De La Soul's Vincent 'Pasemaster Mase' Mason

Innovative "D.A.I.S.Y. Age" rappers De La Soul will release a three-CD set of new

material one disc at a time this year. The still-untitled first album will be issued in June,

with the second album following in September and the final disc two months later.

Tommy Boy, De La Soul's record label, said the discs will be produced by the band and

will feature many guest appearances, some by non-hip-hop artists.

De La Soul rapper Vincent "Pasemaster Mase" Mason was born 29 years ago today in

Brooklyn, N.Y. In high school he became friends with Posdnous (born Kelvin Mercer)

and Trugoy the Dove (born David Jude Joliceur) in the late '80s.

Mase's cohorts took their stage names from in-jokes: Posdnous was Mercer's DJ name,

Sound-Sop, backwards; Trugoy was an inversion of Joliceur's favorite food, yogurt.

Prince Paul, the leader of rappers Stetsasonic, liked De La Soul's demo tape and

helped the group secure a contract with Tommy Boy.

Prince Paul also produced De La Soul's debut album, 3 Feet High and Rising

(1989), featuring the hit "Me Myself and I." The LP promoted peace and love, and

presented rap in a much lighter, less-threatening form. De La Soul labeled their lilting,

psychedelic sounds "D.A.I.S.Y. Age" (Da Inner Sound,Y'all). De La Soul disliked the

neo-hippie label they received, but their innovative sound led to an explosion of similar

rap artists, including A Tribe Called Quest, Queen Latifah, the Jungle Brothers and

Monie Love. These acts grouped themselves together as the Native Tongues Posse.

De La Soul also had a hit with Queen Latifah, "Mama Gave Birth To The Soul Children,"

and appeared on the Jungle Brothers' "Doing Our Own Dang."

De La Soul's witty rhymes and rap/pop/jazz/reggae mix were all the rage for a while. But

as the '90s progressed, the harder-edged gangsta rap stole the spotlight. The band also

lost a lawsuit in which '60s group the Turtles sued De La Soul for sampling the former

band's "You Showed Me" on "Transmitting Live from Mars," a track on De La Soul's

debut. Following the suit, all samples by all groups had to be legally cleared before the

release of an album.

De La Soul Is Dead was delayed because of sampling concerns until 1991. The

LP was darker than its predecessor and yielded the minor R&B hit "Ring Ring Ring (Ha

Ha Hey)." Two years later came the funky Buhloone Mind State, a critically lauded

but poorly selling effort. Stakes Is High (1996), featuring tracks such as "Supa

Emcees," also stiffed.

De La Soul were represented on last year's Tommy Boy's Greatest Beats. The

album featured the group's "Buddy" (RealAudio excerpt), which also

includes Queen Latifah, the Jungle Brothers, Q-Tip and Monie Love.

Earlier this year, De La Soul guested on "Props Vote Of Gratitude," a track on the U.K. EP

of techno-rockers the Propellerheads.

Hip-hop DJ Funkmaster Flex said recently: "Tommy Boy put out some of the greatest rap

records back in the day ... Songs like ... [De La Soul's] 'Me Myself and I' are classics."

De La Soul have influenced such acts as Beck, Arrested Development, P.M. Dawn and

Camp Lo.

Other birthdays: Lee Oskar (War), 51, and Billy Stewart, 1937-1970.