlove took to Instagram to share his thoughts on the performance. “You are watching a 16 yr old art major & his 18 yr old best friend from high school travel 34 years into the future,” said the drummer born Ahmir Thompson. “De La Soul bonded us. Solidified us. Inspired us to pursue our dream. I can’t think of a better moment in celebrating this institution for these high school nerds than this moment right now. I’ve checked many a bucketlist artist in our 14 years here….but this one took everything in me to stand strong and celebrate the passing of Dave Jolicoer……watching it on tv? I cried like a baby. This might be possibly one of my favorite moments doing what I love to do with the people I love doing my art with alongside the people who inspired me to go the creative path that I’m still fortunate to do since my high school days. Eternal gratitude to the universe for this dream manifesting. ‘Well Tariq we just rocked on the Tonight Show w De La Soul to a song helmed by J Dilla….'”

As the performance came to a close, The Roots lowered the music to let Posdnuos rap his final verse a cappella. This stripped-down moment allowed Posdnuos’ words to take on heightened emotion, as he rapped powerful lines like “Neighborhoods are now hoods ’cause nobody’s neighbors. Just animals survivin’ with that animal behavior.”

The performance ended with Dave’s image appearing on a screen, accompanied by him saying “It’s a moment in our lives that was really important to us. It guided us in a direction that has made us into who we are today–fighting for our music, fighting for our legacy.” Presumably Dave was speaking about De La Soul finally securing the right to put their Tommy Boy Records music catalog on streaming services. As fans know, he passed just weeks before seeing that dream become a reality, making the victory all the more bittersweet.

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As we continue to mourn the loss of Dave, performances like this serve as a reminder of the power of music to bring us together, to inspire us, and to help us heal. De La Soul may never be the same without Dave, but their legacy lives on, and their music continues to inspire new generations of artists and fans alike.