HipHopSite: Triple album, right? But it’s not all coming out together….
Maseo: Right, the other two will be released at the top of 2001. The second one in March, the third one around June or July.
HipHopSite: Are the other albums finished yet?
Maseo: No, they’re not finished yet.
Truguoy: The second one, we’ve got about 14 tracks done right now.
HipHopSite: The title for the first album of the set is “Art Official Intelligence: Mosaic Thump”. Can you break that down for us?
Truguoy: Art Official Intelligence is basically a play on the words “artificial intelligence”, making it into three words. Just describing our mentality of our music and our careers, staying true to the art. Making our art, or music as officially De La as possible, and always injecting intelligence into it. “Mosaic Thump” is basically sums up how we have a lot of different artists on this album lending their art to what we’re doing. We’ve got old school on the record, bangin’ on the table like back in the days… a lot of elements of what hip-hop is, and we put those together as like a mosaic piece and it’s just a record that thumps. So, putting those two words together just describes the album, a Mosaic Thump.
(Pos walks in with dinner for everyone)
Maseo (to Pos): Smart man. Smart fucking man!
(At this point, Maseo is then pre-occupied for the rest of the interview)
HipHopSite: And who is on the guest list?
Truguoy: Redman, Xzibit, The Alkaholiks, Beastie Boys, Chaka Khan, Freddie Foxxx, D.V. Alias Khrist, Busy Bee, Phaorahe Monch, Black Thought, Phife Dawg…. It’s loaded.
HipHopSite: Of all of those collaborations, which one of them was your favorite, or who did you enjoy working with the most?
Trugouy: Umm…. Favorite was probably Busy Bee. Also definite love for Busta, aside of just collaborating, we’re just good friends. Beastie Boys, we’ve bumped heads with them a number of times with the Tibetan Freedom Concert. D.V. Alias Khrist is like family, but being able to connect with Busy Buy, and relive something that made us rhyme, and seeing him perform just means a lot.
HipHopSite: How do these things come about, or how do you decide what artists you want on your record?
Truguoy: It’s not a planned thing at all, it’s just a vibe or a feeling. Busta has been on so many records, and it’s not like we were like “yo, let’s do what everyone else is doing”. It’s more like the song was fitting for him and we thought it would compliment what he does, and also what we do. The Beasties track was just a vibe that Pos had like, “yo, I feel them on this track”. We really don’t try to plan things like, “Okay on this album we are going to have these people”. We can do an album by ourselves and bring along a newcomer, that’s what we do, you know. The record company definitely pressured us to bring along that key artist that would bring this record to the next level. We made attempts for artists like Kelly Price or Mary J. Blige to be on the record, but it never happened because it just really wasn’t a natural vibe for De La. It’s more natural for us to bring an artist like D.V. Alias Khrist or Busy Bee.
HipHopSite: Have there been situations when you are collaborating with the artist, and it’s just like you are sitting there in a room, and there is an uncomfortable vibe, because you don’t really know them?
Truguoy: Yeah, I think the perfect example is when we did a song with Teenage Fanclub. We flew out to Glasgow, we didn’t know who the hell they were. No offense, but there’s like three black guys and four white guys in a room – they got instruments and we got a crate of records with us – we were like, “what are we going to do?” But the guys were cool, and we sat down and just did it. It is uncomfortable at times, and working with bigger artists like them or Chaka Khan, it’s like, who are we to direct them? Who are we to go into the studio and say, “nah Chaka, not that note”. That’s like the difficult part….
HipHopSite: Not to stay on the subject for too long, but this is uncommon for De La Soul to have this many guests on their album. Why this time?
Posdonous: Us making a triple album, we never really planned on throwing this many guests on one album. Even though the albums are split up, we view it as one album, and a lot of these songs just felt right for this album. It doesn’t take anything away from “Art Official Intelligence”, once you listen to each individual song, it sounds like we were together, because we were. When you listen to “Oooh”, it sounds like a Redman song, or the Busta song could be a Busta song, but they do sound like De La songs as well.
HipHopSite: I think “Oooh” is one of the best singles of the year so far, but it’s not typical to hear the words, “If you’re a fat chick getting your fuck on tonight” on a De La record. I mean, it’s hilarious, but why is it okay now?
Truguoy: That’s what makes it work, because it’s funny, and because it’s Redman. But to tell you the truth, De La wrote those choruses for Redman. So it was like stepping in his shoes for a minute, and making it work. For us it’s cool, because it’s challenging. When we can step out like, “what would Redman say” or “what would the Beastie Boys say”. I think that’s how you master your game even more.
