As their UK tour gets under way, rap trio De La Soul appear to be full of a new creative confidence. Duncan Seaman reports.
When De Le Soul launched a Kickstarter campaign via the internet to raise funds to record their eighth album little did the long-serving rap trio expect to exceed their target of $110,000 within hours.
Yet such is the fund of goodwill that the group from Long Island, New York have built up with fans in the intervening years since they released the hip-hop classic 3 Feet High and Rising back in 1989, they were eventually gifted six times the intended amount.
The windfall allowed the trio of Maseo (real name Vincent Mason), Posdnous (Kelvin Mercer) and Dave (Jolicoeur) to make the most ambitious record of their career, that largely dispensed with samples from other people’s tracks and instead involved jam sessions with live musicians. They dubbed it De La Soul and the Anonymous Nobody.
As a string of British gigs – that include Leeds – approach, Jolicoeur sounds pleased with their good fortune.
“It was a big surprise,” he says. “The first surprise is raising the initial target in the first eight hours. I think we felt like we had fans out there obviously; we didn’t know how far us promoting or just trying to get the word that we were doing this Kickstarter out there would go, all we could think is ‘As long as it gets out there we’ll reach the goal’. But for it to reach the goal within the first eight hours and just continue – maybe within the first week we were at $300,000 or $400,000 – was crazy.
“I think part of it was our fans but also a big part of the Kickstarter community felt like our idea, our dream, our project was something that was worth investing in. It had some real legs and was something cool, something interesting, something new, something impressive.”
Raising $600,000 seems to have imbued the group with creative confidence. “I think it gave us a feeling of ‘Well, we could do whatever we want’,” says Jolicoeur.
It felt good not being policed... We just had a great time recording