Saturday, May 16, 2009

De La Soul back in the game

Stuff, printed in the Herald, TV3

Hip-hop group De La Soul are heading to New Zealand to celebrate their 20-year career, and hope to get to know the New Zealand culture while they are at it. Stacey Knott chat to rapper Trugoy the Dove.

American hip-hop group De La Soul are coming to New Zealand to celebrate their "20 years in the game", says group member David Jolicoeur, aka Trugoy the Dove.

The New York-based rap trio will be doing their most comprehensive New Zealand tour to date next month, taking their positive-message hip-hop to Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Wanaka.

The group, made up of Kelvin Mercer, aka Posdnuos, Vincent Mason, aka Pasemaster Mase, and Jolicoeur released their debut, ground-breaking album 3 Feet High and Rising in 1989.

Jolicoeur says this tour will reflect what the group has accomplished over their career to date, and they will be playing tracks from their 20-year catalogue.

After the release of De La Soul's first album, critics said the trio's style was a move away from the more negative "gangsta rap" of the time, and would mark a new way for hip-hop.

De La Soul's career highlights centred on working with their musical heroes, such as fellow New York group The Beastie Boys, and Gorillaz.

"The highlights are the relationships and working with people we admire ... we record with people we share ideals with," Jolicoeur says.

However, subject matter has changed as the group has aged. Themes like family and marriage now come through the music, but Jolicoeur says the important thing is that band members keep true to themselves in their music.

The tour also marks 20 years since De La Soul were sued for copyright breach in what became a landmark lawsuit in the United States.

De La Soul were found guilty of sampling music from 1960s pop group The Turtles for their single Me Myself and I. The case changed hip-hop music, as it meant all samples had to be legally cleared before an album could be released.

"We lost a lot of the creativity that is the sampling thing, it's a part of what hip-hop is ," Jolicoeur says.

The change in law also meant De La soul's second album, De La Soul is Dead, was delayed in release so the samples could be cleared.

However, with the band's typically positive outlook, Jolicoeur says De La Soul hold no grudges over the case. They supported copyright laws after the lawsuit, and artists should "deal with it", he says.

"There should be laws to protect artists. We don't know how they feel about it, it could be a song for their child or family ... we respect the laws, and have to play the game accordingly."

He says hip-hop is everything to the group, which reflects why they have lasted so long. "We live it, it's the thing we feel."

Jolicoeur is constantly writing and rapping, even if he has no intention of releasing his works.

"I have tons and tons of stuff that will never get out."

>While De La Soul have toured New Zealand before, most recently in 2006, this time they hope to see a bit more of the country.

"We have a day off. We would love to see the place, there is so much to see other than clubs - there is the beaches, and ... cultural things."

The group are interested in different societies and cultures, and hope to finally get a taste of New Zealand's.

"We always meet people from New Zealand, they know our culture, we want to get to know theirs."

Tour dates:

May 12 Wellington, San Francisco Bathouse
May 13 Wanaka, Lake Wanaka Centre
May 14 Christchurch The Bedford
May 15 Auckland, The Powerstation