Artist on Artist: Posdnuos of De La Soul talks to Rhymefest | Artist on Artist | Chicago Reader

Artist on Artist: Posdnuos of De La Soul talks to Rhymefest 

"Kids don't listen to Obama—they listen to 50 and Drake, and they'll actually listen to Obama because Drake said so"

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And it's interesting you say that, because you're talking about your group, and your brothers and this and that—however, as you all have advanced and gone through hip-hop and life, I'm sure you all have families and women and children. How does that come into play, when their needs may not meet the needs of the group? It's definitely come into play. But once again, in our situation, it's cool that the women—or the woman, in my life, could be then best friends with, say, Mase's wife. It's like a connection with each other. My oldest daughter, she's actual blood cousins with Mase's kids, because I used to be with her mom. It's like, we're all really connected. So I mean, like—but you're absolutely right, there still are times where you need to put in that time in the crib. You wanna go and do five days in the studio in LA, but then that's gonna get in the way of, you know, your daughter's recital—or this, that, and the third. And you just learn to work it out, and you become appreciative of how your family takes in consideration what you're doing and learns how to deal with it.

Now Pos, y'all was rapping, and I knew about De La Soul before we knew about cell phones. You know what I'm saying? Like I know they had cell phones in the 70s, but didn't nobody really know about that. We live in the future. How do you deal with fame in the future, where everything is a sound bite and the adults may know you, and they may get frantic, and they kids, "You don't know who that is? You don't who that is?" It's a challenge that I love, that we love to meet. We've never been comfortable in settling for like, Yo, the people who know us is the people who know us. "Yo, let's do this old-school hip-hop run." We have always been about, as you said, trying to do the next thing, trying to be a part of the next thing, but in our way. Pairing up outside just the normal boundaries of where hip-hop has been, and do something like how we did with the Gorillaz, which then even got us a whole 'nother family. We've always been open to all levels of music, doing things back in the day on the Judgment [Night] soundtrack with Teenage Fanclub—didn't know those guys, but yo, it was like, let's try it. And I think that really played a part in helping us to then gain, little by little, true fans.

I mean the biggest thing I always say to people is, a lot of times we can be taught that you only have like a 15-minute window, and that you need to grab all you can grab. Like, get this, feature on that, get this movie deal, try that, and then it winds up burning you out quicker. I've always been the one who thought like, Yo, have a slow burn like incense. 'Cause even when incense stops burning, the smell is really still there, and it stays with you in the room. We've always tried to look at it like that and be like that.

I'll tell you, and this is just me as an artist, I like N.W.A as much as I love De La Soul, Big Daddy Kane—it's just I had access to all different types of hip-hop growing up. The imbalance in the way hip-hop is presented now—where do you see that taking hip-hop as a culture, and I guess to be more specific, do you think that imbalance will smother out the side that's the least heard? There's definitely a terrible imbalance. I mean, it's funny how you mention all those groups, because that's one thing you can even see from a touring standpoint. Our first major tour was the Nitro tour with LL, and it was us, Slick Rick, LL—with N.W.A. You know what I'm saying? I mean, Too Short was on the tour, Geto Boys. So you could have all these artists on one bill, as opposed to today, you know, you may have the Cash Money tour, you may have the Roc-a-Fella tour, you may have De La, Wale, Q-Tip—we'll get together on the Rock the Bells tour—as opposed to having a mixture of music.

But there's a big imbalance, there's a level of people feeling like, OK, these artists haven't been heard in a minute or haven't been around in a minute, so these younger kids, this is what they want. No, these younger kids—this is only what you're feeding them. And if that's what you're feeding them, a lot of times that's all they gonna take. As opposed to if you asked them, they could tell you, "Nah, I know who this dude is, yeah, I know who that is, but I know him through my brother, but yeah, I know who they are." There's just a level of music that is being not represented or shown at all.

When they say "We're gonna play a hip-hop night" on the radio station, what they do is, it seems as though they revert back to 90s hip-hop—they play that as opposed to playing new hip-hop that represents what the 90s hip-hop represented. So you'll get a Slick Rick, a De La Soul, a Tribe Called Quest, but you may not get the Immortal Technique, or the Killer Mike, or the new hip-hop that represents what you all were representing then and what you are still representing now. They may not play the new De La Soul. It's funny how you say that, because I can talk to people and even, like, Jazzy Jeff made a good point I remember one time to me as well, how you'll have people—like, say, us, or the Rakims, or whoever can be like, "Well, why am I going to make an album?" Even people, my peers, they're so into focusing on their youth—I mean, the average person my age, yo, I'm 42 years old. The average person is going to look and focus on when and how they had it when they was in college and how they was doing it, and the soundtrack of their lives. So they'll take the Tribe record, the De La record, the Jungle Brothers record, but as opposed to, like, implementing, as you said, what we're doing right now, it's not about that being a soundtrack to their lives.

Because a lot of people, sometimes, find themselves not happy where they lives are right now. And crazy enough, not even that they're necessarily going through bad times, but just because they're older and they don't have, you know, that physique they used to have where they could eat anything and not gain 20 pounds, or turn around and they had the girls they could smash anytime they want. Everyone wants to relive their youth, and they relive it through their soundtracks of that time—as opposed to looking at that artist and seeing that that artist has grown and will continue to grow, especially along with their support.

Do you think happiness makes your music not as good? Um, I can't say that. I definitely do feel that a level of speaking upon what's negative, speaking upon what needs to be dealt with—it could be what we naturally are attracted to. And that's throughout our entire lives, even in any aspect of media. When we talk about—let's look at the news. I'm sure you see it on your news station, and I can look on my local news—I mean, it's really bad news. It ain't good news. If news stations reported good news, the ratings would probably be bad. So I think it's like that with music too.

Mind you, you can have even someone like PE [Public Enemy], and it was a blessing to have a group like that, that was reporting the ills of what the government tried to put on us as people. But I feel good that a De La Soul could've still come along and talked about something that was a little bit more happy, and a little easier to swallow, and still be respected. And that's one thing, going back to what you said before, it was a balance. You had both. You could have someone like N.W.A talking from a street standpoint, but still was correct in saying, like, the cops was trying to fuck me up, and you could have De La Soul talking about, yo, escape, and you could have PE talking about what they're talking about.

That's true, but I think that to represent De La Soul as all happy would be a misnomer. When you look at songs—even if you go back to "Potholes in My Lawn," there was always an element of conflict. I guess what I'm saying is, does personal happiness with no conflict—it seems as though some people would say, OK, when Mary J. Blige is in a relationship and she's happy, her music is not as good. Do you think your personal happiness—and I guess I'm not talking about music, I'm talking about your personal happiness—throw your music down? For me, I honestly can't say it does. Because for me, as a youth even into now, I always focused on trying my best to think of the newest thing to talk about, or the newest angle to approach a subject that's been talked about already. That's something that's really been a part of me. But I definitely agree with what you're saying. Sometimes when you wanna make sure your money's right, when you wanna make sure you're not in certain levels of ills, you turn around and focus so you can get out of them. But I mean, even when I spent a young part of my life in the Bronx growing up, I didn't realize I had it bad because my parents gave me so much to see and to be a part of. And even by the time I moved to Long Island, once again, I was blessed to have so many amazing and great things around me. So I think that shaped the way I thought and how I could reach and try to imagine things.

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