De La Soul Gave Their Secret To Not Sounding Dated On ‘and the Anonymous Nobody’


De La Soul’s first album, 3 Feet High and Rising, dropped back in 1988. Fast foward to 2016, and the Long Island natives are set to release their eighth studio album this Friday (Aug. 27) titled and the Anonymous Nobody.

READ: De La Soul & Usher Take Rap Back To The Essence On “Greyhounds

After turning to Kickstarter to fund their forthcoming Anonymous Nobody LP, De La raised over $600,000, after asking for only $110,000. “We thought 30 days was a good amount of time to raise some money, so we were like, ‘let’s go for 33 to make sure we get it,’ says De La’s Dave.

“$110,000 is a lot of money to ask for to begin with,” he continues. “We were uncomfortable with asking. It had more to do with not being supervised, or feeling enslaved, or feeling like we have to share our artistic values with anyone but ourselves, or feeling like someone is going to come stick their hands all in this. We can’t do it no other way than this, this is what we do.”

READ: De La Soul Resume Their Reign Over Hip-Hop While Rocking “Royalty Capes”

And while the trio only asked for $110,000 it still cost over a million dollars to make the album. And boy, the money was a well spent. With appearances from the likes of Snoop Dogg, 2 Chainz, Little Dragon, Usher, David Bryne, of Talking Heads, among others, Anonymous Nobody is a mesh of classic hip-hop, pop, jazz and rock. With 17-tracks, the album offers encouragement, and it’s packed with themes of moral consciousness. But what’s most impressive about Anonymous Nobody is that it doesn’t sound dated.

READ: De La Soul & ‘Angry Birds Action!’ Made Some Music For The Family

Last night (Aug. 23), De La Soul invited VIBE to the new Sonos store in Soho for a private listening of the new album as well as a brief Q&A with veteran hip hop journalist, Miss Info. One of the issues they discussed is how they’re able to spit moving rhymes without sounding as if they’re still trapped in the ‘80s and ‘90s.

On the many guest appearances of the album. 
Dave: This album that we made is of misfits. It isn’t supposed to be Common, Mos Def, Q-Tip. It’s supposed to be all over the place with people who challenge us. The people we named, those are our brothers. We can do records with them all day. But, it was like: “Yo, what if we do something with 2 Chainz?”  That’s the challenge of it all.

What they’re listening to.
Dave: We listen to everything. I think that we consider ourselves music lovers, fans, and students of what we do and what we enjoy– first, and foremost to keep us on our toes, you got to be a part of what’s going on in order to grow and find your way through that forest. You got so many brothers and sisters who come from our era who are so mad at what’s going on. They just totally refute what’s happening: “I’m not getting down with this, this is not hip-hop.” And they sound like they did back in 1988. It’s like there’s no growth there. You’re not learning. You’re not trying to understand or speak the language of the people. And, possibly make it your own. So, we’re listening to everything. I love what Big Sean does. I’m a fan of Kendrick Lamar as well. I can listen to a Rick Ross album as well as put on something Chance The Rapper did. You have to be that way if you really love music, because there’s something in everything that you can find interesting and something to love.

On the De La Soul stereotype.
Dave: You often think De La is supposed to be this group that only listens to conscious rappers but you can’t deny as much as whoever it may be wants to hate on a Rick Ross, hate to single him out, but some of these dudes rhyme. 2 Chainz, some of these dudes are really emcees and really get down and have verses. You got to respect anybody who can sit down and write a song, create a melody and has something that sticks in your mind and you’re constantly saying it over. But I’m not going to deny the fact that there’s some junk out there too.

De La Soul accepting N.W.A. early on.
Pos: We were the fist on that tour, and I’ll throw names out there—it was us, LL. PE, Too Short, N.W.A, Kane—a lot of the New York cats were not trying to embrace N.W.A., we front and center rocking with them. And as that tour went on everyone else jumped on it too. We say it to this day, those dudes, that show with N.W.A., made us. So, we was always open to music. As Dave said we grew up in this New York state where we not only listened to the Mister Magic and Red Alert, but we would go down to the college stations and listen. We was always about finding new music to listen to, and be the first to say: “I heard it.” There’s something beautiful in everything. You just have to look for it.

Why they don’t sound dated.
Pos: Being able to not get caught up in having this chip on our shoulders in what we’ve done and truly being open to be students, to learn. To sit there as a student I can still be in awe listening to Jada do what he does. And listen to Drake do what he does. It’s real. It’s not just saying this on the mic, and I think that plays a part of it. We’re not caught up in ’88. ’88 is gone. Not to sound like I’m bragging, but in ’88 we was thinking ahead. We weren’t dated in ’88, we were thinking on some futuristic shit then. So, we always looked ahead. That lends to lyrically how we sound, we don’t sound like some old-school shit.

Fans can pre-order and the Anonymous Nobody over at iTunes.