You Know I Got Soul: De La Soul

It would seem like a no brainer to feature De La Soul in an edition of You Know I Got Soul considering “soul” is in their name. The legendary Hip-Hop group has been a part of our audio experience for over two decades. With untouchable punchlines coupled with smooth vibes, De La Soul has not […]

It would seem like a no brainer to feature De La Soul in an edition of You Know I Got Soul considering “soul” is in their name. The legendary Hip-Hop group has been a part of our audio experience for over two decades. With untouchable punchlines coupled with smooth vibes, De La Soul has not only mastered Hip-Hop music, but they have enhanced it. Now the crew is out to take on a brand new charge – athletics. Earlier this year, De La joined forces with Nike on their NIKE + campaign, which matches sports with rap in a way that’s never been done before – or at least unintentionally. Artists make music designed for the sport. While De La Soul was busy crafting sounds for the runners (the athletes not the production duo), we caught up with them for their individual Top 5 for taking it down a notch and breaking away from the rap. Check out how many of their favorites are the same; it’s no wonder how they’ve worked so well together for so long.


1. Coldplay

I like the writing. I think the first time I probably heard

Coldplay was when “Yellow” was in a movie soundtrack. So I found out what that

was and said let me look this up and see who these guys are. Then I found that

album, Parachutes, and was hooked since

then. I just like the writing a lot. I like the fact that Parachutes sounded more like it was piano written, piano-based

songs. Then the album that followed [Viva La Vida] was different. They started writing songs, you

know, maybe on a guitar. I think the writing is incredible to me and the songs

are just like deep but not deep where it’s like far gone and spacey. It’s

just…cool tunes.Clocks – Coldplay


2. Fela Kuti

Every time I hear a song I just riddle myself with that one

question like “Did James Brown get his style from Fela? Did he like catch the

funk vibe from Fela or did Fela catch the funk vibe from James?” I know a

couple of engineers who worked with Fela and they’ve often said that Fela spoke

of James borrowing the style or hearing him first. So when I listen to his

music, I just sit there and kind of listen to the contrast of what James was

doing and what Fela was doing and try to figure out you know one of those what

came first the egg or the chicken. So that’s what I sit down and enjoy with

Fela, outside of just loving the music and the sound and how he arranged the



3. Devo

Devo reminds me of the De La and the Ultramagnetics of their

style, their genre, which ever way you want to put them. They’re just one of

those groups that you can’t really place a finger on. Whatever you want to name

them…call them Hardcore. You know, whatever you want to call them. They always

just stood out and had their own style and sound and obviously a look to it and

an attitude to it. I think it’s one of those bands that got not only some great

quirky sometimes weird tunes together but they also brought an attitude that

made you want to believe in it as well. They lived the sound of their music as

well. When you saw them it was always quirky, always different, always kind of

interesting. Whip It – DeVo – Devo


4. The Police

I love The Police. I love Sting’s voice. I like how they

often had that Reggae influence. Whether it was Ska or some Rock in there, they

always had that kind of like Reggae feel to it. Obviously being from the UK and

getting that Jamaican culture vibe in their music was probably something they

naturally grew up with so I just enjoy the tunes. Always great records. I love

Sting as a solo artist as well, but The Police have always had great joints.Every Breath You Take – The Police


5. Aretha Franklin/Chaka Khan (TIE)

Good tunes. Amazing voices. Their influence on Hip-Hop as

well. A lot of people don’t know people have sampled Aretha Franklin and

obviously sampled Chaka Khan. For me my greatest Aretha Franklin tune is

probably “Bridge Over Troubled Waters”. I just love how that record sounds…her

voice, the organs and just the background singers as well. Just one of the

greatest tunes…not as popular as Respect or Pink Cadillac, “Bridge Over

Troubled Waters” is I guess like a Gospel tune as well. When I want to feel

good I put that tune on. So Aretha Franklin, Chaka Khan…two greats. Two great

women divas in the soul R&B category.All Good – De La Soul feat. Chaka Khan


1. Stevie Wonder

Just growing up and listening to his music…being young and

not realizing who [Stevie] is or hearing my father playing his earlier music.

Then of course growing up and getting older and hearing certain albums like Songs

in the Key of Life…that album was just an

incredible album to me. Every song resonated with me. So I mean from there

anything that he pretty much did, a lot of the different music he did…it’s just

timeless…stuff that I could relate to now but even then. I mean as a child for

me to be a kid and someone’s relating to me, it felt good. Stevie Wonder – Superstition – Stevie Wonder


2. The Police

I always loved Sting’s voice. Once again being young and I’m

like wow these white boys are doing this incredible Reggae Ska-ish type stuff,

you know a lot of their early stuff. So it was cool and continuing to…well now

continuing to just grow and release music it’s just so good. I mean “Voices

Inside My Head” was just one of the most amazing records. I remember being

young and WBLS in New York playing it all the time and it was just this song.

What actually blew me away about that song was it really wasn’t any words. It

was just more like them just chanting “voices inside my head” but the music and

the groove and the beat was catchy. So I mean like that was just another reason

to move me to them and then I just became a straight fan and whenever I hear

they’re coming out with something I always look forward to hearing it. The Police – Voices Inside My Head


3. Earth Wind and Fire

One of the most amazing bands personally for me…just

soulfully from Phillip Bailey to Maurice White to just the incredible brass

section. I mean when I was younger I used to try to play a little trombone so

that lead me to just even relate to them more and the sound that they had.

