De La Soul formed while the trio
- Posdnuos (born Kelvin Mercer, August 17, 1969)
- Trugoy the Dove (b. David Jude Jolicoeur, September 21, 1968)
- Pasemaster Mase (b. Vincent Mason, March 27, 1970)
— were attending high school in the late '80s. The stage names of all of the members derived from in-jokes: Posdnuos was an inversion of Mercer's DJ name, Sound-Sop; Trugoy was an inversion of Jolicoeur's favorite food, yogurt. De La Soul's demo tape, "Plug Tunin'," came to the attention of Prince Paul
, the leader and producer of the New York rap outfit Stetsasonic
. Prince Paul played the tape to several colleagues and helped the trio land a contract with Tommy Boy Records
After the release of their first record, several critics and observers labeled the group as a neo-hippie band, because the record praised peace and love, as well as proclaiming the dawning of "the D.A.I.S.Y. age" (Da Inner Sound, Y'all). Though the trio was uncomfortable with the hippie label, there was no denying that the humor and eclecticism presented an alternative to the hardcore rap that dominated hip-hop. De La Soul quickly were perceived as the leaders of a contingent of New York-based alternative rappers which also included A Tribe Called Quest, Queen Latifah, the Jungle Brothers and Monie Love; all of these artists dubbed themselves the Native Tongues Posse.
For a while, it looked like the more positive, non-violent wave of rap would eclipse the harder vein. "Me, Myself, and I" became a Top 40 hit in the US, and the record went gold. After some legal troubles involving the sampling of the Turtles song "You Showed Me" on 3 feet high and rising, their production process was slowed greatly. Artists were now required to clear all samples legally before releasing a record.
Since then, De La Soul has spent quite a few years in between records, with their newest being released in a trilogy, of sorts. They still have quite a following, and are generally regarded as one of the more talented acts in rap, collaborating with Ad Rock of the Beastie Boys, and Busta Rhymes.
- 3 Feet High and Rising (1989)
- De La Soul is Dead (1991)
- Buhloone Mindstate (1993)
- Stakes is High (1996)
- Art Official Intelligence: Mosaic Thump (2000)
- Art Official Intelligence: Bionix (2001)