It’s been decades in the making, but it’s finally here: legendary hip-hop trio De La Soul are officially coming to a streaming service near you. After a protracted legal battle over the online status of their discography, the Long Island group are finally getting all of their albums onto platforms like Spotify and Apple Music by March of 2023.
“It’s been 20-plus years overdue, but finally, we are here,” band member DJ Maseo shared in a statement.
De La Soul was among the few acts of the alternative rap boom of the late 1980s and early 1990s not to have their catalogue of albums, singles, and other material available on streaming services. The trio had been fighting to get their songs online, but they hit a few snafus along the way.
Originally, the group claimed that Warner Bros Records was blocking their catalogue from appearing on streaming services because they were reluctant to clear samples used on their albums. “Our contracts on those early albums said specifically ‘vinyl and cassette,’” Posdnuos explained to the BBC in 2016. “The wording wasn’t vague enough to lend itself to [new] music technology. So once the whole age of digital music came into play, new deals needed to be cut for those entire albums.”
“They’re like, ‘Is it worth it?’ They’ve got to go through almost every song with a fine comb to make sure this sample or that sample was cleared. They just don’t want to deal with it,” he added. “Whenever we find someone who works there that’s willing to help us, there’ll be a change of the guard and a whole bunch of new people come in, and they don’t know what’s going on. It’s been a very lengthy, draining process.”
For years (and for the next two months), the only De La Soul albums available on streaming services were their post-2001 releases. That included 2004’s The Grind Date and 2016’s And the Anonymous Nobody…, plus the 2012 collaborative albums between Posdnuos, Dave, and French DJ duo Chokolate and Khalid, Plug 1 & Plug 2 Present… First Serve.
After De La Soul’s catalogue went from Warner Bros to Tommy Boy Records in 2017, there was hope that the group’s albums would finally become available. Instead, the members fought for a greater royalty rate and control of their catalogue. Reservoir Media acquired Tommy Boy in 2021 and announced their intentions to work with De La Soul to bring their catalogue to streaming services.
The entire De La Soul back catalogue will be available to stream starting on March 3rd. ‘The Magic Number’ will be streaming starting on January 13th.