HipHopSite: I was reading another interview with you, and you were quoted as saying something to the extent of “Well, this person put a double album out, but they could have put out a single album with only the good tracks” But if you are going to do a triple album, how do you know that every joint is going to be the shit?
Posdonous: We’re very critical. We are not going to say to ourselves on a single album, “We need this joint to take up space”. We really feel like if we are doing something, we are going to do our best. We can all look back on our albums and be like, “that song was corny”. But whatever the reason is we do a certain song for, we try to keep a creative vibe and make sure that it is official and works for the album, not just to take up space.
HipHopSite: So who is handling production this time around?
Truguoy: We all handle the responsibility, although this time we have had some outside production as we did on the “Stakes Is High” album. Jay Dee from the Ummah is on the album, Rockwilder is on the album, DJ Adlib from South Carolina is on the album, Mr. Man from the Bush Babees, plus we did a lot of production ourselves.
HipHopSite: As far as the working relationship with Prince Paul is concerned, do you feel like you have covered that already or…?
Posdonous: It’s something that is at our own leisure, like “let’s do this joint with Paul.” Paul was never the producer, he was just the fourth member, and he just contributed the way we contributed. We were new in the game, and we didn’t realize that putting him as “producer” would put more light on him. We did tracks and he did tracks. It’s the same way now, and since we have been blessed enough to handle the production chore ourselves, we felt very comfortable letting Paul relinquish his control. He helped us get to where he was, and when he started doing the Gravediggaz thing, and going on tour, we kept things moving ourselves with “Stakes Is High”. It’s like moving out from the direction of your father. Once you can do it yourself, you do.
Maseo: Just naturally growing apart. We still got love for Paul, he’s still got love for us.
Truguoy: We’ll probably be working with him in the near future.
HipHopSite: Speaking of the “Stakes Is High”, on that album you got a lot of shit off your chest about the industry. Where does your opinion of the industry stand now, and does this new album adopt that same kind of attitude?
Truguoy: Not really, I think we made our point on “Stakes Is High”. I think a lot of groups adhered to it, they understood where we were coming from and checked themselves. I think it did its job, and we’re not going to repeat ourselves on “Art Official Intelligence”. I think we’ve always been a group that’s known to come out creative with a message. I think this album is more reminiscent of “3 Feet High and Rising”, there is no message at all. There’s a few laughs in there, but it’s just good times, good music and a fun attitude to have. We really don’t have anything to say about the music industry, people will do what they want to do, we’ll just see who is here longer. I think it’s more important now not to speak, but to show and prove.
HipHopSite: Maseo, you didn’t rhyme on the last album, but you are on the new album. Why not on “Stakes Is High”?
Maseo: I wasn’t ready for it the last album.
Pos: It’s not like we are sitting there like, “this is an album where Maseo should or shouldn’t rhyme”, it’s just like if it permits itself, if there is a feeling, then cool.
Truguoy: We don’t even stress ourselves when one of us is like “I want to do this record myself”. It’s not like I have to be on every record or he has to be on every record.
Pos: Some songs you feel like they don’t even compliment you. “Itsoeezee”, I made the beat, and I didn’t want to rhyme on it. I was about to sell it to someone else, and Tru was like, “I’ll rhyme on that”. Originally, I thought of that beat for someone to sing on it.
HipHopSite: Your careers are stretching past ten years now. In hip-hop, it doesn’t seem like artists have longevity, they just expire after a while. Where does this stop and how have you stayed in the game so long?
Posdonous: It’s not like you have “dope juice” and the dope juice runs out. We’ve seen rappers fall, and certain people just lose focus. If you are going to apply your focus to making movies or something, your focus if different. Obviously you were once a person who had nothing to distract you, so you sat down and wrote and perfected your art incredibly. Even for us, now it’s just not the same. When we were eighteen, all we had to worry about was going to work at Burger King. Now we are 30, and we have kids, beyond even writing rhymes, I have to stop and do interviews. Plus you are like “Are my spitting techniques still as sharp? Forget about that today, let’s go to the Busta release party,” or “I’m so big now, I can hang out with Patti Labelle”. It’s a lot of things that distract you from staying on your art. Secondly, when you are first coming up, you don’t know anything about Soundscan or Billboard. Once you get on, you start to pay attention like, “Wow, that person sold this many albums”, or “I have been out for ten years now, and I am considered old school, so now I have to flip their style and rhyme like Jay-Z now..”
Trugouy: I think right now there is a certain format in the industry and I think every artist is doing that rather than concentrating on their art. If you are a rapper now, you have to have a record label, a clothing company, and you have to be in a movie. Following that format just takes you left field. When it’s time to record a record again, you forgot about beats and rhymes. I’m happy and proud that rap has become successful and is climbing the economic level.
Maseo: Anybody want some wings?
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