Kelvin, David

De La Soul Details The ‘No Egos, No Seniority, No Bosses’ Behind Comeback Album

Pioneering hip-hop crew De La Soul hit the studio in Atlanta last April to record their eighth album, And the Anonymous Nobody. The project was made possible by their loyal fans who donated more than $600,000 via a Kickstarter campaign to help see the album through to completion. The group initially aimed to raise $110,00, but they surpassed their goal in less than 24 hours.

“Thank you so much to all of you for rewarding us with your time and help!! We have not only become the second most funded music project on Kickstarter, but we have also gained a clearer insight into how you feel about us as a group and what we do,” De La Soul wrote to fans after their Kickstarter ended. “You have helped directly play a part in giving us the much needed creative fuel by showing that we still matter to all of you! In knowing that we feel nothing less than number 1!!! Much love and this music is coming your way soon!!”

De La Soul consists of Posdnuos, Dave, and Maseo. Their debut album, 3 Feet High and Rising, has been called “a hip hop masterpiece,” and is the band’s biggest commercial success to date. As Rolling Stone notes, their forthcoming LP will be their first in 12 years and boasts a handful of special guests, including Damon Albarn, Usher, Snoop Dogg, Jill Scott, Pete Rock, Estelle, Roc Marciano, Justin Hawkins from the Darkness, 2 Chainz, and Little Dragon. De La Soul say they built the album “entirely around samples taken from numerous jam sessions” with Los Angeles session band, The Rhythm Roots All-Stars.

“[There’s] tons of tons of raw footage … of just jamming,” says Posdnous of their forthcoming album. “We were going through a bunch of stuff. Just putting stuff in what was gonna be called the trash file. And so I made I point, ‘Look at this song here, we can’t rhyme with this. This sound like something Talking Heads would be on,’ and it was like, DINNNNG! Wait a minute, what if we got David Byrne to do this track?'”

Last year, Posdnous said the band had no “pre-formed idea of what we wanted to sample. We just got into the studio with the All-Stars and let the music flow where it felt like flowing.” They also revealed that the album “plays on two ideas,” with the first being “no egos, no seniority, no bosses, just a group of equal ‘nobodies’ working towards one goal: making music.” Second, “there’s always a silent champion or brave individual — a ‘nobody’ — that steps in saves the day.”

Despite their influential contributions to the evolution of hip-hop, the group described that “uncertain” feeling that came with hitting the studio to create art now that they’re in their 40’s. “That element of not knowing what you’re doing… it felt like ‘3 Feet High and Rising.'”

And the Anonymous Nobody will be the first album by a commercial rap group completely financed by crowd-funding. It will be released via the group’s AOI imprint, with physical and digital distribution being handled by Kobalt.

“The idea of signing [to] a label was a bit scary,” says bandmate Dave Jolicoeur. “We’ve been, obviously, on a label for about 20 years or so and then got moved and kicked around in the whole WEA system, and then ended up on Sanctuary. They really didn’t support that record [2004’s The Grind Date]. So just the idea of putting our project and what we create in someone else’s hands … is a scary thing.”

“It’s funny… We even at one point let Nas hear a bunch of tracks,” says Posdnous. “And it was just dope how he was like, ‘Yo man, this is like some avant-garde shit.'”

De La Soul’s And the Anonymous Nobody will be released April 29, 2016, per WatchCloud.

[Images courtesy Brad Barket/Getty Images/Twitter]