Denver fans explain why De La Soul still matters
De La Soul, the iconic Long Island hip-hop trio, performed last Saturday to a capacity crowd at Cervantes' Masterpiece Ballroom. It was "nuts-to-butts crowded," as my Tennessee friends like to say. Consider now the fact that the group hasn't released a proper album in five years (2009's obscure Are You In?: Nike+ Original Run), and that 3 Feet High and Rising is now 25 years old, and the very idea that they can still pack venues like Cervantes' makes De La's staying power all the more impressive.
This had us wondering: what makes De La still such a big draw, at a time when their contemporaries have long since disappeared? We decided to take the question to the crowd at last weekend's show. Here's what we found.
Fans at the De La Soul show (not Ethan). Photo by Eric Gruneisen
They came out during a movement. Preceded Tribe Called Quest. That's heavy, man. They are an institution. De La was a separate entity from what was going on in the rap world. It didn't matter to them.
They cater to people. They're very likable. They're in the same family as Tribe Called Quest. It's very positive -- not all guns and shit. They're like Mobb Deep... very jazzy. Also I'm from Long Island, so De La ties me to where I'm from.
More De La Soul fans. Photo by Eric Gruneisen
Oh it's the history. People understand that. They want to see a band with history. I do construction, and I work with these guys who don't even know who they are. I ask if they know that album, with the guys' faces and the yellow, and they're like, "no, I've never seen it." "Me, Myself and I" made it into popular culture, but it was also in movies.
Photo by Eric Gruneisen
[Guy from Alaska who didn't give his name], 25
Most people listen to commercial-based hip-hop. De La gets no radio play. They have a consciousness element. They're more repressed in the hip hop world, because they have a positive vibe. They don't rap about molly. When I'm down, their music brings me up. I wasn't even born when 3 Feet High and Rising came out.
I'm a crate digger. I find the influences of my influence. Like Lyrics Born -- you look at his shout-outs, and start from there.