De La Soul have unveiled their latest documentary, De La Soul is Not Dead: the Documentary. Spanning their career, the film comes 25 years after the rap trio released its sophomore album, De La Soul is Dead.
Produced by Mass Appeal, the film traces their origins. It launches with a visit to Amityville Memorial High School in their Long Island hometown where Posdnuos, Trugoy the Dove (aka Dave) and Pasemaster Mase, along with producer Prince Paul, met and the group formed in the 1980s.
"It was perfect," Prince Paul says in the clip. "It was like an act of God, almost. We were meant to be at the same place, at the same time, with the same thoughts." The self-described nerd says he bonded with the "ultra nerdy" trio who were different than what was fashionable in hip-hop at the time.
Alongside showcasing how influential the group has been throughout their career, the film features new interviews with the crew along with executives from their original label Tommy Boy Records. The new interviews are interspersed with early footage chronicling the group's career, such as original audio from an early demo of "Plug Tunin'" that's followed by audio of how the song evolved during production, giving a peek into the creative process.
The doc also addresses the role of sampling in their music and the legalities that followed, the group's trepidation over the "new hippies" branding and flower imagery that accompanied their early marketing and how that led to a reset when they worked on De La Soul is Dead. It continues on through to the pressure of Stakes is High and their latest work.
De La Soul released its long-awaited, crowd-funded album, And the Anonymous Nobody in August, which they discussed in the documentary as well. Raising some $600,000 from thousands of donors, they say it gave them freedom to create an album their way. "This album was definitely not the norm for us," Dave says. It includes songs that go on for more than five minutes and don't feature lyrics until the end of the tune.
"At the end of the day, those 11,000 people are, like – you know, they saved our lives," Dave contends. "They kind of gave us this boost in confidence to say, 'Yeah, you guys are still wanted out there and you still can do this.'"
De La Soul previously unveiled another documentary on the creation of And the Anonymous Nobody called We're Still Here (now) … a documentary about nobody. It was released last month in conjunction with their new album.