Because of the changing nature of sampling laws, many of the greatest albums of rap’s late-’80s/early-’90s “golden age” simply couldn’t be made now; the sampling fees would be prohibitively expensive. And because of those laws, the pioneering Native Tongues trio De La Soul is having trouble putting its albums out there in any legitimate sort of way these days. De La member Posdnous tells Rolling Stone, “It’s been a trying journey. We’ve been blessed to be in the Library of Congress, but we can’t even have our music on iTunes. We’ve been working very hard to get that solved.” As a temporary solution, De La are offering their entire discography (minus their last album, 2004’s Grind Date) for free download.
Right now, you can head to the group’s website and get any of their first seven albums for just a first name and an email address. The offer only lasts for 25 hours, starting at 11AM eastern today, and it commemorates the 25th anniversary of their debut album 3 Feet High And Rising. If you don’t already have a copy of that album on your computer, you should absolutely take advantage of the moment. The first four De La albums represent one of the best, most consistent runs in rap history. 1993’s Buhloone Mindstate is my personal favorite, but you can’t go wrong with any of them.
Posdnous tells Rolling Stone that the group’s motives are entirely benevolent: “It’s about allowing our fans who have been looking and trying to get a hold of our music to have access to it. It’s been too long where our fans haven’t had access to everything. This is our way of showing them how much we love them.”
But for the first time in a while, they’ve also got new music in the works. We posted their song “Get Away” last year, and it was meant as the opening shot from You’re Welcome, the album they plan to release this summer. And next month, they intend to release a new EP called Preemium Soul On The Rocks, in which they rap over three tracks from producer DJ Premier and three more from Pete Rock.