Today is March 3rd, 2023.
Finally, De La Soul’s back catalogue has been released on all digital platforms.
I’ve been waiting for this moment…I don’t even know how long.
I just know that digital streaming felt strange.
At least for this hip hop head.
I’d go onto Spotify, but I couldn’t stream most of my favourite De La Soul songs.
Doesn’t really matter. Some legal bullshit.
3 Feet High and Rising
De La Soul is Dead
Stakes is High
Art Official Intelligence: Mosaic Thump
Art Official Intelligence: Bionix
That’s a heap of goodness, totally absent on Spotify and other digital streaming platforms.
But De La Soul had been working tirelessly to negotiate a way to get their work onto the steaming platforms.
And they succeeded.
The date was set.
March 3rd, 2023.
Today is the day and it feels bittersweet.
February 12th 2023 I had another restless night of sleep. Tossing and turning. I reached for my mobile phone. I went onto Facebook to check my feed.
I see someone writing this massive essay about De La Soul.
De La Soul deserve dissertations and thesis’ dedicated to dissecting and celebrating their genius.
I went back to bed. Tossed and turned some more.
Woke up again, returned to Facebook.
Now I’m seeing my feed saturated with posts about De La Soul, with a special focus on Dave aka Plug 2 of De La Soul had passed away aged 54.
I sobbed in bed. I had to mute my grief as I didn’t want to wake anyone up where I was staying.
I may have been manufactured England, but the craftsmanship is Pakistani.
My people grieve hard. Without reservation. Muting my grief was fucked. There’s something there…this is not the time or place for that. But that wasn’t innocuous. I’m gonna nip my ADHD in the bud and get back to the topic at hand…
The news hurt. I saw friends of mine, grown men in their 50s mourning. Another musical hero. Gone. Aged 54! That’s too young. Too young.
The next few days I had to go onto my iPhone where I saved all of De La Soul’s songs and revisited EVERYTHING.
A rush of thoughts, emotions and inspiration flooded my senses. Heart, mind, body, soul, ALL engaged.
1998-2000 was an important time in my life.
I’d always loved music, but this was the time when I went in hard. I’d gotten into hip hop in 1998 and for those two years I snapped up so many albums.
No streaming, no iTunes.
I’d go to HMV, log onto Amazon (in the very early years) and pick up everything I could.
3 Feet High and Rising
De La Soul is Dead
Stakes is High
These four albums got me through college.
College was hard (final two years of high school for my American cousins).
I was 17 and I’d returned to London after spending 5 years in Pakistan.
I grew up in the 1980s under Margaret Thatcher and Norman Tebbett. 1980s Britain was racist as fuck.
My mum took me out of school in 1993 and took me to Pakistan. I left while John Major was the Prime Minister.
1998 I came back to the UK 1 year into New Labour.
I decided to go to college instead of a sixth form.
I wanted more freedom and that’s what I got at college.
But it was hard a tricky time. I was still 22 years away from being diagnosed with ADHD and autism. I was experiencing constant social and academic challenges and had no idea why I kept fucking things up.
I was smart, had a relatively kind heart, but yeah, things always went sideways. Always.
Hip hop was a sanctuary in this time. And within that, two groups stood out for me:
A Tribe Called Quest
De La Soul
De La Soul appealed for so many reasons.
I loved how unapologetically themselves they were. It would take me another 22 years at least to get that comfortable in my skin. But I know that De La Soul planted some of those seeds that allowed me to blossom into myself.
They modelled the best behaviour for me.
Provided me with a map.
I’m a romantic and an idealist.
I remember listening to Eye Know from De La Soul back in college.
This is Dave aka Plug 2’s verse:
May I cut this dance to introduce myself
As the chosen one for speak?
Let me lay my hand across yours
And aim a kiss upon your cheek
The name’s Plug Two (is Plug Two)
And from the soul, I bring you
The daisy of your choice
May it be filled with the pleasure principle
In circumference to my voice
About those other Jennys I reckoned with
Lost them all like a homework excuse
This time the magic number is two
‘Cause it takes two, not three, to seduce
My destiny of love is brought to an apex
Sex is a mere molecule
In this world of lust that I have for you
I know I’ll love you better
I was floored.
Now I love blowing out backs as much as the next man. But love, that’s…love is…I love love (shout out Metaphorest).
I’ve never heard love expressed in such an innocent and tender way. I was 17 when I heard these rhymes, and I’m gonna be 42 soon and these rhymes still make my heart flutter.
I don’t need to quote anymore lyrics by Dave aka Trugoy aka Plug 2.
You know everything you need to know about his skill and his heart from those lyrics.
Altho, I’d say also listen to “Trying People” on De La Soul’s album Bionix.
Dave’s verses on their always made me cry even when he was alive.
Now…those verses are unlocking so many layers of unexpressed grief.
- The loss of a close friend and my closest uncle to Covid
- Navigating fatherhood from a distance
- Finally making sense of my brain (Autism and ADHD)
There’s more, but…
Dave was the heart of De La Soul.
He worked with my brother Ty who so many people miss.
De La Soul’s music was honest, sincere and at times fucking weird.
I’m coming up to my 42 birthday and I realise that for most of that time I’ve masked myself. Suppressed it.
Who knows how long I have left.
“Tomorrow’s not promised for none of us” Ty – I’m Leaving
I want to be:
- Fucking weird
Dave aka Trugoy aka Plug 2 and De La Soul’s work left me with a blueprint for this.
Today is bittersweet.
But I’ve been up since 5am and writing furiously while the birds cheep and…despite the bittersweet feelings and grief (re)surfacing…I’m good ya know?
I am up and I’m looking forward to today and to the rest of my life.
I’m living a life infused with passion and love.
De La Soul played a huge role in that.
They will continue to be a huge part of the soundtrack of my life.
Dave aka Trugoy aka Plug 2 – September 21, 1968 – February 12, 2023.
Thank you for your generosity.
Thank you for sharing your heart with us.
Thank you for modelling a form of masculinity I could get with.
Rest easy sir and look after Ty. Remind him how loved he is.