The trailer for the new De La Soul documentary De La Soul Is Not Dead debuted online today (Aug. 29) and the film could go a long way towards further illuminating the legacy of one of hip-hop’s most innovative and legendary acts.
Emerging out of Amityville, Long Island, N.Y. in the late 80s, De La Soul broke ground with their quirky brand of left field-hip-hop; and alongside A Tribe Called Quest and the Jungle Brothers, made the Native Tongues one of the most highly-regarded collectives in hip-hop. They would release critically-acclaimed albums throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, before taking an extended hiatus following 2005s The Grind Date. De La released And the Anonymous Nobody last week; it’s their first album in 11 years and was entirely crowdfunded.
According to Mass Appeal, the documentary will not only explore De La’s musical significance, but also the sampling laws that have kept the group from releasing it’s venerated catalog on streaming services like Spotify and Tidal.
“My understanding is that due to allegedly uncleared samples, Warners has been uncomfortable or unwilling to license a lot of the De La Soul stuff,” said Deborah Mannis-Gardner, a sample-clearance agent who has worked with De La Soul. “It becomes difficult opening these cans of worms — were things possibly cleared with a handshake?”
Mass Appeal’s Rob Kenner said that this was a major factor in wanting to make the doc.
“Due to this blackout, the current generation of hip hop fans may not fully appreciate their genius,” explains Kenner. “And so we’re hoping this documentary helps fill in some those holes.”
De La Soul Is Not Dead debuts September 7th. The project comes on the heels of some critically-acclaimed hip-hop docs that have been released in recent years; like Beats Rhymes and Life, Time Is Illmatic and The Art of Organized Noize.
Check out the trailer in the video above; and you can stream De La Soul’s and the Anonymous Nobody below. Purchase it on iTunes here.