De La Soul was a legendary trio who, in their short but sweet time in the limelight, impacted the rap music culture. Although the collective didn’t have a lengthy run, that’s not to undermine their importance in developing the epic East Coast Jazz-Hop subgenre.
The Long Island collective was a critical force in promoting alternative hip-hop during the 1980s. Comprised of three individuals, Posdnuos, the late Trugoy The Dove and Maseo, the New York collective, used his ingenuity to produce music that broke the boundaries of hip-hop and encouraged sonic fusion.
Although the group’s 1989 debut album, 3 Feet High And Rising, with its bright yellow cover and flamboyant pink writing, may have presented the trio as a soft, light-hearted rap collective, De La Soul produced a vast amount of hard-hitting material and one of their most impactful tracks is ‘Millie Pulled A Pistol On Santa’. However, there is a dark truth behind the song.
Released in 1991, the track acted as the third single for the collective’s second album De La Soul Is Dead. Produced by New York legend Prince Paul, the track contains three samples, including, ‘I’ll Stay’ and ‘Mommy, What’s a Funkadelic?’ by Funkadelic, ‘Givin’ It Up Is Givin’ Up’ by Patrice Rushen and ‘Synthetic Substitution’ by Melvin Bliss.
In a 1991 interview with Simon Reynolds for Melody Maker magazine, the group discussed their transition and attempt to explore more negative issues. Posdnuous told Reynolds, “With us, positivity was never about going around with a stupid grin saying, ‘Hi, peace y’all, let’s all be happy.'”
He continued, “On the first album, we had songs that dealt with social issues. We dealt with drug use on ‘Say No Go’, but it wasn’t that personal, whereas ‘My Brother Is A Basehead’ deals with drugs from personal experience. The overall vibe of the new LP is not happy-go-lucky. But it is like 3 Feet High & Rising, in that there’s positive elements, and there’s songs that deal with a negative situation, but trying to strive for a positive solution to it.”
However, he then proceeded to explain the true story behind ‘Millie Pulled A Gun On Santa’, unveiling, “That’s also about a friend of mine who unfortunately was being molested by her father. It turned out that all of us knew a person who was going through that. But this was something so close to me that I wanted to express it on wax. In reality, it didn’t go as for as her pulling a pistol on her father. The story is fictional, but the emotions are real.”
This iconic track was interpolated by the rap duo Atmosphere in 2009 when they released ‘Millie Fell off the Fire Escape’ for their 2009 mixtape, Leak At Will. You can listen to the original in the video below.