Beats, rhymes and life are three of the corners where hip hop intersects. Few other TV shows have been able to cover all of these angles in-depth and authentically quite like REVOLT TV's "Drink Champs," which thrives on its candid conversations with the biggest and most influential figures in the game. In honor of such a one-of-a-kind show, REVOLT will be recapping each weekly "Drink Champs" episode, so you can always catch the gems that are dropped in each lit interview.
This week, groundbreaking rap group De La Soul stopped by the "Drink Champs" set to give the public the scoop on their legal battle with Tommy Boy Records, along with other untold gems. Hailing from Long Island, New York, De La Soul was considered one of rap's biggest acts during the late '80s through the '90s. Comprised of rappers Posdnous, Dave [aka Trugoy], and DJ Mase, De La Soul made a huge statement with their 1989 debut album, 3 Feet High and Rising. From there, De La Soul released a string of classic albums including De La Soul Is Dead, Buhloone Mindstate and Stakes Is High.
Following the release of the first two installments of their Art Official Intelligence series, De La Soul took their career into their own hands by transitioning to the indie circuit with albums like The Grind Date, and Plug 1 & Plug 2 Present... First Serve. Since then, the group only added to their legacy with their latest body of work, And the Anonymous Nobody, which earned the trio a Grammy nod for Best Rap Album. With three decades worth of skin in the game, De La Soul is considered as one of the preeminent and most consistent rap groups -- and with a story that continues to be written.
To help give fans a recap of the conversation, REVOLT TV compiled a list of nine gems from the De La Soul episode of "Drink Champs." Take a look at them below.
1. Why They're At Odds With Tommy Boy Records
One of the first topics addressed during the De La Soul episode of "Drink Champs" was the group's beef with Tommy Boy Records CEO Tom Silverman amid his plans to make the group's catalog available to streaming services. Group member Mase explains where things went sour between them and the CEO. "He presented an option that we felt was unfavorable. It was either we do this -- if we didn't respond at a certain time -- then, he would resort back to original soundtracks, which were soundtracks we signed from day one. We responded like we were supposed to. So, it was supposed to then, go from there. But, we didn't really get any communication going until the final hour," he explained.
2. The Origin Of Their Names
De La Soul is credited as one of the quirkiest and most inventive groups in hip hop, all the way down to their rap names, which derive from various monikers spelled backwards. De La member Posdnous gives the backstory on how this concept came to be. "[I] loved this named called Sop Sound. My mother was from the country -- Waynesboro, Georgia. She always would say, 'In my house, you better eat up everything on your plate,' like take that bread and sop up the syrup. So, Sound was like I was a DJ, but blending all these sounds and sopping all these sounds. So, when I started back towards trying to be an MC, I just turned everything backwards. 'Sop' became 'Pos' and 'Sound' became 'Dnous,'" he said.
3. The Rap Groups Who Influenced Them
It's always interesting to hear what artists rap legends were influenced by prior to making their own mark in the game. De La Soul members Dave and Posdnous listed some of the acts who inspired them to get behind the mic. "Who did we aspire to be like?" asks Dave. "Run D.M.C., KRS-One, Ultramagnetic [MCs]." Pos seconds Dave's mention of Ultramagnetic MCs, adding, "Utltramagnetic, definitely, but we were students of all that. We were students of Treacherous Three and all that. B.D.P."
4. Their Differences With 2Pac
Rap icon 2Pac is notorious for his penchant to call out and beef with other artists. But, one group who didn't expect to get caught in his cross-hairs was De La Soul. However, according to the trio, during the early '90s, that actually happened. "It started from the video for 'Ego Tripping,'" Posdnous remembers. "We're in this mansion, we're making fun of ourselves in terms of playing off if we have an ego, but someone's questioning it. So, if Dave is riding around in his car, it says he don't even own it, stuff like that. Chicks in the Jacuzzi and stuff like that. Adrian, who was managing him at the time, reached out to our peoples right at Tommy Boy and he was just like, 'Yo, he just feel like y'all are trying to play off and diss [the] 'I Get Around' video. And it wasn't even a beef thing."
"The way it was relayed to us, Pac was just disappointed 'cause he love us and we immediately let him know, like 'Nah, we had no thought about that. We didn't even see the angle in it.'"
