NME - De La Soul’s first six albums are set to be made available on streaming services from March 3, 2023.
To coincide with the 34th anniversary of the release of their iconic debut album ‘3 Feet High And Rising’, De La Soul will be making it available on streaming platforms alongside ‘De La Soul Is Dead’ (1991), ‘Buhloone Mindstate’ (1993), ‘Stakes Is High’ (1996), ‘Art Official Intelligence: Mosaic Thump’ (2000) and ‘Art Official Intelligence: Bionix’ (2001).
As it stands, only the group’s three most recent albums are currently on Spotify; 2004’s ‘The Grind Date’, 2012’s ‘First Serve’ and ‘And The Anonymous Nobody…’ which was released in 2016.
De La Soul’s classic albums weren’t released on streaming initially due to a dispute with their label, Warner Records, who were allegedly reluctant to clear samples for digital release. Apparently the samples used across those early records were only cleared for physical media distribution.
Well this is some awesome news.
These poor guys have been getting dicked around forever. Like many early hip hop pioneers, namely the Beastie Boys, De La Soul's records were extremely heavy with samples. Back from when you could sample other songs without having to clear them legally.
Obviously, when record labels had major laws passed via major precedent cases, this all changed, and sadly, no, music like De La's was not "grandfathered in".
Their catalogue was purchased by Tommy Boy in 2017. Two years later they supposedly struck an agreement to get their stuff up online finally but then another dispute arose over royalties and that was all halted. In 2021 Tommy Boy was purchased by Reservoir Media (one of these PE Funds whose strategy is to make money through licensing and royalties) and the discussion was back on the table.
And now today, it seems we finally have good news. March 3, 2023 we will finally get to stream "3 Feet High and Rising". Hallelujah.
p.s. - I know it's wild to think of today in 2023, but remember back in the day when apple itunes was just getting started and all the artists that refused to put their music on it? And how long the Beatles held out? It was a huge deal when apple struck a deal with them in 2010, major major news.