Linking out to a news piece on RollingStone.com, De La Soul's official site states: "Check back on Valentine's Day at 11 AM EST for some de la love!" As it turns out, they're releasing their back catalog for free partly due to difficulty clearing their innovative samples. It's another element that seems to be slowing their transition to the contemporary scene but, according to them, self-criticism may be as big a problem.
It's hard to describe the impact of De La Soul. If you don't know much I'm not even sure about the best place to send you though you can gather some soulless details from Wikipedia. But in 2001 when I was getting to know lyrical freestyle artists, not battle rappers, in Greensboro, NC, these sharp young men included De La Soul in the influences that formed their understanding of what hip hop could be.
From what I gather, their jazz samples also turned a bunch of kids on to jazz at a time when a lot of people seemed to have turned their back on what is possibly the most advanced art form originated in America.
So, no, it's not all just oddball psychedelic references and supposedly soft lyrics.
De La Soul Said They'd Be Releasing New Music Last Year
Last year they announced that they were going to start releasing singles in a way that fit today's world of ongoing track releases. But they dropped the "Get Away" video and that's the last I heard though my not hearing doesn't really tell you much about them.
But despite their talk of singles they were also discussing an album to be released last year called "You're Welcome."
De La Soul - 3 Feet High and Rising
In their latest interview with RollingStone.com group member Posdnuos states that the album is "coming along amazingly" yet:
"We have tons of music, but we're our own worst critics...Certain groups have too many 'yes men.' In our group, we have too many 'no men.' When we look back on some of the stuff we have, we're like, 'Yo, we need to just put this out.' The album is still called You're Welcome, but we also have this whole other album that we're working on that…Wooo, I wish I could talk about it."
Clearly they are still struggling with new strategies. Shifting to ongoing singles releases would have allowed them to bypass the issues related to agreeing on a full album without stopping them from choosing to release a full album when they so desired.
But they seem to be ready to resume and the first step is apparently releasing all their old music at 11 am today for Valentine's Day through noon on Saturday. Yes, it's EST. They're old school hip hop. You know, New York.
Still Adapting To The Digital Age
This move is both enabled by the digital era but has also been forced by the digital era. Their music is in the Library of Congress but they can't put it on iTunes.
The big problem is sampling which I imagine could be quite pricey at this point, especially given their quoting of classic jazz tracks, but also what are described as problems with "frequent personnel changes at record labels and hazy language in early contracts."
So they're giving it to you and if the server gods hold up and the lawyers hold off, you might be able to get it today or tomorrow without filesharing. I'm going in early cause this is not to be missed.
This free deluge will be followed by new songs to be posted on their upcoming new site, the release of "You're Welcome" by summer (their first album in 10 years) and a 6 song EP next month called "Preemium Soul on the Rocks."
So they're sort of adjusting to the digital age but, so far, except for releasing stuff they can't release in other forms, it sounds pretty much like business as usual.
On the other hand, they're still growing as Posdnuos describes:
"We're just getting in the mode of constantly giving people new music...I'll be the first to say that not everyone can do it. You can put out a new mixtape every week, but it can dilute what you're putting out because you haven't had enough time to see what's going on with your life to write something from a different angle. With us, we've sat a long time without releasing an album. It's high time we start releasing a bunch of stuff because it's there."
It would be great to see De La Soul make a solid return to releasing music. At this stage they're the kind of act parents are trying to turn their kids on to. And they've got a solid base to continue as a legacy act while putting out new music.
So here we go.
Hypebot Senior Contributor Clyde Smith (Twitter/Facebook) is currently relaunching All World Dance. To suggest topics about music tech, DIY music biz or music marketing for Hypebot, contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.