5. Their Desire For Legislation In Hip Hop
With the advent of music streaming platforms altering the playing field for veteran rap artists and newcomers alike, there has been conversation surrounding how to properly compensate artists within the confines of these new business models. De La Soul member Dave gives his take on the need for a new system that will benefit the artists directly. "I mean, it's great to monetize it, harness it and change it into opportunities to earn from," he says about translating an artist's popularity into other avenues. "But you know what, it's like because of the subject matter we're dealing with right now, I also see the opportunity to make legislation to help new artists, future artists coming. We can all monetize, there's great ways to make that happen. But, we also gotta think the power is greater than just dollars and cents. So, I would love to see what comes out of our madness is legislation changing, man. People fighting and pushing for that. Hopefully this will inspire an attorney, hopefully this will inspire a young entrepreneur or someone who's in the game right now, who feels like we need to just change the rules a little bit."
6. Native Tongues
One of the more influential collectives in hip hop is the Native Tongues, which helped usher in a new brand of socially conscious rap for the everyday man or woman. De La Soul member Dave details the origins of the crew. "To begin with, it was us, Tribe and Jungle. We met at a gig, exchanged numbers, wound up hanging out. We did a show with Jungle Brothers in Boston, met them and then from there, it created a relationship. And then eventually, we was in the studio and we invited them to the studio. For us, it was like the studio is just like inviting friends and if you happen to be there, you're gonna be a part of what's going on," he said.
7. Art Official Intelligence Was Intended To Be A Triple Album
Two of the more popular albums in De La Soul's discography are the first two installments of their Art Official Intelligence album series. But, according to the group, releasing the albums separately was not in the original plan. "When we were still on Tommy Boy, we wanted to do, like, a triple album," Posdnous shares. "We was like, 'Yo, this could be really a dope thing to do.'" Dave adds, "At the time, Wu had came out with a double and we was like, 'Well, let's top all that and do a triple.' Just like how you say, we're gentlemen here, we give it when a person deserves it. Tom Silverman was like, 'That's crazy.' He just came up with a better idea, 'Why do three records when you can just do three installments?' As well as that much music, man, something gets lost in there. You feel like you wasted songs, all that. So, it was a good idea. We did AOI 1, we did AOI 2 and we still gotta do AOI 3. So, that's something that we been working towards."
8. De La Soul Almost Worked With Timbaland
After their departure from Tommy Boy Records, De La Soul had plenty of suitors attempting to acquire their talents, one of them being Sylvia Rhone. At the time, she was the head of Elektra Records. However, according to Posdnous, Rhone's request for them to work with a certain super producer caused them to balk the offer. "Sylvia [Rhone] really wanted us on Elektra," he reveals. "We met with her, looked like it could be a good thing. We were kinda like, 'Yo, this could be cool.' But, she wanted us to do the entire album with Timbaland. And it was like, 'Aight, we don't necessarily know Tim like that. We would like to know if he would be interested.' But then, we kinda had our own organic way of doing things. It just didn't work out, she wanted certain things creatively. Just like as Dave just said, you give props where props due. Tommy Boy always allowed us to just have free reign over our creativity. So, immediately seeing Sylvia try to control it kinda made us be like, 'I don't know if it would work here.'"
9. Meeting Prince
One common thread between many of the artists who appear on "Drink Champs" is their stories of meeting music icon Prince. During the course of De La Soul's sit-down with Noreaga and DJ EFN, group member Posdnous gives his own recollection of a run-in with the purple one. "We were working on the AOI: Mosaic Thump album," Pos recalls. "And basically at one point, Questlove, we was trying to work with him to see what he could contribute. Quest would always work out of Electric Lady. Basically, Electric Lady, I'm there with Questlove. We trying these different ideas to try to present. At one point, we had a drum sample in this song we had for the Mosaic Thump album called 'View' and we wanted to see if Questlove could play over it. So, when we get to the session, the session is set in stone. But, when I get there, Quest is telling me, 'Yo, I'm sorry.' I'm like, 'Sorry 'bout what?' [He's like] 'Yo, the session is still going, but you know, the god is here.' I'm like, 'What do you mean the god?' He was like, 'Prince is here.' At the time, Prince was in the studio and he was playing his new album for Warner [Bros.]. Now, this is, I guess after the slave thing. I think he was back on track with Warner Bros. and he had this new album that he had. So, he took control of all of the studios in Electric Lady, so that the Warner Bros. people could be listening to all these different tracks. I'm a Prince fan, but as a man, I was fucking pissed."
More by Preezy Brown: