GAMBIER, Ohio -- With a bundle of all-stars already lined up for
guest shots, De La Soul's next album, Art Official Intelligence,
will be a three-part opus.
The pioneering hip-hop trio have tapped fellow rappers Redman, Camp-Lo
and Xzibit as well as soul legend Al Green for the project. They also
expect to record tracks with rapper Busta Rhymes, pop-soul chanteuse
Sade, hip-hop crew the Goodie Mob and British trip-hoppers Portishead,
and they're hoping for a cameo from rap-punk band the Beastie Boys.
That may sound like a lot of voices to cram onto one album, but Art
Official Intelligence won't be an ordinary release. It'll be issued
as three separate CDs over the next year, with the first volume due in
September, the second in December and the remaining disc by February or
March 2000, according to a Tommy Boy Records spokesperson.
The triple set will not have a common theme, according to De La Soul's
Maseo (born Vincent Mason). Rather, Art Official Intelligence
will spotlight "just some ... real good songs, working with a lot of
people that we respect in the music industry -- some people who are
coming up ... as well as [some who are] established," Maseo, 29, said.
"These are bands that we have love for," bandmate Posdnuos (born Kelvin
Mercer) said as he sat with Maseo earlier this month in a dressing room
at Kenyon College, where De La Soul headlined the liberal-arts institution's
annual Summer Sendoff. "And we have always known [that these musicians]
have had a mutual respect for what we do."
It's been nearly three years since De La Soul's Stakes Is High
(1996) hit stores, but the trio have kept busy touring and appearing on
other artists' albums, including Common's One Day It Will All Make
Sense, DJ Honda's H II and Camp-Lo's Uptown Saturday Night.
The Long Island, N.Y., group, which also includes 30-year-old Trugoy the
Dove (born David Jude Joliceur), made a splash 10 years ago with its
debut album, 3 Feet High and Rising. The record's light, peace-loving
tone, expressed in such songs as "D.A.I.S.Y. Age" and "Me Myself and I,"
helped inspire a new spiritually and politically conscious movement in
hip-hop. De La Soul were also part of the Native Tongues, a loose group
of hip-hop acts that also included A Tribe Called Quest.
But De La Soul explored other sides of hip-hop on subsequent albums.
It's a tack they said they'll continue to take on Art Official
"We don't just want to show one side of ourselves," Posdnuos, 29, said.
"We didn't want to do a bunch of 'Me Myself and I's and keep milking it
until the fans got tired of us. ... We saw the bigger picture and ... we
could not simply stay with the same vision we had on 3 Feet High and
At the May 1 Summer Sendoff gig, De La Soul played for two hours. The
set touched on De La Soul staples, including "Buddy"
(RealAudio excerpt), "Me Myself and I," "Ring Ring Ring (Ha Ha Hey),"
"Stakes Is High," "Ego Trippin' (Part Two)," "A Roller Skating Jam Named
'Saturdays,' " "Breakadawn"
(RealAudio excerpt) and "Potholes in My Lawn." Talib Kweli of Black Star
showed up to freestyle with the trio.
Playing to a crowd of 1,500, the trio tried to involve fans in the show.
They encouraged those in the front to sit on the edge of the stage, and
by the end of the show, about 30 fans were dancing onstage while De La
Soul performed "The Magic Number."
"They are one of my favorite bands, and as expected they blew me away,"
Kenyon student Drew Solar said.
"It really topped off the day after getting a chance to perform in my
own band," said Shang Parker, a student whose rap band, Fishbowl Funk,
played earlier in the day.
De La Soul hung out on campus after the show, partying with students.
"At the end of the day," Posdnuos said, "I just hope that people who
meet us say that we are just decent individuals, beyond De La Soul."