When famous rap trio De La Soul’s David “Trugoy the Dove” Jolicoeur died last month, fans who wanted to listen to their songs on music streaming platforms would have been unable to do so owing to legal and copyright difficulties.
Nonetheless, De La Soul’s first six albums, which run from 1989 to 2001, were ultimately released on Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal, and other music platforms on Friday.
De La Soul’s digital debut is the conclusion of a decades-long struggle with copyright restrictions and several companies, including the group’s first, Tommy Boy Records. Reservoir Media purchased the Tommy Boy music archive in 2021, paving the way for the band to appear on streaming services.
“Our first contact was to De La Soul,” Reservoir CEO Faith Newman stated after the purchase. “We promised to bring their music to streaming, and it means everything to our team to keep that promise and introduce a whole new generation of fans to one of hip-most hop’s essential libraries.”
After graduating from high school together in Amityville, New York, Jolicoeur, Kelvin “Posdnuos” Mercer, and Vincent “Pasemaster Mase” Mason founded the pioneering group in 1988.
Their first album, “3 Foot High and Rising,” released in 1989, is generally regarded for its groundbreaking, sample-heavy conceptual sound, and included the single “Me, Myself, and I,” which lasted 17 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 list.
The sampling talent of De La Soul made digitising their discography a massive effort, since samples previously approved for usage on vinyl, cassettes, and CDs had to be recreated for streaming.
The group’s work’s intricacy was not the only factor preventing it from adopting the digital media. Throughout the previous two decades, ownership of their music collection has changed hands multiple times, and Mercer, Mason, and Jolicoeur have been vocal about difficulties with the terms of their Tommy Boy deal.
Yet, the death of Jolicoeur has made the other members’ achievement bittersweet. Mason said on Instagram last week in a touching tribute to Jolicoeur, “I’m incredibly sorry that you’re not here to celebrate and appreciate what we worked and battled so hard to accomplish.”
Mason pledges he and Mercer “will make sure your legacy is carefully maintained. ‘We Are De La Soul’ for life and beyond, but it will never be the same.”
De La Soul was nominated for six Grammy Awards over their career, winning one for best pop collaboration with vocals for the Gorillaz song “Feel Good Inc.” in 2006.
“3 Foot High and Rising” was added to the National Recording Registry, a permanent repository of sound recordings deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically important,” by the Library of Congress in 2010. Just 13 “Rap/Hip-Hop” recordings are included in the register.
Another song from “3 Feet High and Rising,” “The Miracle Number,” was included as the end-credit music in “Spider-Man: No Way Home” in 2021.
“We’ve been incredibly resilient, despite being a group that didn’t have our songs available [on streaming sites]. “We still had these lovely chances because young people discovered us via a commercial or Spider-Man,” Mercer is quoted as stating in Reservoir’s history of the band.
“Naturally, De La Soul has been that group for everyone,” Mercer remarked. “It was never about saying, ‘We’re only here for this community, that community, this group of individuals, or these specific hip-hop culture lovers.’ We view music as music.”