Honestly what they were talking about even for me to realize then like it

wasn’t always about partying or love. They would go as far to talk about the

sun or just different things…terrestrial versions of things. It was just cool

and their covers were just so amazing…the pyramid and all those great things

like that. Funny enough for us to be in De La Soul now and when we came out and

those are the things you realize from behind the scenes that labels paid

attention to like you know are they going to relate to your record cover, this

that and the third. Now to just think like yeah when I was young those are some

of the things that I’d probably just listen to the music and I could just

glance at the cover and stare and find different things for days. Earth, Wind & Fire – September – Earth, Wind & Fire


4. Coldplay

I really love their last album and just even once again when

they were introduced to the scene and getting more into them, it just felt good

to hear their music. Especially as you said we are Hip-Hop artists and I think

De La Soul has always been very much into using and gaining inspiration from

other groups outside of Hip-Hop to bring that into what we’re working with. So

I mean for me, Coldplay is kind of the up-to-date version of that. Being able

to listen to a lot of the groups back in the day and being like wow this is

what I’m going to take inspiration from for this song. Coldplay to me in

arrangements and what they’re talking about in the music…it draws the same for

me.Viva La Vida – Coldplay


5. Billy Joel

Once again it was just to have something standout as he was

just a great songwriter. Hearing the songs that he’s writing about, him at the

piano, a lot of times when it’s not even so much a lot of other instruments

around him…some of the most incredible songs have just sent chills through my

spine just listening to the words and how he manipulates words to use in the

story he’s telling and I definitely as a emcee try to do the same. We Didnt Start The Fire – Billy Joel – Billy Joel


1. Ozomatli

They’re just a really great, great soulful Latin band. I

can’t even really say they’re all just Latin. They really do a wide scope of

different styles and they’re just very soulful. It touches you. Something about

the musicians in the band as a collective when they rock together whether they

perform or make records together, it touches me. It just touches my spirit.

Whether I understand it, whether the music is in English or not, Ozomatli is

just incredible. They’re really incredible. I was first introduced to them when

Common did a song with them. That was the first time I was really introduced

and then you know the album around that time and that’s what made me really get

into them. Cant Stop – Ozomatli


2. Curtis Mayfield & 3. Donny Hathaway

I really been listening to a lot of his [Curtis’] music

lately. Both of them have really been speaking to my spirit. Some difficult

times I been going through and their music really is timeless…I can just

totally relate to a lot of it. Especially the things Curtis Mayfield’s talking

about because a lot of my family overall comes from a lot of those rough

conditions. In the last two years I been reaching out to my family, beyond like

my first cousins, and we all been connecting on many different levels and we

all been reminiscing of our childhood. So Curtis Mayfield’s music is like the

soundtrack to our lives. And recent discussions between me and one of my

cousins keep resorting back to like Curtis Mayfield music that was around our

lives at that time. I also been really like into discovering what different

artists sampled that I didn’t even know came from Curtis. Curtis Mayfield – Superfly – Curtis Mayfield


4. Spam Allstars

They’re like a funk-soul-Latin band. Kind of in the Fela

Kuti vibe. They’re kind of on that vibe. They’re really new; they’re out of Del

Ray Beach, Florida. Their music is on iTunes and it’s really hot to me. I saw

them at this little club in Florida. I like to go to these little cool-out

spots that kind of remind me of like The Apartment…of APT [in New York City].

You always bound to come up on some new, fresh talent…or something new and

fresh period. It happened that [Spam Allstars] happened to be showcased in

there one night and I was into it. I came back to the crib and I realized their

music was on iTunes and I bought an album. It’s bangin! I still search for

music you know? True essence of a DJ.


I got to find out what’s making me feel good and try to

incorporate it in my style of DJing. But Spam Allstars, check them out. For

real. I don’t even know these guys. On some real s**t, they didn’t even know I

was in the spot. I just happened to be there on some incognito tip and just

tried to be a regular spectator and I came up on some good s###. I didn’t go up

to them like “yo, I’m Maseo”, none of that crap…I ain’t do none of that. I went

back to the crib and was like alright, let me check them out online and see

what it is. That’s really what it is because the show was hot! Ochimini – Spam AllStars


5. Stevie Wonder

An inspiration to our lives. A man within a vision…he was

seeing beyond what we all could see. The timeless music he’s made like…he just

keep popping up on my playlist constantly. You see Stevie in the current days

or recent days and he’s sounding fresh and he’s sounding current and to go back

and listen to the old material, it’s refreshing…it’s all still relevant, it’s all

still brand new. All of that coming from a person who’s been blind their entire

life. You seeing the world from inside. Think about the s**t he’s singing

about. Look at it…you can actually picture the words he’s saying and that’s

coming from someone who doesn’t have any sight. My kids dig Stevie Wonder. My

daughter’s eight and it’s not because her dad’s in music or nothing like that…it’s

all on her own discovery. Hearing songs like “Do I Do” because she’s just kind

of hanging out with her grandmother. Stevie Wonder – Sir Duke – Stevie Wonder