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De La Soul - Pass the Plugs (1991 / Rap)
Hello internet pals of music. Today we’re reflecting on the passing of a great artist.
I am 98% certain that I was the first person at HSPVA to hear De La Soul is Dead.
There’s that slight chance I’m wrong, but I’m pretty confident I’m not. And I’m sure of that because the only kids who would’ve cared were in the Art Department or in the Music Department, and I’d played it first for all those kids by the end of lunch that day.
HSPVA is The High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, for those not familiar, and it’s like the movie Fame took place in Houston, TX and didn’t star Irene Cara & Debbie Allen but did occasionally break out into a musical. Beyonce attended it, a few years later than I did, and stayed maybe a semester before focusing on Destiny’s Child and taking over Coachella and well, the world.
I didn’t take over the world. I started a Substack.
But I did premiere De La Soul’s much anticipated second album to the art kids and the music kids, during lunch, because I had skipped second period to go buy it the day it came out. I had made the decision to do so on my way to school that morning. Cactus Records didn’t open until 10 am, so my logic was that I’d have until the middle of second period to fake an allergy attack. I’d have to begin during first period, starting with a slow build of rubbing my eyes like they were itching, making them bloodshot in the process. During homeroom I’d start sniffling, graduating to a crescendo in time for second period, and making enough of a nuisance that around 9:45 am, they let me go to the front office. Once there, I somehow convinced them to let me leave campus to drive to Walgreens to get Benadryl but instead drove to Cactus and became the first person there to buy a copy. I know this because I asked the clerk. It was also like 10:05 and no one else had come into the store yet. I was watching from the parking lot as they unlocked the door.
I then of course drove around listening to about a quarter of it before returning to school, going back to class and telling people to meet me at lunch, where a handful of us sat around in one of the art rooms listening to it (although we may have done it at my car, I honestly don’t remember).
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I’d always loved De La Soul. I’ve seen them at their peak, co-headling a tour with A Tribe Called Quest (and openers Souls of Mischief). De La had just released Buhloon Mind State, Tribe had just come out with Midnight Marauders and Souls were touring ‘93 Til Infinity. It was such a pinnacle 90s hip hop moment. When Tribe played Award Tour, they invited the crowd on to the stage and I somehow found myself next to members of all three groups. I still have a hard time believing that moment to be real, but the story’s been backed up, so I can say it out loud I guess. I saw them again in 1996 at the terribly named One World Music Festival outside Austin, along with Bootsy, Fishbone, P-Funk All Stars and The Brides of Funkenstein.
I have read wiser, better writers properly placing Trugoy, aka Dave Jolicouer, where he belongs as an artist. I don’t need to do that. I don’t want to do that. Nor do I want to drag on and on about what his music meant to me, because I’ve never even given that much thought. It’s as if De La was just there, in the littlest parts of me, the atoms. I’m mostly just thinking about art and when it is so entwined in one’s being that there’s no need to define it, or proclaim it, one just does it. That De La’s catalog was so unobtainable for so long is a real musical void and that Dave passed weeks away from it being available again is a tragedy. But if those releases don’t convert a new generation of fans, that will be dispiriting.
And of course, it’s another installment…which is wholly unreliable schedule-wise, but hey, I’m trying…
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