De La Soul signs with Elektra, Plays Whistler 

Who: De La Soul with Stir Fry Collective

Where : Whistler Conference Centre

When: March 30

After 13 years with Tommy Boy, they’ve shifted gears, but not their sound.

The long-term rap group De La Soul, made up of Posdnuous, Trugoy (Dave), and Maseo, won a Grammy for their 1989 debut, 3 Feet High and Rising.

They continue to produce, and recently signed with Electra Records of New York.

Album three of their Art Official Intelligence , three-disc series has been put on hold in lieu of a new, yet-to be titled record.

Mosaic Thump and Bionics, the first two in A.O.I., featured an array of guest vocals. Rappers turned funky social lyricists the Beastie Boys, Busta Rhymes, and singer Chaka Khan, of the 1989 anthem, I Feel For You, were included.

"It was such a great moment for me working on All Good with Chaka Khan, on a song I produced," says Pos.

"She was so down to earth, which put aside any fear I had about which way the music would go, and just said ‘How can I help put this together? Let me know what you want from me and I’ll give it the best I’ve got’," he says.

De La Soul, who are also signed with Blacksmith Management, are in talks with Elektra’s producers regarding an Internet version of the third disc in the series.

Although Pos was pleased with the efforts of Tommy Boy over their 13-years together, the band feels at times the promotion could have been better.

"A lot of major moves and decisions were made by the company, and our job as artists is to create, but their job as the company is really to sell it."

Collaboration can be a dicey area in music that involves a lot of sampling.

While working with A Tribe Called Quest on the re-mixed single Buddy worked out, a clash with the Turtles group resulted in 1991’s sombre album title, De La Soul Is Dead .

The record was issued after a court case in which the Turtles sued De La Soul for sampling from their single You Showed Me.

Buhloone Mindstate was then released in 1993, featuring Maceo Parker, En Focus and Ego Trippin’, although a falling out with the Jungle Brothers at that time made for a rocky start. De La Soul rejuvenated and reconciled with the Jungle Brother’s on the 1996 single, How You Want It.

Longevity as musical artists is the challenge, and the band sees the new move to Elektra as a fresh start.

The band feels that fans now want to hear the talk about a record and see and hear promotions on air. They want total bombardment before they will buy an album.

"Winning the Grammy (for the single Me, Myself, and I) was great, and especially at that point when rap wasn’t really being televised, so it was great to show that acceptance at the show," he adds.

"These days there are over 200 groups, whereas back in the day when we started there were only five or six albums out in the rap genre," he says.

Visual media like TV is useful for adding to an album’s prestige. Nothing new in the world of music, but always useful.

The American Music Awards (AMA) have also given the nod to De La Soul through the years, and the group says they’re been blessed.

Once dubbed as "hippie rappers," in more recent times De La Soul has given their time to social benefits like the Free Tibet Freedom concerts in 1996 and 1997, spearheaded by the Beastie Boys. The goal of the concerts, which featured Canadian rocker Alanis Morrissette among other young notables, was to spread a message of non-violence and freedom of Tibet’s people.

The band organized the Spitkicker Tour, which featured Talib Kweli and the Common’s "Desperation", to showcase music in the hip hop and rap veins that to them, represent socially conscious songs.

De la Soul also played the 2001 Mekka Electronic Tour, which featured UK DJ Paul Oakenfold and Crystal Method. They will also join the last leg of this year’s Vans Warped Tour, promising continuing action from the rap trio.

"We always try to include the audience at our shows and give them the best energy we have, and we hope at some point people check out the latest album."

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