Upon the announcement of De La Soul's upcoming performance at the 10 Barrel 10th Anniversary Party, everyone I talked to had a similar reaction. "Aw man! No way! De La Soul reminds me of high school." Of course, as someone in her 30s, that's the reaction one could expect. But nonetheless, De La Soul reminds listeners of a certain time in their life. No surprise, since until last year, the hip-hop trio hadn't released an album in 12 years.
The group comes to Bend in support of its most recent album, "And the Anonymous Nobody..." For the past 10 years, they've remained independent, free of a record label interfering in their creative process. For the new record, De La Soul went directly to the source – the fans – for financing. "And the Anonymous Nobody..." gained funding via a Kickstarter campaign, meeting its goal in a few short hours, then surpassing it six times over. The album was the first by a major hip-hop group financed completely by crowdfunding.
While De La Soul has always sampled, experimented and blended genres, "And the Anonymous Nobody..." takes it to another level. The album features collaborations with a breadth of artists and includes songs you won't typically expect from a hip-hop trio. De La Soul brings typical hip-hop players, including the likes of Usher, 2 Chainz, Snoop Dogg and Jill Scott, to the album. But it's the less conspicuous guests that make the album truly unique.
"Snoopies" features Talking Heads singer David Byrne. Swedish dreamy electro-pop band Little Dragon makes a guest appearance on the less than typical joint, "Drawn." In that song, Little Dragon takes the lead for nearly five minutes before De La Soul even utters a word. A song like this may never have made it onto a major label record release, which is why Kickstarter provided the perfect platform for the artists to have complete creative freedom. These two songs cross genre lines and challenge the idea of modern hip-hop.
On the crowd funding side of things, some question why you would pay for your favorite hip-hop pioneers to make a new album. As independent artists, it hearkens back to the quest for freedom over the entire creative process. Giving your favorite artists free reign to create exactly what they want and not what the record label wants pushes music to the pinnacle of artistic expression.
For fans, contributing $15 to the De La Soul Kickstarter got them a digital copy of the album with bonus songs. At that price point, you're basically paying for the album, which you would have done anyway. With Kickstarter, it allows you to feel personally invested in the production of the album. For super fans, higher donations led to more imaginative rewards. From shopping for new kicks with Posdnous to appearing on a skit on the album, to Dave's own platinum record plaque, donors had the chance to realize their dreams within the De La Soul universe.
No matter where De La Soul falls in your "time-of-life" experience, their genre-pushing blend of hip-hop with jazz, funk, rock, electronic—and anything else they feel in the moment—will have you on your feet. Dance freely, knowing you'll be supporting independent musicians and artists who've been allowed to exercise their creative freedom.
De La Soul
Saturday May 13, 8:45pm
10 Barrel 10th Anniversary Party
10 Barrel Brewing Co. Brewing Facility
62970 NE 18th St., Bend