De La Soul Go Bionic, Write Ode To Ladies' 'Hug Muscles'

Rappers ready release of AOI: Bionix, which features Slick Rick, B-Real, others.

MCs are sort of like pro football players — the career span of most isn't expected to be long. Toward that six or seven-year mark, signs of aging start to show and skills diminish.

With a 12-year tenure in the rap game, though, not only can De La Soul boast that they've beaten the odds, but according to group member Posdnuos, their next album, AOI: Bionix (the second in their Art Official Intelligence series), sounds like the trio sipped from the fountain of youth.

"Personally, I know I'm better than what I was," he said last Tuesday. "Certain parts of my early years, creativity meant more than just sharp rhymes. You could just kinda disguise where you lacked by just putting something creative in pocket with a concept. On an MC level, I would rate myself like a seven, and I feel I can get better.

"That's why we subtitled this particular album Bionix — we're trying to play off the whole 'Six Million Dollar Man' joint," he said. "We're just trying to be bigger, better and faster than what we were doing. We're still pretty much in the same vein of what we were doing in the last album, but this album to me is better."

"Baby Phat," featuring Devin the Dude, is the first release off the album, which is due December 4.

" 'Baby Phat' is just a dedication to the large percentage of women in the world who do not get picked to be in videos," he said of the track, which should be released in the next couple of weeks. "They are the everyday real women you talk to. They're doing their thing, they're out here and they got the little inches on the side, the hug muscles.

"That's just the reality, everybody ain't some skinny little anorexic girl in the video," he added. "A brother be talking to his girl and he says, 'Yo baby it ain't like that, it's just a little baby phat, that's all.' "

In addition to Devin, the Grammy and MTV Video Music Award-nominated group has guest spots from Cypress Hill's B-Real, on "Peer Pressure"; the Goodie Mob's Cee-Lo, on "Held Down"; Latin singer Pariquo Fernandez, on "Watch Out"; and one of the album's main beat contributors, Dave West, on "Simply." Slick Rick joins in on the playful tale of chasing the opposite sex, "It's What We Do (For Love)."

"We always wanted to do a joint with the brother. We're fans of hip-hop, so how could we not be fans of Rick?" Pos said. "The track itself has trumpets and harpsichords and was brought to us by Megahertz. I told [De La Soul member] Dave, 'This is really reminiscent of a song you would hear Rick do. We should grab him up.' "

Besides West, the group itself handled most of the production on the LP, which includes the songs "Pawn Star," "Watch Out," "Special," "Am I Worth You," "Trying" and the title track.

De La, who toured last year with Common, Biz Markie, Pharoahe Monch, Hi-Tek, and Talib Kweli, will be rehashing the outing in support of their album starting on October 19 in South Hadley, Massachusetts, and ending November 21 in New York. While their spokesperson said all the dates have been confirmed, some of the venues and cities have yet to be solidified.

"What we're doing right now with it, instead of putting all of us combined on it, we're breaking it up into little series," Pos said. " 'Spitkicker Presents the De La Soul Bionix tour.' We're going to do our dates and follow right up into the early part of the year going into the [Talib] Kweli new album. 'Spitckicker Presents Talib Kweli' and Pharoahe Monch will be with him. Then go into next summer as a whole full-fledged tour, with new people added and people that were down from the beginning."

Spitkicker Tour dates, according to De La Soul's spokesperson:

  • 10/19 - South Hadley, MA @ Mt. Holyoke College

  • 10/27 - Detroit, MI @ Majestic Theater

  • 10/29 - Minneapolis, MN @ First Avenue

  • 10/30 - Lawrence, KS @ The Granada

  • 11/4 - Anaheim, CA @ The House of Blues

  • 11/5 - West Hollywood, CA @ The House of Blues

  • 11/6 - San Diego, CA @ Belly Up

  • 11/8 - Phoenix, AZ @ Celebrity Theater

  • 11/9 - Las Vegas, NV @ The Rialto

  • 11/10 - Albuquerque, NM @ Sunshine Theater

  • 11/11 - Denver, CO @ The Fillmore

  • 11/14 - Dallas, TX @ Gypsy Tea Room

  • 11/15 - Austin, TX @ Stubbs

  • 11/17 - New Orleans, LA @ The House of Blues

  • 11/18 - Atlanta, GA @ The Tabernacle

  • 11/20 - Washington, DC @ The Nation

  • 11/21 - New York, NY @ Hammerstein Ballroom