De La Soul Preserve Old-School Vibe With New Trilogy

Guests include Chaka Khan and Beastie Boys' Adam Horowitz, Mike Diamond.

NEW YORK — Rapper Posdnous of De la Soul said last week the veteran group wanted to preserve an old-school vibe in making the first volume of its planned three-album trilogy, Art Official Intelligence.

The group, he said, plans to take that vibe on the road this summer on a superstar minitour including fellow progressive acts Reflection Eternal, Common, Pharoahe Monch and Biz Markie.

"We were just trying to have fun," Posdnous (born Kelvin Mercer), 30, said at a listening party for the new album at Manhattan's Bond Street Lounge. The first Art Official Intelligence CD is due July 18.

The album draws heavily from the old-school drum machine sounds of the late '80s and on the grooves of '70s soul. Ex-Rufus singer Chaka Khan even sings on "All Good." Adam Horowitz and Mike Diamond of the Beastie Boys guest on the stripped down "Squat," which would not be out of place on the Beastie Boys' 1987 album, Licensed To Ill, or on De La Soul's 1989 effort, 3 Feet High and Rising.

"We love what they do. We asked them to do the song, and they was with it," Posdnous said of the collaboration with the Beastie Boys. Other guests include rapper Redman, who appears on "Oooh!" (RealAudio excerpt).

Posdnous said the group originally proposed a triple-album to Tommy Boy last year. But he said the label thought it would be better to release three different albums rather than a three-CD set. The rapper said the group already has written 10 songs for the second album and will continue to record off and on until the end of the third record.

The rapper said he sees a renewed spirit in hip-hop — younger guys pushing the envelope musically and politically. De la Soul gained an audience initially for their humor and knack for musical experimentation.

Talib Kweli of Reflection Eternal, which will release an album this summer, said recently that being progressive is a necessity.

"There's people in the hip-hop generation who may or may not be [socially or culturally] active," Kweli said. "People who claim to care about hip-hop culture need to hold everybody responsible."

Posdnous, Common, Kweli and Pharoahe Monch all appear on the all-star protest single "One Four Love Pt. 1," recorded in response to the shooting of unarmed African immigrant Amadou Diallo by four police officers in the Bronx last year. The single comes out Tuesday, along with the compilation EP Hip Hop for Respect.