De La Soul Drops 3 Feet High and Rising Album – Today in Hip-Hop
XXL celebrates 50 years of hip-hop with this moment:
March 3, 1989: Three friends from Long Island, N.Y. decided to form a rap group and create a masterful first album that had a tremendous impact on hip-hop music on this day in 1989.
Kelvin Mercer (aka Posdnous or Plug One), David Jude Jolicoeur (aka Trugoy the Dove or Plug Two) and Vincent Lamont Mason Jr. (aka Maseo or Plug Three) originally formed the rap trio De La Soul in 1987. The rap trifecta stuck out from the crowd, through their afrocentric yet off-kilter style of dress and positive subject matter. They all met up in a Long Island high school, and after releasing some early music, caught the attention of legendary producer Prince Paul. This union would prove vital, as he would have a hand in every beat and sample on De La Soul's classic debut album, 3 Feet High and Rising.
De La Soul's first full-length album was a runaway success. 3 Feet High and Rising peaked at No. 24 on the Billboard 200 chart, and led the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums tally. The singles before the album's release were "Plug Tunin,'" which is the song that won Prince Paul over, and their second single, "Potholes in My Lawn," which peaked at No. 22 on the Billboard Hot Rap Singles chart for the week of March 25, 1989.
Their third single, the timeless "Me, Myself and I," was the biggest song from the album. The song, which samples Funkadelic's "(Not Just) Knee Deep," was a hit and earned a No. 1 spot on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs & Tracks and the Hot Rap Songs chart. Another LP highlight is the group's anti-drug track "Say No Go," which samples Daryl Hall & John Oates' "I Can't Go for That (No Can Do)."
Although 3 Feet High and Rising has been critically acclaimed worldwide, the group's album, as well as their music catalog, was once inaccessible to longtime fans on digital/streaming services. After years of a legal battle between De La and their formal label, Tommy Boy Records, their music catalog was acquired by Reservoir Media in 2021 and returned to the group. Thirty-four years after its release, 3 Feet High and Rising, as well as their back catalog, is now available to stream through all DSPs.
But the Plug Triumvirate's belated streaming debut is also bittersweet. On Feb. 12, Trugoy (or Dave) passed away at 54 years old. A cause of death has not been revealed. Both Posdnuos and Maseo posted tributes to Dave, who had been diagnosed with congestive heart failure before his death.
"You were the heart of our group. You brought so much creativity, energy, and passion to our music, and your influence will be felt for years to come," Pos wrote in a heartfelt Instagram post to the late Da La member.
Maseo wrote in part, "Dave - thank you so much for being in my life. Although you and I would argue like hell, we would both admit when we were wrong and totally come full circle and say, 'I Love You.' I want to truly thank you for having the birds eye view of our collective vision to be a group."
Maseo closed his message with this call-to-action: "AMITYVILLE, ALL OF LONG ISLAND AND HIP HOP CULTURE, PLEASE STAND UP AND SALUTE THE LEGENDARY ICON TRUGOY THE DOVE, PLUG 2 AKA DAVE! YOU WILL BE EXTREMELY MISSED AND WAY TO DOPE TO EVER BE FORGOTTEN...I LOVE YOU VERY MUCH BIG BRO."
Outside of the tributes, 3 Feet High and Rising was the polar opposite of street rap, which was heating up at the time of its release. De La Soul never aimed to be the antithesis to what was going on in rap, even though the media used them as such. They were three creative guys who loved hip-hop and being themselves the best way they knew how.