_ Return of the real
Mace, Dove and P05 are keeping it real, still. Jim Byers catches up with the De La Soul boys backstage in Munich.
1996 saw De La Soul release their fourth album Stakes Is High . Alongside A Tribe Called Quest‘s Bears. Ryrhms And Life. it represented a return to the positive roots of rap music. in contrast to the widespread aggressive posturing of ‘gangsta rap'. the De La Soul agenda is far more cerebral.
‘We‘ve never truly associated ourselves with hip hop.‘ explains De La‘s Mace (aka Vincent Mason Junior). ‘We try and convey what we do in our daily lives. in my life. l‘ve never had many encounters with guns and drugs and all that stuff.‘
What. a hip hopper who doesn‘t talk about ‘motherfuckin hos‘ and ‘uzis in ya face. Y'all"? Surely some mistake? ‘lt‘s just the way I‘ve been bought up.‘ he says unapologetically. ‘that's not to say that I‘m not aware of those things — I’m well aware of them — ljust choose not to associate myself with those encounters in my life.‘
With the hip hop scene currently surrounded by the ongoing East Coast v West Coast feud (which some say peaked in the death of Death Row rapper Tupac Shakur last year) and the negative vibes which this has produced. De La Soul feel that the situation could be looking up for their brand of sounds: ‘I think people are truly looking for something different and creative.‘ he says. ‘I think things are takin‘ a turn for the positive with groups like ourselves. Busta Rhymes. The Fugees. The Pharcyde . . . it‘s back up
on a positive rise again.‘
The album aside. De La were fairly quiet last year. Rest assured that you can expect more activity this year. The current single ‘4 More' is out now and the group are currently winging their way round Europe on a promotional tour. ‘We've got a couple of things in the working right now.‘ says Mace. ‘We‘ll be working on alternative stuff. R ‘n‘ B. straight hip hop, rock 'n‘ roll. whatever truly feels good at the time. y'know'." More speciﬁcally. collaborations are planned with Fishbone. Hootie And The Blowfrsh and even Malcolm McLaren. ,
What about the British rap scene. have they heard much about that? ‘We always try and tell people that it's better to create your own style. y'know'.’ That‘s how you get respected. Like. don't do New York rap if you‘re from London. Do London rap. man. I would appreciate it more ifl knew it was real London hip hop rather than someone trying to imitate a Biggie Smalls. a Craig Mack or even a De La Soul.‘
What about jungle. the sound that has been tagged as 'British hip lrop'. Have they encountered that? ‘l
lie la Soul: a diiierent ltlnd oi smiley culture
appreciate the creativity of it.‘ says Mace. who has DJ‘d with Americanjungle Dis at parties. ‘Thing is, I particularly can‘t get into — no, I shouldn’t say that I can‘t get into it. ‘cos i can — ljust don't know how to party to it. y’know‘? I guess ljust can't dance to it.‘
Almost a decade on from their startlingly original debut album 3 Feet High And Rising De La Soul remain a breed apart from the rap mainstream. ‘We‘ve just matured. We went from teenagers to grown men. We’re in our late 20s now, we all have children. we all have responsibilities. When we were younger all we had to worry about was the phone bill. now we have mortgages, mouths to feed and kids to put through school.‘
Has this affected their attitude to the music? ‘l’ll never grow out of hip hop.‘ he says. ‘Hip hop has been a way of life for me. It's been like a father to me. it's always been there when the chips were down, y'know'?‘
Anything else‘.’ ‘Yeah. see you in Scotland bro.‘ Cool.
De La Soul play The Garage. Glasgow. Wed I9.
Im— geady Teddy o
the Edinburgh Jazz Project’s latest series at the tron has a slightly lop- sided look about it, with a couple oi gaps in the normal weekly
schedule, and some juggling around oi nights. the principal reason is that they have committed themselves to two bigger names at either end oi the programme, in the ionn oi saxophonist teddy Edwards and ilugelhorn specialist Art Farmer, and have had to trim their end-oi- iinanciaI-year budget accordingly.
teddy Edwards: Mississippi man
Farmer arrives in March, while Edwards will be accompanied by the Brian Kellock trio in a rare Edinburgh date. the saxophonist was born in Mississippi in 1924, and will be closing in on his 73rd birthday by the time oi his visit, but he has retained his relaxed, easy blowing way with a tune. lie numbers tom Waits among his tans, and it was the singer’s intercession on his behali which led to his recording Mississippi lad ior Antilles in 1991 , with Waits contributing two vocals to two songs on the album.
Sadly, the results did not live up to expectations, and Edwards remained stuck in the respected but undervalued category, despite being able to point to some pretty impressive credentials. lie was in on the early days oi bebop on the West
Coast (where a thriving late-40s bop scene preceded the Cool school oi the 508), and was a member oi the legendary Max Roach-Olltiord Brown Quintet in 1954.
lie has a string oi good albums to his credit over the years, and one certiiled classic, the 1960 session which reunited him with trumpeter lioward McGhee on Together Ayah”. Even that was not quite enough to deiinitively establish his reputation as a major iigure in the music, but that has not stopped him irom building a solid career, both in the studio and on stage, as a saxophonist, composer and arranger. As another oi his albums succinctly put it, it has been a case oi Steady Wlth teddy. (Kenny Mathleson) Teddy Edwards plays The lion Tavern, Edinburgh, Sun 9 Feb.
The List 7-20 Feb I997 37